Beckie Francis' Oakland University women's team peaking at the right time
"It's tournament time. Our team is peaking at the right time. We have a lot of experience and our senior leadership is incredible," Francis said.
The Grizzlies defeated the Leathernecks handily in both regular-season meetings this season.
Oakland has won the tournament twice, most recently in 2006, when it entered as the sixth-seeded team.
The Grizzlies are after their fourth postseason bid in five seasons. They went to the NCAA tournament in 2006, which they could do again with another tournament championship, and they visited the WNIT last season, as well as 2007.
Oakland is a consistent top-three team at the tournament, having begun the championships in one of those spots nine of the 11 seasons in Division I play. The Grizzlies have been to the championship game three of the past four seasons, losing to South Dakota State in its first year of tournament eligibility.
After a 2-9 start to the season, the women have won 15 of their final 18 regular-season games, finishing one game behind Summit regular-season champion Oral Roberts.
"At the start of the season, we were still getting used to each other. We were trying to figure out how to play together. Right now, we are really playing well. Like coach said, we are ready for the tournament," senior Melissa Jeltema said.
Once the league season began in earnest, the Golden Grizzlies took off, winning five of their first six and finished the season on a six-game winning streak.
"In the early season, when we were going through those tough losses, it really helped to pull us together," senior forward Hanna Reising said. "As the season has gone on, we are starting to know and accepting our roles. We love playing together and are having so much fun; we are really looking forward to this weekend."