First round games of the Aii (Association of Independent Institutions) Tournament held at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa last Friday, February 26, brought losses for both Northern's men's and women's basketball teams. The women's team, qualifying for its third consecutive Aii Tournament, and the men's team, qualifying for the fourth consecutive year, both suffered early setbacks in the first quarters of Friday's games.
The women’s team faced off against Haskell Indian Nations University in their first game of the tournament, a matchup that has proven challenging to both teams this season with Haskell coming out on top (69-57) early in the season and the Eagles claiming a late-season victory over Haskell at home (83-75). Haskell attacked strong in the first quarter of Friday's Aii Tournament game leading 21-9 at the end of the first quarter. The Eagles were unable to overcome the first quarter deficit and lost 83-64. Haskell continued their streak, advancing to the final Aii Tournament game and taking the championship trophy, beating College of the Ozarks 79-75.
The men’s team faced York College in the first round of the Aii Tournament and lost 80-67. Key player, Patrick Bendegue, was sidelined with an injury in first quarter play, leaving the Eagles at a disadvantage for the remainder of the game.
“We played hard, but losing Patrick really hurt us on the glass," said Head Coach Ryan Cordova. “I am proud of my players for the great season they had.”
Tournament hosts, Mount Mercy University, came out on top in the men's Aii Tournament championship game, defeating York 74-61 in the final game Sunday night.
While neither of Northern's teams progressed beyond the first round game, making it once again to the Aii Tournament is an achievement Eagle fans can be proud of. Both teams are relatively new and had commendable seasons. Eagle fans certainly anticipate more exciting games in upcoming seasons as the Eagle basketball programs continue to develop.
Read more about the games via Athletics: