It was another huge game from one of the smaller players on the basketball court.
Nebraska Wesleyan senior guard Caitlin Navratil scored a career-high 40 Saturday against Loras, the No. 23 team in NCAA Division III.
It was the second time in Wesleyan history that a women’s player scored at least 40 points. She went 16 of 23 from the field and also had four assists and four steals. On Tuesday, the 5-foot-3 Navratil was one of five players placed on the D3hoops.com national team of the week.
“Her work ethic is incredible,” Wesleyan coach Sam Dixon said. “She has a lot of versatility. She drives the ball well, she sees the floor well.”
And her name is all over Wesleyan’s record book.
In November, she became the program’s all-time leading scorer, breaking Sharon Holscher’s record that stood for 34 years. Earlier that month, she became the first Wesleyan player to record a triple-double with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a two-point win over Westminster.
She’s also Wesleyan’s career leader in field goals made (648) and 3-point percentage (.404), is second in steals (224) and free-throw percentage (.825) and is fourth in assists (292).
After averaging 20.2 points and 4.7 rebounds as a junior, Navratil is averaging 25.9 points (third best in Division III) and a team-best 5.9 rebounds through 11 games this season.
“Her midrange game has gotten much better,” Dixon said. “She doesn’t have to just get to the rim or shoot a 3.”
Despite her stature, Navratil has always been an effective scorer. Navratil, who has a career 50.1 field-goal percentage at Wesleyan, graduated from Dakota Ridge High School in Colorado with a school-record 1,167 points.
“My dad taught me to use different moves so I wouldn’t be predictable,” said Navratil, who over the past three seasons has scored in double figures in 59 of 62 games. “You don’t have to be the tallest. If you’re 5-3, you can rebound and score.”
Navratil said she’s worked on being more aggressive this season. The Prairie Wolves (5-6) still have 13 regular-season games left, beginning with Wednesday’s home game against Simpson. Navratil plans to enjoy every minute of it.
Navratil, who has a 3.8 GPA with a social work major, is on track to graduate in May.
“She’s a tremendous all-around person,” Dixon said. “She’s someone you truly enjoy being around every day.”
In other Midlands notes:
» One of this season’s top GPAC women’s basketball matchups will take place Wednesday in Hastings when the fourth-ranked Broncos face No. 1 Concordia. It’s the first time since 2003 that the programs have met when they’re both ranked in the top five. Concordia is coming off wins over No. 12 Northwestern and No. 6 Dordt. Senior guard Riley Sibbel had career highs in both wins, scoring 15 against Northwestern and 26 against Dordt. Hastings has won 17 straight, its most consecutive wins since 2002. Sixteen of its 17 wins have been by double figures.
» UNK’s Morgan Soucie scored a career-high 35 in Saturday’s 81-80 win over Pittsburg State. Soucie hit two free throws with 3.8 seconds left in overtime to give UNK the win. After struggling to a 10-18 record a year ago, the Loper men are 8-5.
» Concordia was picked to repeat as the GPAC baseball champion when the league preseason poll was announced Tuesday. Concordia received 10 of the 11 first-place votes, while Jamestown was second and Midland third. Morningside was picked as the favorite in the preseason softball poll, while Midland was second. Morningside and Midland were co-champions last spring.
» New Wayne State football coach John McMenamin has hired Logan Masters to be the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator. Masters, who was the offensive coordinator at Chadron State last season, is a former standout receiver at Wayne State.