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in the MOOOOOOORRRRNing!

At least when I get up Friday AM, it will be to catch a 6am flight to Omaha to present at a conference and work with some of the fine folks at the Omaha Community Playhouse. But 50% of the players who got up bright and early yesterday morning for afternoon Kid Camp days got a loss for their trouble.

The Mystics ended a four-game skid by taking down San Antonio AT San Antonio, 81-70. Nice to see Dolson fight through a knee sprain and Meesseman and McBride back filling up their stat lines.

Tired Storm legs meant tired Storm shooting. LA managed to defend home court against Seattle, though they almost let their third quarter doom’em again. Sue over at Full Court says the Sparks are collectively dealing with chemistry, line up issues

“I loved how we won,” Los Angeles coach Carol Ross said. “We were resilient, tough, and battled through fatigue. We finished all the way to the end and kept a positive attitude until the end. We never doubted we would win it.”

The Sparks demonstrated the same play last week in defeating the visiting Tulsa Shock. It was a noticeable difference for a team that has been known to lose momentum during games, and have lackluster showings on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

“This game we were able to correct our problems, and make plays down the stretch and do what works for us,” All-Star forward Candace Parker said.

She’s baaaaack: Minnesota Lynx today announced the team has signed guard Nadirah McKenith

She’s also baaaaack: The New York Liberty signed free agent forward Charde Houston

Deborah Fleck asks: So how’s Irving MacArthur and Baylor graduate Odyssey Sims doing in the WNBA?

Jayda’s got some stuff to say about WNBA Pride & TV. Meanwhile, Rose Scott at NPR says, The WNBA Televises Its Pride With LGBT Campaign

Ned Griffen says the Sun continue to follow Douglas’ lead

Katie Douglas wanted to talk to Connecticut Sun public and community relations manager Bill Tavares at a recent practice, so she walked over and lowered her shoulder into him.

Laughter ensued.

Douglas was asked about her back, which caused her to miss most of last WNBA season. She had lumbar microdiscectomy surgery last October to correct it.

“The back is good,” Douglas said. “How does it look?”

More laughter.

Honestly, ESPN, that’s the best photo you could find?

BTW: Vote early, vote often:WNBA releases first tally for All-Star game, voting ends July 2

In college news:

UNCW women’s basketball team ready to reap rewards of patience

Adell Harris tried not to take it personally when a parade of UNCW women’s basketball players invaded her office in May 2012looking to leave.

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First and foremost, a huge shout out to Barb Stevens and her Bentley University team. Not only did they earn the Division II crown, they went undefeated, AND they came back from 9 down with less than six minutes to go.

With her team down nine points with 51⁄2 minutes left in the NCAA Division 2 championship game, Bentley coach Barbara Stevens allowed herself a moment of consolation.

“I had a fleeting thought looking up at the clock at one point where I said, ‘OK, it’s been a good season,’ ” Stevens said.

It was about to get much, much better.

****

“We looked at each other with six minutes left and knew we had to give it everything we had,” grad student Courtney Finn said. “We had our backs against the wall and really had nothing to lose down nine points. We had six minutes left in our careers and we had to give it everything we had.”

That’s  No. 917 for coach Stevens – and her first national championship.

“I can’t tell you what a tremendous ride this has been for our coaching staff and the Bentley community,” said Stevens. “What a ride for these young ladies and proud of them doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. We’ve gone through so much together and they are truly champions.”

From John Dudley at the Erie-Times News:

The banner above Barbara Stevens in Bentley’s small sea of blue Friday night at Erie Insurance Arena read “Finished Business.”

Some business takes longer to finish.

Stevens, Division II women’s basketball’s winningest coach, finally won a title on her second try 37 seasons into what’s already been a Hall of Fame career.

The last 28 of those seasons have been with the Falcons, with whom she’s been to nine NCAA semifinals, two finals and, now, one mountaintop.

Not such good news for two coaches: Rhode Island is looking for a new leader, as is Minnesota. Rhodie looking of a new boss was not surprising, but for some, Borton’s firing was. Not for those around the program, though.

Jonathan Hawthorne writes: Paul Westhead’s time with Oregon women’s basketball inconsistent but impactful

The team, who was saddened by the news of his departure from Eugene, clearly enjoyed his style of play and mentorship.

“To play for a coach like him, who’s coached NBA players and won championships, it’s probably the highlight of my career because he has taught me so much,” Jillian Alleyne said after the game. “He taught me ultimately to believe in myself, that I can be any kind of player I want to be. So it’s been a great honor and a great pleasure.”

Speaking of coaches in unhappy situations, Kate Fagan dives into the rabbit hole that is the she said/she said of BU’s Kelly Greenberg: Two Distinct Portraits of Greenberg

Kristen Sims, a former Boston University women’s basketball player, remembers how head coach Kelly Greenberg supported her unconditionally before and after her knee surgery, taking Sims to doctor’s appointments and constantly checking in to see whether she needed anything.

Jacy Schulz, another former BU player, remembers the time she entered Greenberg’s office and the coach placed a box of Kleenex on the desk to signal what was to come. “She said I was a waste of life, and that I should never have been born,” Schulz told espnW.com.

Both Sims and Schulz speak with the conviction that comes from personal experience. This is exactly how it happened for me. And according to more than a dozen interviews conducted with former BU players, each of the above interactions reflects the dramatically divergent experiences of the young women who have played for Greenberg over the years.

Joan Venocchi at the Boston Globe writes: A bully, or a booster

Who’s the real Kelly Greenberg?

The two sides to her story sound like parallel worlds of a college hoops universe.

From Allie Grasgreen at Inside Higher Ed: Equal Opportunity Bullying

It’s clear that bullying and emotional abuse by coaches of any gender has deep roots. But several complaints and lawsuits in recent months focused more attention on behavior that people would historically expect to see more from men.

In WNBA news:

You stay put:  Atlanta Dream re-signs All-Star C Erika de Souza after career-best season

You also stay put: Quigley & Warley Re-sign with Chicago and Sun Sign Hightower, Greene

You go back: Katie Douglas leaving Fever as for Sun

You come here: Fever announce signing of Marissa Coleman and Sky sign free-agent forward Breland

Will you come here? Phoenix Mercury today acquired the rights to Polish center Ewelina Kobryn from the Seattle Storm in exchange for forward Charde Houston

And yah, WNBA Makes If Official: 2014 Draft At Mohegan Sun On April 14

WATN? Kelly Mazzante: Mazzante’s return to Hershey for state finals brought back a lot of memories; and not all were good-The former Montoursville High and Penn State star worked the state basketball finals for PCN.

WATN? Keri Chaconas: Former WNBA player settles in Huntersville

Holm grew up in northern Virginia, where she began playing basketball at a young age. Her prowess in the sport as a prep player landed her a scholarship at George Mason, her home school, in 1992.

She took advantage of the opportunity.

While Holm didn’t get a chance to play in an NCAA tournament game during her time with the Patriots, she almost single-handedly vaulted George Mason into a contender for the Colonial Athletic Association title.

Holm’s success as a 3-point shooter – her 218 treys have her tops in school history – helped drive George Mason to the CAA championship game in 1994, where the Patriots fell to powerhouse Old Dominion and their star freshman Ticha Penicheiro, 78-61.

From the AP’s Paul Newberrry: Szabados inspiring but women deserve more

 

But the fact that Szabados’ only real playing option after Canada’s thrilling victory was to sign on with the low-level Southern Professional Hockey League shows just how far women’s sports still lags behind, despite all the progress in the last four decades under Title IX.

At the very least, Szabados and so many other female athletes deserve leagues of their own.

Outside of the WNBA, there’s virtually no conduit for women to make a decent wage in North American team sports after their high school and college careers are over. That’s why Szabados eagerly joined the SPHL for a few games, even though some viewed it as nothing more than a publicity stunt for a team averaging less than 3,000 fans a game. That’s why Jen Welter – all 5-foot-2, 130 pounds of her – is playing in a men’s football league, taking on guys more than twice her size.

They have no choice, their options are limited.

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all involved, including the Maine Black Bears, seem okay: Coach bus goes off the highway in Georgetown, college students and driver are injured 

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Not an easy year for Semeka Randall’s Ohio team: they’re 0-10 in the MAC.

On the flip side, it’s the Great Danes of Albany at 11-0 in the Am. East. BU is trying to keep pace (10-1). Of course, it’s more about pride than the conference tournament, since they won’t be invited. Why? They’re moving to the Patriot League next year.

Speaking of the Patriot League: The Leopards made it a game, but Navy prevailed in OT, 60-42. Coaching at any Service Academy ain’t easy, but coach Pemper has done a nice job since arriving in -08.

FGCU (12-0 A-Sun) is still soaring. This time, their victim was USC Upstate, 72-49. Interesting commentary by David Moulton: Time for the A-Sun to set in FGCU athletics history

Six years ago, the Atlantic Sun conference was FGCU‘s savior. They were there when no one wanted the university.

FGCU has done well by the A-Sun and vice versa.

For example, just this year FGCU had the best volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer teams in the conference with both soccer squads winning titles and earning NCAA berths. Both basketball teams are in first place with the women having not lost an A-Sun game in two years. The softball team is the defending conference champion and both the softball and baseball teams are pre-season favorites this year. Throw on top of that a Top 50 swimming/diving program and Florida Gulf Coast University is arguably the best athletic program in the A-Sun.

Which would be great if the Atlantic Sun conference wasn’t dying.

The Fightin’ Camels of Campbell (8-5) are trying to keep the Big South close by taking down conference top dog Winthrop (9-3), 84-69.

Cynthia’s Texas Southern is still winning. They now stand at 10-1 in the SWAC. Clearly, the runaway COY in the conference. They’ll face Southern, their best competition, on the 28th. The Jaguars (10-2) got surprised by Arkansas Little Rock (4-8), 59-50.

It was all Chambers for K-State (34,12,4), but she couldn’t overcome Iowa State’ Poppens and Christofferson.

That’s why sometimes a dunk is not just two points: it gets your teammates up and motivated: Baylor wipes the floor with Texas, 75-48. (Speaking of Baylor: Baylor women’s basketball transfer Destiny Brown enrolls at University of Delaware.)

Fresno State had a chance to claim the top spot in the Mountain West, but San Diego State  said, “No thank you, that spot is still ours.

Davidson (11-1) kept pace with Chattanooga (13-1) in the Southern by taking down Appalachian State, 56-49. The Mocs dismissed Elon, 63-40.

Again, it’s a long journey to recovery, but IUPUI is now 7-3 in the Summit. Of course, they have to face the Jackrabbits next, who may be looking for revenge. SDSU thumped Oakland, 83-48.

And again, I’m just sayin': St. Francis (NY) wins again.

I’m sorry “I saw you,” Sam Houston: the Bearkats go down to their Southland conference challengers, 52-48.

It took OT, and 26pts from Smith, but St. John’s is still clinging to the NCAA tourney bubble — which is nice, since they’re a host.

Northern Colorado is on a roll, with back-to-back wins over the Montanas. They’re now a half game out of the top spot in the Big Sky.

Green Bay continues to be the class of the Horizon, dispatching Milwaukee, 64-49.

Couple of huge upsets: Bradley, (10-12, 4-7 in the MV) shocked Wichita State (16-7, 10-1). In fact, it wasn’t even close: the Braves by 20. #2 and #3 in the conference met, and the Redbirds of Illinois State took it to Creighton in the second half, capturing the 66-60 win.

Middle Tennessee (18-6, 13-2 Sun Belt) may have overlooked Troy (5-18, 2-12). IN Murfreesboro, the Trojans took the Blue Raiders to OT, and didn’t fade. MTSU goes down, 74-70.

It took 3OTs, but Arkansas finally got the win over Alabama, 91-80.

In the battle of the Tu’s, Tulsa used a strong second half to send the Green Wave to a loss.

The two top dogs met in the MAC (West & East), and Toledo topped Ball State, 68-64, but only after blowing a 20pt lead. The Cardinals will have a change for revenge on last day of conference play, March 6 @ Toledo.

Whyte did everything she could to keep Arizona in the game (26, 7, 8) but she couldn’t stop Cal from getting their 9th win in a row.

Charlotte gave St. Joe’s their first conference loss, and now there are four one-loss teams lurking behind Dayton. Actually, three, ’cause Dayton beat Fordham. But, unlike previous years, it wasn’t a cakewalk.

After the Lions roared away from Michigan State, the Big 10 is a bunch of teams looking up at Penn State – Purdue, Nebraska, Michigan and Illinois.

Fittingly, Delle Donne breaks Dawn Evans’ CAA scoring record against JMU. I’m sure she’s happier that Delaware got the win, 71-64. Oh, and the Hens’ pre-game trick shot was pretty cool, too.

In a battle of two teams who may have coaches feeling the heat, NC State raced away from Clemson, 79-45.

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that looked at mid-season COY candidates in the Big 6, I used my “waiting for the dryer to finish up” time to put together a list for some of the other conference candidates. Feedback welcome:

Ivy: Courtney Banghart/Princeton — I am surprised no ones has snatched her up.

American East: Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Albany/Kelly Greenberg, Boston University.ln the three years KAH has been there, the Danes have established something, outpacing Hartford. Ditto with BU — lordy, has Greenberg REALLY been their nine years? It’s a dogfight.

A-10: Dayton’s Jim Jabir gets all the attention, and rightly so, but at Fordham, Stephanie Gaitley has more victories this season than the Rams have complied in a decade of games (or so it seems). I was skeered for her when she left Monmouth, but she seems to thrive when challenged.

Horizon: Youngstown State/Bob Boldon. The Penguins have been the laughingstock of the league for years, and not just because of their tuxedos. Have you ever tried to play basketball in a tuxedo? They’re still no Green Bay, but they’re much improved under this second year coach.

MAC: Central Michigan/Sue Guevara seems to have found her home at Central Michigan, and she’s done a great job (especially now that the shady dealings at EMU have been exposed).

NEC: Quinnipiac/Longtime coach Tricia Fabbri has the Bobcats on their longest winning streak in program history.

Mountain West: Fresno State/Raegan Pebely: The Bulldogs lost their coach lost their coach (and we know how THAT turned out), replaced late, and are still nipping at last year’s surprise, San Diego State. Shouldn’t actually be a surprise, Pebely has earned COY honors before.

Southern: Wes Moore and Chattanooga have reestablished the “natural” order, but under Charlotte Smith (yes, THAT Charlotte Smith) Elon has surprised the heck outta folks.

SWAC: Cynthia Cooper returned to the SWAC and has made an immediate impact on Texas Southern. Last year they won a total of 2 conference games. This year, they’re second in the Conference (with the only overall winning record — which ain’t sayin’ much, but it is a winning record.)

Sun Belt: Western Kentucky/Michelle Clark-Heard. Mel’s already mentioned this coach as a Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year. (Though, considering the record of honorees post-award, you might wanna miss being tapped.)

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Baylor: Kidnap Odyssey Sims

UConn: Take Olivia’s advice and “Get Physical”

Stanford: Smother Chiney.

Cal learned from their home court lost to Stanford, went in to Maples and broke a couple of impressive Cardinal streaks as they stifled Stanford and got coach Gottlieb a sweet win. (Doesn’t she look like she’s just out of college?)

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb has tapped Tara VanDerveer’s basketball brain on more than one occasion.

One question she has asked the Hall of Famer, for example, is how VanDerveer has always been so good at making opposing teams uncomfortable, taking away the things they do best?

And then on Sunday, Gottlieb’s Bears used that advice against the No. 5 Cardinal.

BTW, that puts UCLA in the top spot in the PAC12.

Florida made Tennessee reeeeeeally uncomfortable, but the Vols used OT free throws to escape with a win.

I’m not going to think about the South Carolina – Georgia game and you can’t make me.

A little reality for Auburn, as they were rolled by TAMU.

Oklahoma State kept Texas 0-fer in the Big 12.

Dayton showed Butler the door, 82-39.

Kansas was no match for Baylor, as Griner went for 33.

Hmmmm… Quinnipiac is 3-0 in the NEC.

That’s BU at 4-0 in the Am. East.

FGCU sure loves their three’s!

In the battle of the H‘s, Hampton squeaked by Howard to stay undefeated in the MEAC.

D’em Jackwabbits are undefeated in the Summit.

D’em Hatters are undefeated in the A-Sun.

D’em Sugar Bears are undefeated in the Southland.

D’em Hilltoppers are now at 6-1 in the Sun Belt.

That “squeak” was Cal Poly escaping Pacific in triple OT, 96-95. That game photo says it all.

Yes, Beth is no longer there, but it’s still VCU, and it’s still a nice win for the Billikens: Saint Louis won its A-10 opener for the first time since defeating Fordham in the 2007-08 season

Louisville had to work far too hard to beat Providence. Next up for them: UConn, who soared over the Eagles.

How important is Ellenberg to Oklahoma? Wicked important.

Speaking of wicked important, Graham catches up with Toledo’s Naama Shafir

Amidst more humble, if quintessentially Midwestern, surroundings, Toledo beat Bowling Green 48-38 in a game far more entertaining than the final score suggested. A redshirt senior from Israel who wasn’t about to lose what might be her last appearance in that big game led the Rockets with 23 points.

Ranked No. 27 in the first official RPI release and receiving votes in one of the major polls when the week began (in addition, pardon the plug, to sitting eighth in espnW’s mid-major poll), Toledo came into Sunday’s game on the heels of a loss at home against Central Michigan that will likely cost them dearly in those measures of national recognition. A potential 0-2 conference record after a 12-1 start to the season hung heavy over their heads, all the more considering Bowling Green was 60-5 at home in MAC play over the past eight-plus seasons prior to Sunday.

Shafir was supposed to be playing professionally by now, but an ACL injury last season delayed her departure. It also saved the Rockets on Sunday. In a game that was exactly as physical, without being dirty, as could be expected in an Ohio derby, Shafir hit long jumpers and short pull-ups, finished drives and sought contact to get to the free throw line.

The Terps’ Thomas is espnW’s player of week and Michelle and Mechelle do the video thing.

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Notre Dame survived a post-big win let down, but it took overtime.

Connecticut failed to lose two games in a row for the zillionth time, but there was some serious butterfingers involved.

In the battle of the Reds, Rutgers gave Louisville a scare, but the Cardinals pulled away in OT.

The Longhorns started the year strong, but Big 12 competition is proving to be another matter. Newcomer to the Conference West Virginia wrangled them good, 53-49.

Seton Hall still doesn’t care their coach is leaving for the W. They take down the Bearcats, 64-56.

Stanford thought about it… and then said, no, we don’t want California to win.

The Buffs got back on track against Utah. The Cowgirls did, too.

Speaking of big cats, the Tigers aren’t going away: Rookie quintet making early contributions

Every season, there are always uncertainties about how the freshmen on a team will adjust to college-level play and the extent to which they will be able to contribute. For the five freshmen on the women’s basketball team, however, these questions have hardly been an issue. Despite the presence of a talented senior class, the freshmen quintet, consisting of guards Amanda Berntsen, Michelle Miller and Annie Tarakchian along with forwards Alex Wheatley and Taylor Williams, has received considerable playing time and provided an offensive boost in scoring and rebounding for the Tigers. The Class of 2016 has combined to score nearly a quarter of the Tigers’ total points so far this season, with each member averaging at least five minutes per game.

A full-strength Baylor continues their demolition of the opposition. This time, Iowa State.

Hmmm… UTEP looks to be strong again this year. We have to wait until Feb 7th for their game against Tulane.

Keeping an eye on Cal-Northridge and Fresno State — both still undefeated in conference play.

Nice check in from the “local paper” on Iowa’s freshman: Ex-Mainstreeter great acclimates to being a Hawkeye

No, it wasn’t the dreaded three letters: Stokes relieved injury not worse

Given the alternative, Ohio State women’s basketball team co-captain Amber Stokes didn’t complain yesterday about needing a pair of crutches to reach the practice gym in Value City Arena.

The fifth-year senior suffered a sprained left knee near the end of the first half on Sunday in a 79-73 loss to Illinois. The possibility that she had suffered a season-ending ligament tear crossed her mind.

Jim Massie at the Dispatch writes about Ohio State’s 0-2 Conference record: Buckeyes’ slow start must end with stops

Tough times for the Catamounts: Overwhelmed by the first-place women’s basketball team in the America East Conference, the University of Vermont suffered a 58-30 defeat to Boston University.

Still tough times for the Black Bears: Hartford hands University of Maine women’s basketball team 11th straight loss

Looks like Williams-Flournoy got outta the Big East when the going was good. Writes Mechelle: Coach Flo has plan for Auburn

Terri Williams-Flournoy had been here in Missouri before, but this was the first time in her new role as Auburn coach. In her 12-year apprenticeship as an assistant, she spent two seasons at Missouri State.

Williams-Flournoy — known as Coach Flo by her Tigers — has paid her dues in the profession she was practically born into. Part of a basketball family in Virginia that includes brother Boo Williams — he’s one of that state’s most influential youth hoops gurus — Williams-Flournoy climbed the coaching ladder with a purpose and a plan.

And now, she’s in her first season in what is a new era for the SEC. Pat Summitt is in an emeritus role at Tennessee, but not head coach of the Lady Vols for the first time since 1973.

Have you noticed? FSU women’s basketball quietly excelling – With recent winning ways, Seminoles may soon cast shadow on other sports

The women’s basketball team has silently tip-toed to a 12-2 record and have placed themselves among the game’s most elite programs. The Seminoles are No. 5 in the nation in scoring, averaging 82.3 points per game and their field goal percentage of 49 percent only trails Baylor and Connecticut, two perennial National Title contenders.

The .com says that Angel McCoughtry wants you to trust and believe.

Speaking of Angel, from Mechelle’s chat:

kevin (macon ga): Angel McCoughtry said on wnba.com that she had “nothing to do with the coaching change”. Should we believe her?

Mechelle Voepel: Maybe that means she actually wasn’t the one to call Marynell Meadors to tell her she was fired? :) Of course she had something to do with it. But, anyway, it’s water under the bridge now. Fred Williams is the Dream’s coach, and Angel will be back as his star player. These things happen in pro sports … look at the NBA and coach firings and players saying, “Oh, I had nothing to do with it!” Meadors, I believe, would still like to return in some capacity to the league, but if not, she’s had a long career in the sport with a lot of accomplishments. I feel bad for her that things ended in Atlanta as they did, though. She deserved better. Now Angel and Fred will have a revamped East – at least in terms of the new coaching hires – to deal with.

Congrats are in order: U.S. Men’s, Women’s Olympic Teams Honored By USA Basketball and Taurasi Is Named USA Basketball’s Top Female Athlete (sorry anti-tank-Merc fans)

Oops! WNBA’s Maya Moore’s Olympic Ring Stolen, Sold to Gold Buying Store and Phew! Man charged with selling ring stolen from WNBA player Maya Moore

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It would have bee my pleasure to nominate you for UoY, Fordham Rams (11-17, 2-11 A-20), but you needed to seal the deal. As it was, the Bonnies had to fight back in the second half to stay perfect in conference play. The 52-45 win earned St. Bonaventure their first Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season team championship in any sport and made the 2000+ fans in the stands very happy. Said Bona coach Crowley:

“Look over the last 10 years and the teams who have been No. 1 in our conference. Look at the size of the school, where they’re located, their funding. This is not supposed to happen. And it just did. … It’s unfathomable to everyone except these players. They saw it, went after it and got it. No one can take that way from them.”

Not quite a candidate for UoY, but deserving of a nomination, Ohio (6-8, MAC) did do a number on Bowling Green (12-2, MAC). Down five in the first half, Semeka Randall’s team turned up the defense and got just enough offense to take down the Falcons, 60-56. It’s the Bobcats have beaten the Falcons at home in a decade. Writes Matt Sussman at the Hustle Belt (No, YOU’RE a longshot for an at-large NCAA bid):

The Falcons had won their last eight games against the usually mediocre Bobcats and once again they are not considered a major factor in the MAC race. But OU’s senior leader Tenishia Benson was a major player tonight. With the game tied and essentially the final possession, Benson had the play of her career at the right time: a driving layup, plus the foul, whose ensuing free throw she missed and rebounded herself, forcing a jump ball and getting the possession back. It was essentially a huge final 10 seconds, and a normally composed Falcons team was caught with their pants down.

Hey, if you can’t win the tournament, make it difficult for someone else to.

All eyes turn to Eastern Michigan, which helped itself tremendously with their win over Toledo on Tuesday. Under coach AnnMarie Gilbert (an Oberlin graduate - where she was a rock star),  EMU is makin’ noise and here’s hoping the fans notice. This “nugget” from Rich Rezler pre the Toledo game: ” from the “Rocket Docket” blog by Toledo Blade sports writer Ryan Autullo:

“EMU has drawn a total of 4,894 fans to its 10 home games. (Toledo) has topped 5,000 in each of its past two home games.”

Ball State is next for EMU (at home, the 25th), then they’re at Central Michigan (28th).

My favorite “way under the radar, but looking like its working it way up” team, New Hampshire, is now at 8-7 in the Am. East. and they’ve guaranteed their first winning season since 2005-06.

In the battle of the dogs, BU recovered from their first conference loss, and the Terriers downed the Retrievers, 61-56.

The other big dog of the Am. East, Albany, rolled over Binghamton,69-37. The win marks the Great Danes’ first 20-win season since moving in to DI play.

Temple’s win (The last of Dawn’s recruits, Shey Peddy, 31 points) over St. Joseph puts them at 12-1 in the A-10. The Owls could make it an interesting conference tournament. Looking at their schedule, Cardoza has done a nice job of out of conference scheduling (something the Bonnies will have to beef up): Ohio State (L, by 4), TAMU (L, by 12), St. John’s (L by 6), Rutgers (L, by 21), Duke (L, by 11). Their only in-conference loss? At St. Bonaventure, by 11.

Oh, and I’m not ignoring Jabir’s Dayton Flyers, who ate the Musketeers for lunch. They’re 11-2 in the conference (Losses to Temple and St. B). Their tough out-of-conference games included: UConn (L), Toledo (L), Bowling Green (W)… and Cincy? (L) (Which is why I’m wondering about who gets COY votes in the Big East. I can’t imagine the winner won’t be Muffet, but….)

Bucknell’s run in the second half against American almost had the Bison’s getting a nomination for best supporting UoY, but the Eagles held on for the 62-59 victory, and a still perfect Patriot League record, and become the first team in league history to begin conference with 13-straight wins.  Not jinxin’ them, noI’mnot, BUT, no team has finished regular season conference play 14-0. Lisa Strack had a key assist to secure the win, and her team-high 19pts pushed her over the 1000pt mark in her career.

Something’s gotten in to little ole St. Louis (who are up for the best supporting UoY award since they took down Duquense, 56-55). Last night they (10-8, 4-9, A-10) took Charlotte (15-2, 7-6 ) to overtime and got a 70-69 win for their efforts.

“This might have been the most fulfilling win we’ve had since I’ve been here,” SLU head coach Shimmy Gray-Miller (Michigan grad) said. “Not many people gave us a chance to win this game. I’ve been talking about how much heart and pride this team has, and tonight they showed it in abundance. We didn’t give up or give in, although we had many chances to do just that.”

The Sugar Bears are roarin’ through the Southland (E, but they’re heads and shoulders above the W, too). Central Arkansas’ latest victim: Nicholls State, by 20 . This is a team that only lost to Georgia Tech by 6, and is probably cranky that SFA gave them their one conference loss (January, 54-45). They may be fierce in the conference tourney and (fingerscrossed’causeIdon’twannajinx’em) in the NCAA tourney.

Well keep things interesting, why dontcha? Samford (17-10, 12-6 Southern) took down Chattanooga (1908, 14-4), 58-48.

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attention from Graham for their long, steady evolution into an A-Sun power: FGCU eyes first NCAA tournament – Eagles a 3-point launching, turnover-forcing group just on the outskirts of the Top 25

For a guy who hasn’t gone anywhere, Karl Smesko has come a long way.

As a result, Florida Gulf Coast is going places.

A decade ago, Smesko was the coach of what he thought would be an NAIA program, one that had yet to play its first game. He worked out of a makeshift office in a trailer he shared with other members of the fledgling athletic department. His first individual workouts took place on the asphalt of an outdoor court, constructing a team even as the school in Fort Myers, Fla., constructed a building in which it could play.

Yet his team won by 17 points the first time it took the court. The next night, it won by 46 points. It lost just once that first season, rolling to a 30-1 record against the likes of Indiana Tech, Cardinal Stritch University and Flagler College.

Like a lot of coaches winning in the most distant reaches of college basketball, Smesko moved on to bigger and better things. Unlike almost any of his peers, he didn’t actually move to do so, save for relocating to a better office.

Longtime readers of the WHB are familiar with the Eagles’ story, but it’s great to have them get wider exposure. Focusing on the non-big six conferences is an essential part of building the game from the bottom, middle and top.  I’m looking forward to ESPN’s stories of program redemption (Fresno State, 10-0 WAC), program (re?) emergence (Boston University, 13-1, Am. East), program building (UTEP, 13-0 C-USA), and program fortitude (Middle Tennessee 14-0, Sun Belt).

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at about half time, most of the numbered world was rather askew. Injuries and unfocused play seemed the norm, and tight games or deficits were everywhere.

But, come the second half, balance was restored and all moved forward as expected for Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Miami and Penn State. (Gotta wonder, though, how bad Glory’s injury is — no fun for TN as they prepare for Notre Dame)

Not many issues for Gonzaga, Stanford, UConn, Ohio State, Delaware, Purdue  and Green Bay.

Vandy didn’t get the memo, though. They started slowly against Arkansas and never recovered, as the Razorbacks got their first win against the Commodores since 2006.

UNC took out its frustrations on (who else) Va Tech and Hatchell got her 600th as a Tar Heel.

Hmmmm, South Carolina isn’t building on their past record — they lost to Auburn, 53-49.

BU is now 6-0 in the America East. (Hello, Graham? Mechelle? Michelle? Some attention please?) Plenty of games still to play, but keep your eye on the Feb 18th home game against Albany.

Oooooo, that was close: In a match up between the top teams in the MAC, it was Bowling Green that escaped still unscathed. They were 61-58 winners over Miami (OH).

Bwahahahaaa, take that! In the “former WNBA-players-now-coaches” rematch, Cynthia Cooper’s UNC-Willmington got their revenge as they eked out a 57-56 win over Beth Cunningham’s VCU.

Bang! There’s now a dent in the Pride’s CAA record: James Madison took them down, 81-63.

Remember when Michigan State was ranked? They’re really shaky this year — Minnesota defeated them 71-65. Rumor has it the Gophers have a nice young point guard.

The Shockers are now 6-0 in the MVC. I guess this means I’m going to have to research the history of their nickname, huh?

Don’t mess with NAIA D-II, #5 Concordia (NEB). They defeated Nebraska Omaha, 68-60.

It’s early, but with their win over Utah State, Fresno State in now 2-0 in the WAC.

USC moved to 5-1 in the Pac-12, taking down the Ducks, 92-73.

Don’t know that Spoon is having much fun this season: the Techsters lost to Hawaii. No disrespect intended, but Hawaii!

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Coach Hatchell says her team didn’t quit, they just got frustrated. I can understand why UNC might have been frustrated — getting blown out on national television can do that to you (and goodness knows, every ranked team has pummeled one team or another into dust).

But, when you are getting beaten every which way but loose, viewers start to assess you by how you handle it — and I think Lobo’s comment in the first half about “not sprinting back on defense” says a lot about the state of mind of the Tar Heels.

I’m also thinking Hatchell may regret her “Stringer-esque” ramble about “physical play,” if only for the reason that it will probably inspire some “you want some whine with that cheese” responses. Like, say, this one from Jeff Jacobs

She said she wasn’t criticizing officiating. She was talking philosophically. And on and on she went … about scoring in volleyball and soccer.

It was all well and good, but here’s the problem. This game wasn’t physical at all. At some point, you had to wonder, was she using the occasion as a soapbox to change the game or, more probably to deflect attention away from a truly hideous beating.

In other (more interesting) games:

Maine got a huge win, beating Vermont 70-60. This doesn’t make the Black Bears world beaters (they’re 1-4 in the Am. East), but it may be indications that they’re moving in the right direction.

Another fun name to type: The Retrievers moved to 4-1 in the American East with their 71-59 win over Hartford. The Hawks are having no fun this year – they’re 10-9, 1-4 in conference play.

In a match up of American East undefeated, it was BU using a strong second half to take down Albany, 58-54.

New head coach Jenny Palmateer (Hey – did we catch this WATN? Olympian and Maryland great Jazz Perazic - who I had the pleasure to meet at the WBHOF induction a couple of years ago – is an assistant) has Monmouth at 4-2 in the NEC (of course, it was courtesy of the victory-challenged St. Francis (NY)).

It looks like Sacred Heart has (for the moment) displaced perennial NEC champ St. Francis (PA) — the Pioneers stomped the Red Flash by 29.

Joy for first round tourney attendees – Hampton is 5-0 in the MEAC. Don’t pack your dancing shoes too early (’cause Hampton does have a fab band), Florida A&M is also 5-0, while Howard sits at 5-1. Hampton faces Howard on the 23rd and will have to wait until Feb 25th to battle FAMU.

The Lady Flames gave the Buccaneers their first Big South loss – both stand at 4-1 in conference play. New head coach Jennifer Hoover (ex-Cal assistant) has High Point atop the league at 5-0.

Ouch. The Illini missed their first Big 10 win by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin.

Eastern Illinois now stands at 4-0 in the Ohio Valley conference. Morehead State (yes, THAT Morehead State) sits at 4-1, and they’ll meet Feb 4th.

In the meeting of the Dakotas del sur, it was the Jackrabbits over the Coyotes. SD State is 7-1 in the Summit with Oral Roberts (who have the Jacks their one conference loss) lurking at 5-2.

That’s the Bengals of Idaho State (hey, if you’re a Judy Garland fan, you get a kick out of games being played in Pocatello) sitting at 5-0 in the Big Sky with their 78-63 win over Portland State.

The Terps shook off their post-loss hangover and defeated Virginia, 68-61.

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Some great games yesterday mean wicked tough decisions for the Committee (check out Charlie’s latest brackets) and heartbreak for bubble and near-bubble teams. (And I’m thinking the WNIT won’t be disappointed at their choices.)

It’s been a pretty horrible season by Jen Rizzotti standards (16-15 overall), but her team pulled together a superb tourney run. They beat Boston University, 65-53, in front of a raucous Boston crowd to steal a bid to the NCAAs.

Their 18-16 record made Utah the obvious underdogs against the Horned Frogs (22-10), but that didn’t phase freshman Michelle Plouffe. She scored 8 of her 24 points in OT, and the Utes grabbed the Mountain West championship and an automatic bid.

The Midshipmen are dancing, courtesy of their comeback against American. What a win for the home crowd to witness: they were down 12 at the half and won by 7 to earn their first Patriot League championship.

“Obviously all the girls on the team have been dreaming of this since they were little, from kindergarten all the way up to this moment,” Geif said. “To walk up the ladder and cut down the net was the greatest feeling, just knowing we had all done it together. It was really incredible.”

It’s (pretty) certain LaTech is dancing, but they’re getting in because of their record, not because they won the WAC title. That honor goes to Fresno State, who used a buzzer-beater to avoid (yet another) OT and snag a 78-76 win and punch their dance card.

It wasn’t quite a buzzer-beater, but Robin Jones’ first basket of the game was enough to help Prairie View take down Southern, 48-44 and claim the SWAC title.

Bowling Green’s day went as expected (though it may have been a little tighter than fans would have liked) and they won their 2nd straight MAC championship (and the auto bid) with a 51-46 win over Eastern Michigan.

Their in-conference record (10-6) would suggest that UC Davis’ 66-49 victory over Cal Poly to win the Big West championship was an upset, but their out-of-conference record (24-8) suggests otherwise. Either way, the results mean they are going to the NCAAs and coach Sandy Simpson has to wait a little longer his to start his retirement.

Hope MEAC champs Hampton will bring their fabulous band with them when the play in the NCAA tourney. They earned the right after easily handling Howard, 61-42.

Congrats to Chicago State who grabbed the lead and held on for a 74-66 win over North Dakota. The Great West championship is theirs.

Tulane battled, but they couldn’t keep up with Joi William’s UCF Knights. Central Florida’s 85-73 win means they’re the C-USA champs and on their way to the Big Dance.

Doesn’t it feel like a lot of the conference championship games have featured teams playing each other for the third time? Stanford survived UCLA, Baylor survived Texas A&M, but Portland State was not so lucky. Montana defeated the Vikings 62-58 to clinch the Big West championship and their third trip to the NCAAs in the last four years.

The TBAs are playing tomorrow (DON’T FORGET TO SPRING FORWARD!!):

Horizon: ESPNU has the Butler v. Green Bay game at 1pmEST.

NEC: You’ll find the St. Francis (PA) v. Monmouth game on the U at 3pm. (D’ya think the chair of the D-1 committee might be watching?)

MVC: Is TV-free, but features Northern Iowa against Missouri State.

CAA: The Elena v. Dawn match up is on ESPN3 at 1pmEST. Delle Donne’s offense (29pts) and defense (7 blocks, 10 rebs), helped power Delaware to a 62-47 win over UNC-Wilmington. Meanwhile, James Madison was down by 5 at the half, but roared back to drop VCU by 10. (Dawn dropped 20.)

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West Virginia’s gentle out of conference schedule is showing, as is DePaul’s quiet strength. The Blue Demons took the Mountaineers down. With authority, 78-55.

Marist is still unbeaten in the MAAC.

In spite of a key injury, the Princeton Tigers are still rolling. And, their coach is feeling honored to be in charge.

Maybe flashbacks are good? Texas has won three in a row, and the WATN? for the 1985 undefeated team continues.

The Terriers, with their 9th straight win, are getting more local coverage.

Note to Wolverines: Do not overlook a Gopher.

Th sweet shooting Nittany Lion Lucas helped send Ohio State to another loss.

More press for Suzie: Duquesne’s McConnell-Serio has success at many levels

Oooo, this is a pretty tortured trying-to-be-cute headline: Broncos weathered by Techster storm: Former WNBA star coaches La Tech to victory against BSU

UCLA is off to its best start in 30 years.

Tennessee continues to be the class of the SEC, but you have to wonder how hard Georgia is going to have to work to earn a NCAA bid, as they go down to LSU.

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simply plays better when they’re unranked.

Last night, the #23 Buckeyes lost a lead, and then the game, to Michigan. Michigan had never beaten Ohio State twice in a season and the Wolverines had not won in Columbus since Jan. 21, 2001.

In the ACC, #15 Florida State won a barn burner and #22 Miami survived North Carolina State.

Green Bay stayed perfect in the Horizon League after winning a dog fight with Butler. The Ducks were no match for Stanford, and UCLA put away Arizona State.

Friend Pseudonymity has the “who can figure what’s going on here?” SEC wrap up:

Dawn Staley got her first win against a ranked team at South Carolina by upsetting Georgia behind Newton’s 5 of 5 from the 3 pt. line.

#6 Tennessee overcame a first half deficit to rout Mississippi State behind Johnson’s standout performance.

Kentucky grabs the lead in the final minutes to beat Ole Miss.

Arkansas beats LSU in low-scoring game.

Florida beats Alabama to stop the bleeding at four.

Wednesday saw much of the same ole same ole amongst the ranked teams: #3 Duke smooshed Clemson, #2 UConn survived Rutgers, #2o Iowa State handled Nebraska and #5 Texas A&M v #12 Oklahoma was an Adams/Robinson duel where DRob won the battle, but DAd won the war.

#25 Texas Tech was not so fortunate against Texas, as the Longhorns got a nice win.

BU is now 8-0 in the Am. East. Ditto with Middle Tenn St. And Bowling Green’s home win streak didn’t survive its encounter with the Rockets. From Swish Appeal: Toledo’s “Steel Curtain” defense ends Bowling Green’s 23-game home winning streak

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