“I’m so proud of what these young ladies have accomplished in the last 48 hours,” Fullerton coach Daron Park said. “We challenged them at the beginning of the week to really believe, we challenged them to play for each other, we challenged them to defend, rebound, and play hard.
“We’re not a deep team, and we came through with an amazing performance yesterday (defeating No. 6 seed UCR in Tuesday’s opener). Today was the opposite. The win was a grind, it was hard-fought, it was a slugfest. We challenged them to get one more stop, one more rebound, and (Iwuoha and Butler) did an amazing job.”
WhaddoIknow? Nothin’ about the NEC, obviously. Top seed Central Connecticut State (19-12, 14-4) falls to perennial underdog – who seems to be changing its tune – St. FrancisnolongerNYbutBrooklyn in double OT, 71-63. In the other half of the bracket, Robert Morris (17-14,13-5) got a lead on Bryant (22-9, 14-4), and then held on by its fingernails to secure the 68-62 win. The Terriers will meet the Colonials in the finals to see who gets an NCAA bid. FYI, a second championship would be a nice way to end a coaching career:
Robert Morris University women’s basketball head coach Sal Buscaglia announced Saturday that 2015-16 will be his final season at the helm of the Colonials program. Currently in his 12th season at Robert Morris, Coach Sal, as he is respectfully called, led the women’s basketball program through a rebirth and into a golden age.
“After last year’s championship season, I started to have serious thoughts about retirement,” said Buscaglia. “And when you have thoughts about it, it’s time to do it. It’s been a great run of nearly 40 years and I look forward to this year’s playoffs and next year as well.
#24 FGCU is going dancing, even though they only won the A-Sun semi versus Jacksonville. Why? ’cause the feisty Norse of Northern Kentucky upset Stetson, 53-52… but NKU can’t dance until next year due to their transition from D2 to D1. But don’t think pride won’t come into play. Florida Gulf Coast wants to finish undefeated in-conferece, and NKU would love to repeat the upset they pulled last season.
Also of note: Tyler Summitt’s LaTech team won their first conference tournament game over Florida Atlantic, 84-74. MSTU is next.
Of course, there are a lot of bragging rights on the line at noon Friday in the Las Vegas Thomas & Mack Center, but there also is a hung carrot dangling at the end of that championship net-cutting – a berth in the 2015 NCAA field.
“One thing that got us here was our confidence in each other,” said UNM’s Bryce Owens. “Once we built that throughout the year, that’s what got us here.
“I think this is a really great game to go into the championship game. I think once we get this day’s (Thursday) rest, once we get our minds collected, get back together, we’ll be fine. I think as a team we’re doing great.”
The foundation to get to this point was laid this summer when the team took a retreat to McCall, and there it came up with a pyramid of goals.
“It said ‘finish’ at the top,” sophomore guard Brooke Pahukoa said. “… We knew the final goal was to make it to the championship here, and then hopefully make the NCAA. It feels great knowing that No. 1 goal, we accomplished.”