You’re going to the Big Show!
For the first time in program history, Texas Southern win the SWAC title, upsetting Grambling, 77-66. Lucky them, they’re now going to the NCAA’s and, says Charlie, likely facing UConn. They don’t care!
After years of close calls, the Texas Southern women’s basketball team is finally going to the NCAA Tournament.
Joyce Kennerson had 29 points to lead the second-seeded Tigers to a 70-66 win over top seed Grambling State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game on Saturday at Toyota Center.
“They’ve done something special,” TSU coach Johnetta Hayes-Perry said after the Tigers clinched the school’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. “These ladies have had a few firsts this year and I’m excited to be a part of their first opportunity.”
Another first: Coach Charlotte Smith has completed the rebirth of the Phoenix program and is taking them to their first NCAA tournament. Elon did it the right way, going through the perennial CAA champs James Madison, 78-60.
“I’m hardly ever at a loss for words, but I’m still pinching myself because it still has not quite sank in yet,” Elon coach Charlotte Smith said. “I’m so extremely proud of this team and the efforts that we put forth in every single game in this tournament.”
It’s the culmination of Smith’s six years of program-building, highlighting the current senior class as the group that led Elon over the top. For the former national title-winning player at North Carolina, getting her team to taste success at this level has been driving her.
Make it two WNBAers-as-head-coaches in the NCAAs: For the second time in program history Montana State is going to the Dance. Their first time? When coach Tricia Binford was playing at Boise State – 1993. They took down a feisty Idaho State team, 62-56.
“When you talk about tournament time, it’s when your experience and your seniors need to carry your team and they did that today,” Binford said moments after guiding her team to a program-record 25th victory.
Ferris and Nordgaard did more than carry their team to a single victory. They reestablished the benchmark for program success. They shook off a heart-breaking loss to the Bengals on the same court here a year prior. They helped shepherd a young roster burgeoning with talent and came through time and again when the Bobcats needed them most.
Toledo won its first MAC Tournament title since it defeated Kent State in overtime in 2001. It was the Rockets’ first appearance in the title game since 2010.
“It’s been far too long,” said Toledo coach Tricia Cullop.
Tournament MVP Mikaela Boyd led the Rockets with 27 points. She had 14 rebounds, one block and two steals.
“I thought the defense was sensational the whole game,” Six added. “That’s what won the championship for us.”
It was “unlikely. Improbable,” he added. “We’ve got three starters sitting on the sideline, and then Lupoe gets hurt. And we still find a way.”
Now, the quest is to find a way to win their first NCAA tournament game – something not done in eight tries.
The 49ers went from a 19-point second-half lead to trailing by a basket with under two minutes left, but the 49ers made huge plays down the stretch and then saw a potential game-winning shot from the Gauchos miss as Long Beach State claimed the championship and a spot in its first NCAA Tournament since 1992 with a 56-55 victory.
The celebration left 49ers head coach Jody Wynn completely overcome with emotion.
“This is why I came to Long Beach State,” she said. “I wanted to bring back a championship to the Beach.”
New Mexico State led 33-18 at halftime but was aware of the danger of becoming complacent.
“We do probabilities, what’s the percentage that we’re going to win this game, and it was about 75 percent,” Aggies coach Mark Trakh said. “And I said, weren’t the Atlanta Falcons 99.9 percent going to win that Super Bowl game? And they lost it. So it doesn’t always work.”
New Mexico State punched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament after winning its school-record 17th consecutive game. The Aggies will be looking for their first NCAA Tournament victory. “They’ve done an amazing job. I told them this was their legacy,” Trakh said. “They’re going to remember this forever. They’re going to come back and see those banners in the gym.”
Who’s left! If you forgot to “spring forward,” you’ve missed the start of the last day of qualifying.
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Having the No. 1 conference based on the RPI has been a source of pride for the Pac-12 women’s basketball coaches this year.
Most of the conference coaches have bought in to trying to schedule better nonconference opponents in an effort to increase the conference’s standings around the conference.
And while that has been the case, that won’t necessarily mean conference teams on the bubble will have a better chance of getting into the field of 64 when the brackets are announced beginning at 4 p.m. Monday.
Whichever team lands in Stockton will face an adjustment if it prevails and returns to Dallas for the Final Four.
“If you go to Stockton, you go out and you get acclimated to that time zone and you play,” ESPN analyst and former Georgia coach Andy Landers said on the teleconference. “That’s a challenge, but that’s not as great a challenge as returning back and preparing for, let’s say a Final Four when you advance to that point. … The time zone presents a challenge.”
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