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and while it doesn’t get the attention the DI – top 25 folks do, it’s still played with skill and a ton of passion.

NCAA Division III – They’ve reached the semis and four teams are headed to Grand Rapids Michigan.

March 20th, 5pm: Thomas More v. Tufts

About the Saints: 

By winning the program’s first sectional championship, these Saints have cemented their place in Thomas More history. They are far from satisfied, and remain focused on their mission to bring a national championship to Crestview Hills. In the midst of the celebration, 2014 graduate Katie Kitchen emotionally embraced her close friend and former teammate Wainscott.

“That’s what it’s about, keeping that tradition and playing for the people before you,” said Wainscott. “To accomplish something that she wanted so bad, nothing beats it.”

About the Jumbos:

The Tufts University women’s basketball team earned a return trip to the NCAA Championship “Final Four” with a 58-52 victory over defending national champion FDU-Florham in the quarterfinals today at Cousens Gym. “We’re so excited to be heading back to the Final Four,” said coach Carla Berube. It’s been a long journey from the end of last year, through the summer and in to pre-season.We’ve worked extremely hard, always together. It’s like a big family. We’re just so excited and so proud of the team.”

March 2oth, 7:30pm: George Fox v. Montclair State (Or, Scott Rueck’s former team v. Carol Blazejowski’s former team)

About the Bruins:

Morris drained five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points to help the George Fox Bruins win a battle of 30-0 teams on Saturday. No. 3 George Fox beat No. 6 Calvin College, the host school, 78-63 to advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four.

“We’re super excited about this opportunity,” Bruins coach Michael Meek said. “We knew this was going to be a difficult task to play Calvin. They have such a great program. I have so much respect for them.”

About the Red Hawks:

MSU (30-1), which also set a new single-season record for victories, will take on undefeated George Fox University (31-0) at 7:30 pm with unbeaten Thomas More (31-0) meeting Tufts (30-1) at 5:00 pm. The winners meet in the national championship game on Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 pm.

It will be the first appearance in the NCAA Division III Final Four for the Red Hawks. Montclair State played in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Final Four in at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles in 1978 and placed third.

NCAA Division II – Third Round

Monday March 16th, 8pm: Union (TN) is baaaack… and they’ll face Nova Southeastern in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: California (PA) is baaack…and they’ll face Bloomsburg in a battle of 1 v. 3 seeds.

Monday, March 16th 7pm: Stonehill will face New Haven in a battle of 4 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 11pm: Cal Poly Pomona will face Cal Baptist in a battle of 7 v. 5 seeds.

In the other half of the bracket:

Monday, March 16th 8pm : They’re baaaaack… Emporia State will face Fort Hays in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monda, March 16th: West Texas A&M will face UC-Colorado Springs in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: Limestone will face Anderson (S.C) in a battle of 2 v. 3 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: Ashland will face Lewis in a battle of 5 v. 2 seeds.

The quarterfinals start March 24th in Souix City, South Dakota.

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A couple of nice primetime games last night.

#8 Louisville hung around for a while, but the combo of  Loyd (2opts) and Reimer (8-8 & game changing blocks) plus poor shooting (33%) doomed the Cardinals against #4 Notre Dame. (Great crowd for TV.)

As usual, junior shooting guard Jewell Loyd led the way for Notre Dame, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds, but this performance was more about guts than flash.

“I think everybody’s going to try to be physical with us,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “That seems to be the game plan. It was a really physical game. That was something you could see we needed to get better at.”

#2 South Carolina v. #6 Tennessee was mighty entertaining – and heartening for the Vols. When South Carolina remember that Izzy was out, they scored. When they didn’t, Tennessee kept it close. It came down to the wire – or, should I say, the endline. Dozier sealed the deal and the Gamecocks, who hadn’t beaten the Lady Vols at home since 1980 and stand 4-47 all-time against them, got the win. (Another great crowd.) Writes Mechelle: 

You hear all kinds of crazy things coming from the stands when you sit on media row. But sometimes, you also hear the absolute truth.

In Monday’s intense, riveting, entertaining, “March-is-right-around-the-corner” game between South Carolina and Tennessee, the Gamecock fans were doing all they could to emotionally power their team to firmly gain the upper hand on the Lady Vols.

Then a fan said, “This is Tennessee. They don’t go away.”

Indeed, even against the No. 2 team in the country, even without their top scorer and rebounder, even with a rotation that realistically went no deeper than six, the Lady Vols pushed South Carolina right to the wire.

But that made the Gamecocks’ 71-66 victory even a little more special. This was a high-level game with a lot on the line: the SEC’s two best teams, both unbeaten in league play, battling it out.

The SEC gave us one upset for the night, as a tight game eventually went to Mississippi, beating #13 Kentucky for the first time in six tries.

“It is a very special victory. It is a program victory,” coach Matt Insell told reporters. “I can’t put into words how satisfying it is to beat a ranked-team like Kentucky. They have had unbelievable wins all year and we beat them by eight. Our team just really went out there and took control.”

Samford gave us the second, as they took down #2 in the Southern Conference, East Tennessee State, 69-46.

“I was really pleased with our preparation,” Samford head coach Mike Morris said. “We have really good young women with good character. And when you have that, you can really challenge them in different ways and their character comes out in their work ethic and how they work through different things. I thought we did a great job of just taking care of the ball tonight. And then, when they made a run, we didn’t fold, and I thought that was big at end of the first half.”

Speaking of the Southern, the conference’s top team, #20 Chattanooga, had its second loosy-goosy game in a row, having to fight off the Mercer Bears, 56-51. The Mocs, who won their 19th SoCo title,  face ETSU next.

#5 Maryland squashed Penn State like a bug, 65-34, and got a nice, shiny Big 10 trophy for their efforts.

I’m really, really proud of this group,” coach Brenda Frese said. “Going into this season there were a lot of unknowns — young team, new conference. To be able to come out and play the way they have in these first 16 games is not easy.”

The NEC got nice and tight as Robert Morris couldn’t shake off its 3-point loss to Bryant and fell to Sacred Heart, 69-60. Bryant and Central Connecticut St. continued their winning ways.

The Central women’s basketball team took control of Monday night’s home game against St. Francis Brooklyn the way it has taken control of most games.

Trailing 16-10 and facing the second-best defense in the Northeast Conference – only Central’s own defense is better – the Blue Devils outscored the Terriers 17-2 over the final 10 minutes of the first half and cruised to a relatively easy victory, 61-43 at Detrick Gymnasium.

Graham offers up a little somethin’ somethin’ on Iowa:

“I feel we have beaten teams that are more talented than we are,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “But because we do those little things better, we have come out on top.”

This is far from the first place wherein it is suggested that what we call chemistry when it comes to sports is much closer to alchemy. It is more magic than science. It can’t be measured. It can’t be quantified. It can’t be tested. Its existence might not be a matter of faith — almost all of us have been part of a workplace, athletic team or club where people got along and have likely experienced the same when such harmony was absent. But its place in the equation of success, whether it resides closer to cause or effect, is entirely a matter of belief. The basic conundrum remains.

Do teams win because they have good chemistry?

Or do teams have good chemistry because they win?

Did you catch this piece on The real Diamond DeShields

The world might never know why Diamond DeShields left the University of North Carolina, but we do know she is ready for a new start at Tennessee.

The 2014 national freshman of the year sat down with espnW recently to discuss her decision to transfer, her relationships with Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell and the Lady Vols’ Pat Summitt and Holly Warlick, and explains why she initially committed to North Carolina.

More than anything, DeShields is eager to bring closure to her decision to transfer to Knoxville. Speculation ran rampant when DeShields left the Tar Heels after her freshman season. 

Oregon State’s gain wasn’t George Fox’s loss:

Kylie Dummer was in tears following her freshman basketball season at Southridge High School in 2010, where the Skyhawks had won their fifth state title in six years.

That was when coach Michael Meek announced to the team he was leaving for a college coaching opportunity at Division III George Fox University in Newberg. The team’s previous coach, Scott Rueck, had left to take the same position at Oregon State – giving Meek an opportunity to bring his success to the collegiate level.

Now in his fifth season leading the Beavers, Rueck has taken that program to new heights. In the same time span, Meek has maintained and built upon the legacy Rueck first created at George Fox.

And in the “no, you really don’t get the idea of ethics”: Riverdale, Smyrna girls basketball teams removed from postseason

The TSSAA removed Riverdale and Smyrna from the high school girls basketball postseason on Monday following a report from a high school referee in charge of their District 7-AAA consolation game held Saturday where he said that both schools “played to lose the game.”

Both Rutherford County schools were placed on restrictive probation by the high school association for the rest of the school year and probation for the 2015-16 school year.

Both schools were fined a total of $1,500 apiece.

In the “we let our play do the talking” news: Neumann-Goretti tops Archbishop Wood for PCL title

FWIW, I’m tossing this out with a h/t to Slam: Filmmakers Seek Crowdfunding for Doc Series on Evolution of Women’s Basketball.

A feature­length documentary, Concrete Rose will use stylized interview portraits of the men and women who are the games trailblazers to tell a universal story about women’s basketball. Thematically organized around on the court play that reflect a wide range of human emotion and experience, the film seeks to reveal a larger more complex portrait of our shared love for basketball.

To be honest, the description is a little fru-fru for me.

In other history news, Ray is Catching up with Carol Blazejowski: Youth basketball, the WNBA, and reflecting on women’s basketball history

The moment stood frozen in time.

“Hi, I’m Carol glad to meet you.”

Over the years I frequently met a new officiating partner in this manner, but this was one of those situations in which I met a former player whose games I covered – a player of legendary proportions whom I virtually idolized for her achievements both on the floor and off of it in the women’s game.

“Hi, I’m Ray nice to meet you,” was the simple response.

Where do you even start when discussing the career of Carol Blazejowski?

On the Aussie front: Canberra Capitals skipper Abby Bishop signs with WNBA side Seattle Storm and

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Pretty good, if you’re a SUNY-New Palz fan

The crowd’s chant began with a minute to play and reached a crescendo at 5:43 p.m. Saturday in the Hawk Center when the SUNY New Paltz women’s basketball team started celebrating.

The chant was “SUNYAC champions.”

New Paltz won its first-ever State University of New York Athletic Conference championship, defeating Geneseo 64-53.

With the title comes an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. The brackets will be announced 2:30 p.m. Monday on NCAA.com.

Ditto if you’re a fan of Hope: Women’s basketball loses to Hope in final seconds of MIAA tourney finals

Hope women’s basketball team came out on top of a closely fought game Saturday afternoon, winning the MIAA tournament championship game 62-59, and gaining an automatic bid to the NCAA D-III tournament.

Super ditto if you’re a Red Hawks fan: At 25-0, Montclair State women’s basketball a surprise juggernaut

For a few rare and ultimately fleeting seconds, the Montclair State University women’s basketball team is actually losing, but the school’s most famous hoops alumna is anything but worried.

“The game is young,” Carol Blazejowski says from her movie theater-style box seat, situated in the top row of the modest bleachers at MSU’s Panzer Athletic Center. It’s a sentence said casually, confidently, the way you might describe the arrival of a train running a minute or two behind schedule.

Pretty good if you are a Tigers fan: Princeton University women’s basketball conquers 33rd straight Ivy League foe, a Buffs fan: Arielle Roberson leads CU Buffs to victory – Colorado struggles on offense, but wins sixth in row, or a fan of Marist, FGCU, Charlotte (Hey, Graham! Hint! Hint!, Green Bay, Albany, Dayton, Toledo, Gonzaga, BU, Texas Southern (First SWAC title in school history. Hey, Graham! Hint! Hint!), Chattanooga, Pacific (Program record for wins), San Diego State, Baylor, UConn, Notre Dame (Triple Double Diggins) and Stanford (CO sets school rebounding record: 24).

Duke fans know their chances for a Final Four were dealt a significant blow when Gray went down. The Blue Devils didn’t miss a beat, though, taking down Florida State and Maryland in comfortable fashion.

St. John’s still on a roll.

Staying in New York: Fordham got a great win over St. Joe’s. Had to take the Hawks to OT to earn their 10th A-10 win and their first 20-win season in 19 years.

A little agita on the sidelines for Tennessee coaches (win), Kentucky coaches (loss), Quinnipiac (win – NEC Champeens), Syracuse (loss – to that feisty USF team), Cal (win) and Southern (loss- giving Alcorn State their 2nd SWAC win), Delaware (win, by the hair on their chinny-chin-chin) and TAMU (lossVandy’s Clark for 30.).

More Bracketology means a road game for Notre Dame?

Let’s get right to addressing the glaring issue in this week’s projected bracket: Notre Dame, a No. 1 seed, potentially would have to play LSU in the second round in Baton Rouge, La.

The pairing obviously is not an ideal situation. However, it’s also not unprecedented. And while the committee (and I) will try to avoid such a scenario, sometimes it just can’t be helped.

The problem started with the addition of St. John’s to the field. That brought the total number of host schools in the tournament to 15. In other words, all but one sub-regional (Columbus, Ohio) will include a host school. That’s great for potential tournament attendance. It’s also a bracketing nightmare.

Nice find from FOB Sue: Miss Basketball’s son carves out his own stellar career

For a while, the chants rang out from the home student section earlier this winter at Concord’s McCuen Gym every time Memorial’s Markese McGuire touched the basketball.

“Your mom’s better! … Your mom’s better!”

There’s any number of ways the chants could’ve been taken.

If the history-appreciating fans meant that McGuire’s mom is better than their own moms — actually an about-face on what all loyal sons once claimed on the playground — well, yeah, that’s a fairly safe bet.

After all, Kim (Barrier) McGuire is still the only Indiana Mr. or Miss Basketball that Elkhart County has ever produced.

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Mel’s blog

Oh, Owls (the Owls (5-4) achieved what teams with long-range purposes are expected to do against underdog opponents – dominant and take care of business.)

Oh, good (It now appears that Delle Donne had suffered a severe viral infection.)

Oh, really? (Sun rumor)

Oh… GAWD! (She immediately mentioned Hall of Famer Carol Blazejowski as a potential candidate.)

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From Mel: Front Office Shake Up In D.C.

General managers of conference frontrunners are becoming an endangered species in the WNBA.

Less than two weeks after Hall of Famer Carol Blazejowski was let go by the New York Liberty following a one-woman show of sorts in the front office as general manager and later president for 14 seasons, it now appears that the likable Angela Taylor is no longer the GM of the Washington Mystics as of sometime Friday morning.

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to weigh in.

From SlamOnline: Strange Timing – The Blaze is snuffed in NYC, and other WNBA notes.

Carol Blazejowski was one of the best women’s basketball players ever – and was also one of the worst general managers in the WNBA.

But New York Liberty fans won’t have Blaze to kick around any more, as she was unceremoniously, and surprisingly, fired on Tuesday. OK, technically her contract wasn’t renewed, but given her interviews and actions recently, she was focused on the 2011 version of the Liberty, not an imminent job search.

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Bloggin’ on the Blaze

by Mechelle: Questions abound as Blaze leaves Liberty

This truth is self-evident: We ought to be just as surprised when not-very-well-explained things happen with the New York Liberty as we are when cats express an interest in chasing mice.

And so it is after 14 years of Carol Blazejowski being the Liberty’s general manager, she is out of that job following … a very good season. Of course.

To paraphrase what a friend who is a Liberty season ticket-holder once told me about the relationship between the team’s front office and its fandom, “The way they always seem to miss opportunities to connect with us, but never miss a chance to make us wonder what in the hell is going on … I’m telling you, that’s a skill.”

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it would be the Guru. And yet, he writes: Blazejowski’s Exit From NY Liberty A Mystery.

ESPN NY’s got nada.

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He writes about Anne, Donna and Blaze: Women’s Basketball Pioneers Shepherd the Game Still

Today they are suits — pro basketball executives — but once upon a time they were kids, looking for a game.

They played their sport at the highest level of its time. Now their game keeps inching toward the rim, and they preside over it.

Donna Orender borrowed her father’s car in suburban Long Island. Didn’t tell him she was heading into the city for a game. Drove down a one-way street and lived to tell the tale. Now she is the president of the Women’s National Basketball Association

Thank you, sir Vecsey, for your appreciation of and advocacy for women’s sports.

If you enjoy his work, drop him a note an tell him so: geovec@nytimes.com

P.S. Ya wanna know more about that AAU game? Check out this article.

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