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So, no, James Madison may not have the Dawn Evans star-power that brings them national attention – but they’re still serious about winning the CAA. They dispatched the Pride with ease, 71-54. BTW, keep an eye on the growth of conference-mate Elon.

Iona moved to 11-2 in the MAAC. Nipping at their heels: Quinnipiac, Siena and, of course, Marist (11-2).

As expected, it was a battle – one that went to OT. Missouri State defeated Northern Iowa, 78-75, to tie for the top spot in the MVC.

Penn looks to rule the Ivy this season… Princeton will have a chance to say something about that on March 8th.

The undercards made it interesting, but the higher ranked teams prevailed in each of the match ups.

#5 Maryland by 9.

#8 Arizona State by 4.

#9 Oregon State by 8.

#15 Stanford by 5.

Games you might want to pay attention to this weekend:

Bucknell, at 9-1 in the Patriot, faces Holy Cross.

Jacksonville will try and rebound from their loss to FGCU as they face Stetson. The Hatters aren’t strong this year, but they have a history in the conference.

Abilene Christian looks to bounce back from their first in-conference loss when they go up against Southeastern Louisiana.

(Current) top dogs in the WCC will battle: Saint Mary’s will face BYU.

Who want the top spot in the OVC? Tennessee-Martin (8-1) battles SIU-Edwardsville (9-1).

How about in the C-USA? UTEP (9-1), coming off their first conference loss, goes up against the Hilltoppers (9-1).

Big Sky conference leaders Montana State will go up against conference scorer, Sacramento State.

Sunday

#13 Louisville is on a hot streak going into their game against #3 Notre Dame. A win sure would help distract folks from the mess their men’s program is in.

Duke is no longer ranked, but maybe they’ll get riled up v. #16 Miami.

In the Big East, St. John’s v. Seton Hall go after each other in a good local rivalry.

#21 Missouri may be fighting to continue to be ranked as they go up against #11 Mississippi State. 

Can Missouri State continue their winning ways against Drake (8-2)?

A little right-the-ship time for #23 Tennessee, as they travel to College Station and face the #12 Aggies?

Interesting: Girls basketball team at Pike receives visitor from NCAA following season-ending brawl

A major player for women’s basketball in the NCAA gave the Girls’ Basketball team from Pike High School a lesson they’ll likely never forget following a season they don’t want to remember.

It was going to be a promising season for the Pike Girls’ Basketball team. Two of the players had already committed to play basketball at D-1 schools. That is until January 15th, the girls’ big game against Ben Davis. Sportsmanship was noticeably absent from the court. The girls’ basketball teams from Ben Davis and Pike High Schools erupted in a mid-game brawl, with all of it caught on camera.

Looking at the future? WNBA star Tamika Catchings interns at NBA offices

WNBA’s Angel McCoughtry dispels same-sex stereotypes

Angel McCoughtry, the star forward for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream and Olympic gold medalist, came out as gay with fiancée Brande Elise last year after an alleged dispute with her overseas team during the U.S. off-season. “With all the energy I felt this was something I had to do and I wasn’t thinking about the effects it would have on my career,” she said.

Since coming out, she has lost friendships and disappointed family members, but despite the ongoing chaos, McCoughtry has continued to push forward with her life. 

In anticipation of Monday’s South Carolina game…

Charlie offers: Childhood home is where it all started for Breanna Stewart

The sound of leather on pavement was all too familiar to the residents on an otherwise quiet street marked with brick houses and finely groomed landscape in this town just north of Syracuse. One by one, neighbors popped their heads out of front doors as the noise instantly took them back in time.

And sure enough, Breanna Stewart was dribbling a basketball on a nearby driveway.

From the Garnet and Black: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. UConn Huskies: The UConn Blog’s Aman Kidwai gives his take

From The State: Dawn Staley on upcoming game against UConn

Also from The State: Now we can talk about it

ABC Columbia goes One-on-One with Dawn Staley

From Mechelle: South Carolina seniors Mitchell, Sessions savoring the moment

Sessions and Mitchell are trying to absorb it all and then file it into that vivid section of long-term memory … while also attempting not to be overwhelmed by the emotions and difficult tasks ahead. There already have been plenty, with more to come. The Gamecocks have an SEC matchup with visiting Kentucky on Thursday (SEC Network, 7 p.m. ET), and then their long-anticipated showdown with No. 1 UConn on Big Monday (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET) at Colonial Life Arena.

The game against the Huskies will be the most spotlighted women’s basketball game — and perhaps women’s sports event of any kind — ever in the Palmetto state. This is the vision coach Dawn Staley had when she took the job eight years ago, and it’s what she sold to incoming recruits: “Come be a part of building this. I have the blueprint.”

Also from Mechelle: How UConn senior Breanna Stewart makes it all look so easy

Breanna Stewart has got it all down now. In a way that’s both friendly and business-like, she anticipates the media’s questions before they’re asked, and then answers in complete and polished sentences. She wears the cloak of “best player in women’s college basketball” not just comfortably, but even effortlessly.

Surely, though, it’s not that easy. Coach Geno Auriemma’s UConn “system” has produced 10 NCAA championships and a group of elite players whose personal accomplishments have become a part of basketball lore.

But this, too, is one of the program’s hallmarks: The superstars shine very brightly without seeming to bask in their own limelight. (Or at least not too much. Diana Taurasi might have done a little basking, but not at the expense of her team’s goals or her own growth.)

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The biggest surprise: What happened in the Ivy?

I leave, and Harvard looks poised to take the crown…. I come back, and Courtney (with lots of help from red-hot Blake Dietrick) is working on a 7-game win streak and now has the Tigers on top. And the Quakers are lurking (after suffering a “what the heck!” loss to Dartmouth)!

Kudos to Penn head coach Mike McLaughlin, who’s in his fifth season at Division I. You may recall, McLaughlin came over from the very successful program at Holy Family. How good in he? From his bio:  “The fastest coach in the history of women’s college basketball to reach 400 victories.”

The Danes still rule the America East, but Magarity’s UNH team continues to improve. Albany will meet the Wildcats tomorrow.

Take your eye off the A-10 for a moment, and boom, someone else is in charge. This week, it’s Dayton. The tourney ought to be great, what with six teams clustered together hoping to regain the upper hand.

It’s Hatters v. Eagles in the Atlantic Sun.

Not quite a power shift in the Big South, but both Winthrop and High Point (14-4) are ahead of Liberty (13-5), even with the Flames win over the Eagles.

So, maybe Lady Swish was NOT kidding and this is James Madison’s best team. They’re running away with the CAA. Even better, you can Meet the woman who’s going to make Dawn Evans healthy again

Erika Evans laughs when asked the question.

Did you ever think you’d be donating a kidney to someone?

“It wasn’t exactly on my bucket list,” she says.

Evans’ recipient is another Evans — that would be James Madison’s Dawn Evans, her first cousin. Dawn, suffering from focal segmental glomerular sclerosis since December 2009, will receive the new kidney in Nashville in the next two to three weeks. Evans learned her kidney condition had deteriorated when she returned home to Clarksville, Tenn., over Christmas from Arras, France, where she had been playing basketball.

Key game coming up for the Wright State Raiders on Thursday. They’re in 1st place in the Horizon League and host the team that shares the same in-conference record, Green Bay.

Equally important game looming for MAAC-leading Iona on the 2nd, when they face Marist. But, they’ll have to get through Quinnipiac first. Obviously, the Gaels will lean heavily on Damika Martinez, their Nancy Lieberman Award finalist.

Gonna be a great finish/conference tournament in the Mid-American. Bowling Green and Central Michigan sit atop the East & West with similar in-confrence records (they split the regular season games.) The Chippewas have earned a share of  program’s first-ever regular season Mid-American Conference West Division title.

MTSU’s Raiders have done just that to their new C-USA teams. They’re ranked #23, and they look to have a clear path to the conference title.

Deja vu, as always, with Hampton as the top dog in the MEAC. What’s surprising is to see how far Howard has fallen…. and that it’s North Carolina A&T (and their defense) who hopes to challenge the Pirates. They face each other in the last game of the regular season.

The Skyhawks rule the roost in the Ohio Valley (West AND East).

Navy is surging in the Patriot League — even with a loss to Armythanks to their seniors.

“It really is amazing when you think about it. No one could ever have expected this group of women to do what they have done,” Pemper said of her first full recruiting class. “I think the fact they fit together so well position-wise has been a big aspect of it. They each have their own niche. There’s no doubt the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.”

Navy’s five seniors, who collectively have played 14,903 minutes and 560 games during their careers, will be honored prior to Saturday afternoon’s final regular season home game against Holy Cross. It will be an emotional ceremony as always, but particularly because of what this class has meant to Navy women’s basketball.

It’s the Mocs coiled atop the Southern and a battle of the Southern’s (Texas and SU) in the SWAC. Of course, Southern has other issues it’s dealing with.

Their loss to BYU means Gonzaga can’t rest easy as the top dogs in the WCC.

Wow – N.J.I.T is the Last of the Independents. Kinda lonely.

Smokin’ Musket is cranky: West Virginia Women’s Basketball, Lacking the Respect They Deserve.

Crappy news out of NC State: Myisha Goodwin-Coleman and Lakeesa Daniel gone to ACLs.

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Boom! Down goes #20 Iowa State. Oklahoma is 12-7 (3-3 B12) and it’s their first win AT Iowa State since 2008.

Boom! Down goes #9 Kentucky. Alabama is 9-10 (2-4 SEC) and it was IN Lexington.

Boom! Down goes #6 Maryland. Virginia is 10-9 (3-3 ACC). Yup, it was a “trap game.”

Almost-boom! #3 Duke escapes in OT. (Of course, it would be OT!) #24 Florida State is 14-5 (2-4 ACC).

Almost-boom, deja vu! #25 Gonzaga escapes in OT. (Of course, it would be OT!). Loyola Marymount is 5-14 (2-6 WCC).

In other games:

Whoops! Nevada surprised Fresno State, 63-60.

Whoops! Michigan State got surprised by Illinois, 61-51.

Seton Hall HAS improved, taking down Xavier to move to 12-5.

Penn HAS improved, taking down Temple, 74-70.

A lot of the conference races are a paragon of parity, but Southern is having none of that, moving to 6-0 in the SWAC with their win over Mississippi Valley State.

Ditto with Navy, which is 7-0. Army, Bucknell and American are lurking… but it’s still a tough first year in the Patriot League for Boston University.

Middle Tennessee is 5-0 in C-USA. That’s odd to type. Speaking of the Blue Raiders: Alysha Clark doubling as WNBA player, college coach

Speaking of C-USA – yup, another OT to our list: UTEP over Southern Miss by 1 (and the Miners had to come back from 23 down to make that happen.)

The battle of the Green Clad (Tulane v. Charlotte) added to our OT list. (The Green Wave won.)

Western Michigan exploded in OT (of course) to defeat Miami (OH).

And more OT: Georgia State over LA-Lafayette by 5.

OT: Ole Miss over Mississippi State by 2.

OT: The Fightin’ Campbell Camels over Winthrop by 3.

OT: Niagara over Manhattan by 4.

OT: Northern Colorado over Northern Arizona by 4.

My fault. VCU is now 4-3 in the A-10. It’s now Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham and St. Joe’s.

Idaho’s victory over Grand Canyon lets me type the following: Vandals rule the WAC.

Kansas couldn’t keep their upset mojo going against #8 Oklahoma State (though they tried).

Meanwhile, Baylor took their revenge on the Jayhawks in-state rival, stomping Kansas State in the first half and, depending on your point of view, cruising or giving coach Mulkey more cause to play her bench — or worry — in the second half.

#11 Tennessee used its game against Florida to regain its equilibrium after their loss, and to support “We Back Pat.”

The #2 Irish had no issues with Miami, even with Lloyd’s knee issues.

#7 North Carolina pulled away from Wake Forest in the second half.

#15 LSU eked away from Auburn in the second half.

#17 Texas A&M needed a comeback in the second half to defeat Missouri.

#1 UConn rolled, this time behind Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who seems to be finding her groove. Hard not to look ahead to Feb. 8th when Louisville travels to Connecticut.

In other news:

Un-fans of East Coast WNBA All-Star Games better show up in Arizona.

He’s baaaaak: Fred to coach Tulsa.

Sheeeee’s baaaaaak: Angela Taylor, a former executive with the Washington Mystics, Minnesota Lynx and WNBA, has been named the Atlanta Dream’s executive vice president and general manager.

Not the timing she’d like, but it’s better to have a healthy kidney.

Full Court notices the Gaels, too: Newly dominant Iona fuels hot race for top of MAAC

Marist adjusts to new lineup for same winning result

USC Trojans program on the rise (SPOILER ALERT!)

Congrats! St. Norbert College’s Tilley becomes 13th coach in DIII to reach 600 wins

Hello! Q&A with Becky Hammon

What’s next? Karen Bryant ready for new challenge

More congrats: E.J. (Lee) Ok’s Jersey Retirement Set for Saturday. Ok is one of two players in program history to score more than 2,000 points in a career as she finished with 2,208 points (second all-time).

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but she did get a blog post out of the experience. (I am a little worried that her mind is running rancid, though.)

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WATN? Dawn Evans

Doin’ reality.

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a Clint Eastwood western, Nate looks at The Undrafted

At the beginning of the NCAA season when we first looked at WNBA Draft prospects, James Madison guard Dawn Evans was a name that was hard not to consider as one of the top early prospects.

Although we had questions about her chances of being successful in the league as a 5’7″ volume shooter, it would have been far fetched to suggest that she wouldn’t be drafted at all.

But of course, nothing is a given on draft day and while it’s hard to know what exactly led to Evans not being drafted at all, one thing for sure is that her inefficiency as a distributor and scorer probably didn’t help her cause. Nevertheless, when looking at players drafted ahead of her it might be hard to think that she just doesn’t belong among the ranks of the drafted as someone who most people considered one of the top guards in the nation coming into the season.

So she has to be among the most surprising undrafted players.

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on a well deserved honor: JMU’s Evans is V Foundation Comeback Award winner

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but there’s a lot more slots to assign.

Anyone who’s followed Dawn Evan’s story can’t help but smile at the fact that the James Madison senior (24pts) and her Dukes get a chance to play in the Dance. A stubborn Delaware team tried to derail them (EDD – 23pts), but in the end the better team won. (And don’t talk to coach Brooks about the Virginia opening.)

Green Bay jumped all over the Butler  Bulldogs early and then held on for a 73-64 victory to clinch on their 10th Horizon title and a chance in the Big Dance (though, Butler’s senior Brittany Bowen did everything she could to stop’em.)

Northern Iowa romped to the Missouri Valley title with a 69-41 victory over Missouri State. That’s 19 wins in a row for the Panthers.

“What a joy it has been from start to finish this year,” Northern Iowa coach Tanya Warren said. “And we were so locked in today.”

The Red Flash (PA) won their 11th title in 15 years with a 15-pt win over Monmouth and earned a measure of revenge (and a trip to the NCAA tourney).

“We didn’t harp on it, but we did lose to them twice this year and that was fuel to our fire,” junior point guard Brittany Lilley said. “We weren’t going to let it happen again.”

The Hawks are young, though, so expect them to be around next year.

There’s a first time Dancer from the Big South, but the coach is no stranger the tournament. Rick Reeves helped build  the powerhouse that is Liberty. On his third try in his new job, his team knocked out the proverbial champs. Gardner-Webb finally won the close one, escaping with a 67-66 win.

“For me, I was like, this is our last chance,” said Monique Hudaon, who led the Bulldogs with 23 points. “Even before the game, one of our teammates’ mom came in and prayed a prayer that was so powerful that everyone in the locker room was in tears. I don’t know. Before she even prayed, I was thinking, this is my last game, this is our last chance. … We all wanted it so bad. We deserved it. Liberty’s a great team, and they fought hard. I’m just soaking up the moment.”

There’s news from those awaiting news:

The Falcons clinched the MAC tourney title and John Wagner at the Toledo Blade writes: BG’s Mr. Not-so-nice weighs in

While the Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team celebrated its Mid-American Conference tournament title Saturday, coach Curt Miller went to confession.

“I have never pushed a team this hard,” Miller admitted after the Falcons’ 51-46 victory over Eastern Michigan at Quicken Loans Arena. “I frankly was not the nicest person to them.”

John Evans from Central Michigan Life writes: CMU women’s basketball awaits postseason fate, knows future is bright

The Chippewas will return three starters in 2011, but the biggest story about the future of the team is the recruiting class brought in by Guevara, ranked No. 43 nationally according to ESPN.com’s recruiting site, HoopGurlz.

“With what we have coming in it is a step. We are building,” Guevara said. “We have been making strides every year. I am very happy with the 2011 class that is coming in. I like where we are going.”

More from Michigan as the Spartans get set to hear their fate

John Cummings at the Dayton Daily News writes: Flyers find out NCAA tourney fate tonight

Count University of Dayton women’s basketball coach Jim Jabir among those unsure what he will see tonight when the 64-team field for the NCAA tournament is announced.

“I have no expectations,” Jabir said. “I am happy we had a 21-win season and I think we played a tough schedule. But, we have some couldas and shouldas in there that has made it speculation instead of a sure thing.

“We are going to play again, we just don’t know where.”

More from Ohio as Jim Foster says the Buckeyes deserve a 3-seed.

If the Southern AD does reject a WNIT bid, it will simply add heartache to a team that coach Sandy Pugh says is “one of my best teams ever.”

On a happier note, the coach of the Hatters is enjoying herself: Former Charleston Catholic star Lynn Bria enjoying the moment as Stetson women’s coach

“I really don’t care who we play,” said Bria, who is 34-58 in three seasons at Stetson. “Regardless of what happens, we are one of only 64 teams left. We were picked 10th in our league, which is next to last. We have a great group of players. They are very tight. They go in and give us their best shot every night.

Writes Mechelle: Maya Moore, UConn chase three-peat – Huskies aren’t overwhelming favorite as in ’08-10, but no one would be surprised

A&M coach Gary Blair said. “But I think there’s almost 20 teams that could get to the Final Four. You gotta have breaks. You gotta have upsets.”

Check out Charlie’s latest Bracketology (and his explanation) and then tune in tonight at 7pmEST to see how on point he was.

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From the AP’s Hank Kurz: Specter of transplant hasn’t slowed JMU’s Evans

There are times when high-scoring guard Dawn Evans needs more help than usual from her James Madison teammates.

Not because the senior is getting double teamed, but because of her failing kidney.

Take JMU’s game against Northeastern on Dec. 18. As the women’s basketball team prepared to take the floor, Evans gathered her squad.

“She said, ‘Ladies, I need you guys to pull through because my energy level is a little low tonight,”’ roommate and teammate Jalissa Taylor recalled, chuckling as she continued.

I don’t think we really were playing good as a team, but she really had to step up. I think that was the game where she had like 30 or 40 points and she played tremendous.”

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with one kidney tied behind her back. From USA Today’s Erik Brady: JMU’s Dawn Evans gives kidney disease her best shot

Watch Dawn Evans as James Madison’s starters are introduced before tip-off. She primps. She poses. She preens.

“All prissy,” says her coach, Kenny Brooks, “like a little girl.”

Then watch Evans, 21, stride onto the court for a game. She swaggers. She struts. And she scores — more than any other woman in Division I basketball.

“When she walks out on that floor, her persona changes,” Brooks says. “She owns it.”

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This time from Virgina (area?)-based Lady Swish’s 2010 – year in review

PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Dawn Evans, James Madison

All the Dukes star did in 2010 was score seemingly at will, lead JMU to a CAA title, battle a kidney disease, become a national spokesman about her condition, become the program’s all-time leading scorer, scorch Virginia for a school-record 42 points, sell popcorn during intermissions, engage in high-level Middle East peace talks…well, she did most of those things, anyway.

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No lead is safe. Especially if Dawn Evans is on the opposing team. Even IF she is battling kidney disease. The woman can flat out shoot.

From the Lady Swish blog:

This one sure looked in the bag for Virginia with four minutes on the clock and the Cavaliers ahead 76-63. But Dawn Evans put on her cape and went to work and scored 13 of the team’s final 19 points.

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Evans’ inspiration goes beyond basketball

There’s a big-time basketball player fighting a courageous battle that most people probably have never heard of.

In this town, Dawn Evans is well known. Around the country, Evans has built a reputation as one of the nation’s deadliest shooters and a sure-fire WNBA lottery pick. Some may argue the James Madison point guard could be a No. 1 selection depending on the team and that team’s need.The question for Evans isn’t if she belongs, it’s if she can play.

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