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but first, the WNIT kicks us off with a fun story: Double Duty In Des Moines: Kansas Band Gets The Assist For Drake Women’s Basketball

A college basketball game without a band present … it’s just not the same, is it? Drake’s women’s team was facing that, though, for its WNIT opener Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa. The school is on spring break, and the Drake band members aren’t on campus.

However, Drake got a capable substitute: The Kansas band was in Des Moines for the Jayhawks’ NCAA men’s tournament game Thursday afternoon.

As for the games:

The band helped! Drake (MVC) over Sacred Heart (NEC), 95-59.

Road-weary UT Rio Grande (WAC) got swept away by TCU (Big12), 97-73.

Arkansas State (Sun Belt) chomped on Southern (SWAC), 68-45.

It was a tight one, as short-handed Nebraska (Big10) fell to Northern Iowa (MVC), 64-62.

Ball State (MAC) went on the road and topped Iowa (Big Ten), 77-72.

Arkansas Little-Rock (Sun Belt) and St. Louis (A-10) went down to the wire, but… Billikens win! 70-69.

And I swoop! Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley) came back to defeat Memphis (American), 79-73. It’s the programs first post-season win since 1999.

Dayton (A-10) fell to Western Kentucky (C-USA), 89-72.

San Diego (WCC) escapes Northwestern (Big 10), 69-65. The Wildcats scored 8 in the first and 35 in the fourth. Coach must be banging his head against the wall.

No, really, remember when they stunk? IUPUI (Summit) over Central Michigan (MAC), a tough program, 63-55.

Bucknell (Patriot) over Akron (MAC), 74-70. The Bison are the first team from the Patriot League to ever win a game in the WNIT, while also posting the program’s first victory in a national postseason tournament.

“We have had a lot of great things happen this year, but to get a postseason win is pretty sweet,” said Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell. “It’s a great accomplishment for our program and our league, and a huge feather in the cap for this gritty team. I am incredibly proud of them.”

Gonzaga (WCC) chewed up undermanned UC Riverside (Big West), 88-54.

Oregon (Pac12) over Long Beach State (Big West) by 8.

After all the waiting and working and wondering, Oregon coach Kelly Graves finally got the glimpse of his team’s future that he’d been looking for the past two weeks.

And he liked it so much that Graves told his rejuvenated Ducks to go play couch potatoes for a day like the rest of America as their reward.

 Welcome to March Madness, ladies. WNIT style.

Nice showing against a program that in no joke: Marshall (C-USA) falls to Ohio (MAC), 76-68.

Eastern Michigan (MAC) led wire to wire, and eked out an away win over Saint Mary’s (WCC), by one, 74-73.

Graduate transfer Chanise Baldwin’s ffensive rebound and put back with 1.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter lifted the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team to a 74-73 victory over Saint Mary’s College in the opening round of the WNIT Thursday, March 17. The Eagles led by as many as nine, but needed Baldwin’s late game heroics to propel the Green and White into the second round of the tournament. 

In a back-and-forth battle, it was Abilene Christian (Southland) who blinked first. UTEP (C-USA) won, 66-62.

Virginia Tech (ACC) over Elon (CAA), 68-59.

Villanova (Big East) ousted Liberty (Big South), 67-51.

Hofstra (CAA) over Harvard (Ivy), 76-50.

Even with the loss of top-scorer Mikayla Venson, Virginia (ACC) managed a two-point win over VCU (A10).

Georgia Tech (ACC) stung Mercer (Southern), 73-56.

Rutgers (Big East Big 10) last-second-shot-ed a win over Georgetown (Old Big East), 57-55.

An improving Wake Forest (ACC) held off Charlotte (C-USA), 72-69.

First round NCAA games I’m keeping my eye on:

Albany/Florida
JMU/DePaul
Chattanooga/Mississippi State
Green Bay/Tennessee
St. Bonaventure/Oklahoma State

Michelle Smith: Tara VanDerveer vs. Jennifer Azzi

Asked to remember the last time they talked on the phone before they found out they would be matched up in the NCAA tournament, both Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer and University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi came up with the same answer.

“Probably just a few weeks ago,” Azzi said.

“Not that long ago,” VanDerveer confirmed. “We talked about some things she was dealing with.”

There will be no talking this week.

Katie Barnes: UConn freshman Samuelson finds her footing

Bonnie and Karlie Samuelson, both of whom played at Stanford, are as responsible as anyone for making Lou the player she is.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be just like them, so that’s where it all started,” Samuelson said. “But once I got older, all I wanted to do was to be better than them.”

When will DePaul Women get their due as NCAA contenders?

Every year, I hear the same thing. “There are no Illinois teams in the NCAA tournament.”

And for the past 14 years, all those who have said that have been wrong.

Why, oh, why, do Illinois residents overlook the DePaul Blue Demons (25-8), who’ve achieved a berth in the NCAA Women’s Tournament for 14 CONSECUTIVE YEARS… also, their 21st overall appearance since 1990?

Jonathan Lintner: Cards’ Hines-Allen hitting high gear in March

Recently named the ACC Player of the Year, Hines-Allen registered a pair of double-doubles to open the postseason and hit 19 of her 33 shots.

“I want to prove to people it’s not a fluke and just give my all every single day,” the sophomore forward said. “That’s how I got the award.”

BTW: Division II has reached the Elite Eight.

4 Florida Southern v. 1 Lubbock Christian (March 22, 1pm)
2 Anchorage-Alaska v. 7 Francis Marion (March 22, 7pm)
1 Virginia Union v. 1 Bentley (March 22, 3:3o)
2 Grand Valley State v. 7 Pittsburgh State (9:30)

The big shockers were seeing #1 Union, #1 Azusa Pacific and #1 Limestone go down in the first round. #1 Ashland feel in the second round. #1 Emporia State lost in the 3rd round.

Division III’s Final Four is scheduled for March 19th, Capitol University, Columbus Ohio.

Tufts (27-3) v. Wartburg (23-7), 5pm.
Wartburg’s Final Four run stranger than fiction

 Amsberry’s Nine will do for a working title. Wartburg College’s surprise run into the NCAA Division III women’s basketball Final Four has the makings of a green-lit sports movie.

The plot is a season salvaged off life support by a group of athletes that had moved on before reuniting to accomplish an ambitious goal.

The script has more than final credits left to be written.

Jumbos book trip to NCAA tournament semifinals for third year in a row

For the past two years, Tufts had gotten it done at home in the postseason. The Jumbos had qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning the NESCAC championship, earned home court advantage and fought their way through dominant first-round wins and overtime thrillers alike to reach the NCAA Div. III championship semifinals, the Final Four.

This year was different. Tufts fell by one point in a heartbreaking loss to Amherst in the NESCAC championship but still earned an at-large bid. 

Amherst (30-1) v. Thomas More (31-0), 7:30PM

Saints on a different kind of mission

You already know what’s the same about the defending champs, so let’s look at what’s different about Thomas More this season.

It all starts with a change in hashtag philosophy.

Sister act adds to Amherst’s legacy

If Amherst head women’s basketball coach G.P. Gromacki hadn’t been persistent when reaching out to junior twins Ali and Meredith Doswell during the recruiting process, no telling what he would be doing this weekend.

 

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Score! Scoring 60 points still seems surreal to Gophers guard Rachel Banham (Speaking of surreal: Kobe Bryant congratulates UMN’s Rachel Banham for her 60-point game). Yah, it took double OT, but wowza. The Star Tribune says: Appreciate the Gophers’ Rachel Banham while you still can

Said Stollings:

“I think one of the big things is we only have three home games left, and we have one of the most special players to ever wear a Minnesota uniform in Rachel Banham. I think people shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see her in one of these final three home games. She’s a rarity. Players like her don’t come around that often.”

Yes, I mentioned Charlotte Smith’s Elon, and they won, so that means they escaped the WHB jinx…. but what’s with 66 total points in a double-OT game? Oh. I see – a Top 10 on Sports Center

A strong final quarter helped Notre Dame escape Louisville, 66-61.

Three freshmen and a pair of sophomores had the floor Sunday when, near the end of the first half, 13,847 at the KFC Yum! Center rose to their collective feet.

Louisville’s women’s basketball team upped its lead to nine points on No. 3 Notre Dame, the surest sign yet during a lengthy winning streak the Cardinals are a budding national power.

Talented yet inexperienced, however, youth showed itself down the stretch of a 66-61 Irish win.

Well, the MVC is going to be tight. Drake knocks off Missouri State to squeak into the top spot. Don’t look now, but Loyola (CHI) is still a contender.

A feeble final quarter doomed Tennessee against TAMU. It allowed the Aggies to get to overtime and grab a win, 76-71. More importantly: Jordan Jones released from hospital, X-Rays and CT scan results normal

The Crimson tied it up against the Tigers and sent their game to OT… but couldn’t topple Princeton, 92-83.

DUCK(s) upset the Huskies courtesy of a 35-point fourth quarter (seems to be going around).

Ouch (if you’re USC): A three-point play with 1.9 seconds left gave #8 Arizona State a win over USC, 69-68.

St. John’s won the Tri-State Battle over Seton Hall, 72-64.

George Washington is still missing Jonquel Jones (5th game)… but they’re back to their winning ways.

Defense was optional in the Maryland v. Ohio State, which made it wicked fun. The Buckeyes scored more, so they’re now atop the Big Ten.

Ohio State fans looking for March basketball, you have a team.

It’s a confident, up-tempo team on the attack with a dynamic one-two scoring punch and multiple options on the inside and perimeter who can score when defenses focus on stars Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston. 

It’s a swarming defensive pressure team that can slap on a press and maintain it, forcing opponents to play their game at their speed (smaller and faster) even when that opponent is a top-10 mainstay and one of the best rebounding teams in the country.

It’s the best team in the Big Ten, no doubt.

Double boink: St. Francis (PA) makes sure Bryant loses two in a row, 85-72.

Make that TWO IN A ROW: Norfolk State over Maryland Eastern Shore, 74-63.

Wow: Howard (4-18, 2-7) stuns MEAC leading Hampton in OT, 83-77.

Interesting: Manhattan beat Marist (who was missing sixth-year senior Tori Jarosz), 64-59.

Surprise! 

Bobbie Kelsey created something of an Internet firestorm a couple weeks ago when she went on a little rant about her University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s need to get its collective butts in the gym to work on its shooting.

While that postgame monologue after a loss at Nebraska attracted widespread attention, it was a variation on a theme that has been consistent throughout Kelsey’s five years at UW.

And Monday night, it appeared to finally pay some dividends as the Badgers snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 64-57 Big Ten Conference victory over Purdue before a crowd of 3,149 at the Kohl Center.

So, yeah, there was this game in Columbia….

UConn coach Gene [Hello, autocorrect?] Auriemma smiled at his three senior starters, savoring the latest virtuoso performance on the big stage by Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson — and fretting about their departure next season.

“I carry five cellphones now with all the coaches who want to schedule us next year when these guys leave,” Auriemma said Monday night.

Count South Carolina coach Dawn Staley among them after Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson combined for 53 points in No. 1 UConn’s 66-54 blowout of the second-ranked Gamecocks.
Garnet and Black Attack: Gamecocks fall 66-54
Hartford Courant: UConn Women 66, South Carolina 54: Happy Geno Means Happy Huskies; Other Things Learned
New Haven Regiser: Big 3 lead No. 1 UConn past No. 2 South Carolina
New Britain Herald: UConn women’s basketball quiets South Carolina for easy win
Hartford Courant: Jeff Jacobs: Huskies’ Road Show Is A Beauty To Behold
Hartford Courant: UConn Women’s Notebook: Geno Has Great Admiration For Dawn Staley
UConn Daily Campus: Women’s Basketball: Huskies shine under bright South Carolina lights

Those who call it “boring” get schooled: Breanna Stewart’s shot at history

Yea! IU GLBT Alumni Association to host annual Pride Day in support of IU women’s basketball

Congrats! Hope women’s basketball gives coach Brian Morehouse 500th career win

Congrats! Tom Shirley wins 700th career game as women’s basketball defeats Dominican (N.Y.) 59-54

In W news:

Keep up with who’s going where and when…you can count down the W draft or get update on free agency at Today’s Fastbreak.

Congrats! Former Lee’s Summit star Danielle Adams chosen to NJCAA women’s basketball hall of fame

Say it ain’t so! Aussie star Taylor set for WNBA swansong

WATN? Simone Edwards: Simone4children Foundation Needs Base

“In Hermitage, I got a building put up there for the homework programme. It was running and everyone was working. It’s a place where we had our homework programme, fed families, gave back-to-school supplies, tried to create scholarships and focused on self-esteem building. But what we do is mostly focus on education, but now it (building) is damaged,” said Edwards.

“Last year, I went down there, and some of the bad men broke the lock off the door, stole furniture, the stove and damaged the windows. The homework programme is continuing in the church, but the last I heard is that the new pastor wanted it off the property,” she told The Gleaner.

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