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Congrats to St. Francis – Brooklyn, who defeated Robert Morris on their way to their first NEC title and their first trip to the Dance. They did it with three wins on the road and dead-eye shooting.

Sarah Benedetti led the Terriers with 29 points, including five 3-pointers. Jaymee Veney and Eilidh Simpson added 14 points each.

The fifth-seeded Terriers defeated No. 4 seed Sacred Heart then top-seeded Central Connecticut in double-overtime of the semifinal game before finishing off No. 3 seed Robert Morris.

“I’ve always loved the underdog story and I think this is the definition of a pure underdog,” Benedetti said. “It just feels awesome.”

Houston Baptist couldn’t pull off the next huge upset, so Northwestern State is in the Tournament again.

“I don’t know if we can put that into words,” Northwestern State co-coach Brooke Stoehr said of going to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years. “I know how I felt last year, and it was pure elation. I’m not stunned by what this group has done but just amazed. Their character and resiliency has been unbelievable.”

It took overtime, but Green Bay finally subdued the Wright State Raiders to make it to the NCAA – and get a smidge of revenge for last year’s loss to WSU.

A year after watching Wright State have the celebration honors on the same Kress Events Center court, UWGB gained sweet revenge in a thriller of a Horizon League tournament championship.

The top-seeded Phoenix overcame a 12-point deficit in the first half and secured a spot in the NCAA tournament by outlasting the Raiders 86-77 in overtime before a boisterous crowd of 2,214.

“It’s almost a relief, but I think our kids really wanted it badly,” said Borseth, his newly issued hat snug on his head.

Wichita State earned their third straight Missouri Valley conference title by defeating Missouri State 60-43.

Michaela Dapprich is at it again.

The Wichita State forward continued her usual late-season surge with 24 points as the Shockers beat Missouri State 85-71 on Sunday for their third straight Missouri Valley title and another trip to the NCAA tournament.

Alex Harden led top-seeded Wichita State (29-4) with 27 points. Jamillah Bonner added 18 points, Kelsey Jacobs had 10 to help the Shockers win their 12th straight game.

“I’ve just been feeling strong,” she said. “I’d like to say I wait until the end of every season to play my best, but it just happens that way. Everything falls into place toward the end.”

Florida Gulf Coast built a nice lead in the first half, then kept Northern Kentucky at bay on their way to the A-Sun Conference title.

“The most exciting part of coaching, for a coach, is to see their team celebrate,” Smesko said, after his Eagles (30-2) won their 25th consecutive game. “So when the buzzer sounds, and to see them all go to midcourt and have the type of enthusiasm for their accomplishment, that’s definitely the highlight of coaching.”

Every tape session at FGCU the past several weeks has star

A mid-game blackout couldn’t distract James Madison – and they needed their total focus to defeat the upset-minded Pride.

“The thing I’m most proud of is that we did it with a different cast of characters,” coach Kenny Brooks said. “It’s not like we had one superstar come through who just really sparked our program over a short period of time. We’ve had five different Players of the Year.”

The latest is Precious Hall, the 2015 CAA Player of the Year who entered the title game with a 20.9 scoring average and was coming off two straight 19-point performances.

In this one, the junior guard made one basket and scored nine points with six turnovers in 33 minutes.

“Precious will admit she didn’t play as well as usual, but the other kids stepped up,” Brooks said.

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in California: “Berkeley’s girls basketball coach Cheryl Draper took her team off the court with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in a game in a loss to Miramonte-Orinda, claiming she and her players heard racial slurs.”

And now we have this in Pennsylvania: Smear campaign against nation’s top girls basketball team – Philly’s Neumann-Goretti – traced to rival coach (nice job by write Joseph Santoliquito)

It attempted to discredit the NG program, alleging that the African players on the Saints, here legally, are older than their actual age and are in the United States illegally. Contents of the email were posted on comment forums of media websites (since removed) alleging institutional misconduct, and stating that the “FBI” is looking into the matter.

What PhillyVoice has uncovered is that the email Aston received was not just from anyone. It emanated from an email address that is registered to the name and home address of another Philadelphia Catholic League coach, Archbishop Wood girls basketball coach John Gallagher, who through an attorney neither confirms nor denies sending the email to Aston “and others.”

Additionally, Archbishop Wood has known about this — and has taken no action to date. 

And this from Maine: Witnesses: Calais girls basketball teammates exchanged obscenities, one pushed coach during game

An altercation between two Calais High School girls basketball players during a recent game is believed to have sparked a controversy that prompted the superintendent of schools to tender his resignation, after the school board reduced his disciplinary action against the players.

On the flip side: From the Deseret News: Copper Hills reaping the rewards of years of building program

“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” said Morley, who spent nine years coaching boys basketball, as well as football. “There was no tradition, no anything. They basically handed me a bunch of deflated balls and old uniforms and said, ‘Hey, turn the program around.’ I knew there would be work, but to be honest, I didn’t quite know how much.” Morley quickly diagnosed a number of issues. First, he was new to girls basketball so he wasn’t even sure if his experience would translate.

Yes, you can call Kansas State over #20 Texas an upset, but a bigger upset was Oakland (10-11, 4-4) over Green Bay (17-4, 7-1)), 70-67. And it was on the Phoenix’s home court.

By ending UWGB’s season-high winning streak of eight games, Oakland became the first team to knock off the Phoenix in Horizon play at the midway point of the league schedule. What’s more, the feisty Grizzlies handed UWGB (17-4 overall, 7-1 conference) its first home loss.

“I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t a little bit of a surprise,” said an elated Jeff Tungate, Oakland’s second-year coach. “But, we’ve had a really good week of practice, and our players have been really determined. I knew we were going to play well coming in. I just didn’t know, is ‘playing well’ going to be enough? Thankfully tonight, it was.”

You may recall that Tungate inherited a program that was a hot mess.

Another big upset: San Jose State (10-11, 4-6 MW) stunned Fresno State (17-4, 9-1), 56-51.

I’m have a funny feeling this group of Mountaineers maybe driving coach Carey bonkers. They take down TCU, 76-71.

Ouch. Albany took out its frustration on New Hampshire, 74-48.

It’s not quite Monday, but it’s never too early to start throwing down gauntlets: Editorial: Greatness awaits USC women’s basketball team

 AS WE WATCHED the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team evolve under the leadership of coach Dawn Staley over the past few years, it was evident that it was on a trajectory toward elite status.

We believe it has crossed that threshold this season, having spent 11 straight weeks at the top of the national rankings. A showdown with No. 2 Connecticut on the road presents a grand opportunity for the Gamecocks to step into rarified air and send a message that not only can it run with the big programs, it can defeat them.

Last season, Kansas State enticed fans to attend a women’s basketball game by offering free bacon.

This season, Georgetown is one-upping those Wildcats with something even better: free kale.

Congrats: Brittany Boyd breaks Cal women’s basketball all-time assist record

Congrats, (but I think the Harvard English professors might want to chat with the headline writer): Fagbenle Reaches Century Mark in Women’s Basketball’s Loss to Penn

Though the Harvard women’s basketball team may have been on the losing end of a back and forth contest against Penn (11-6, 2-1 Ivy) Saturday evening at Lavietes Pavilion, the game was one for the record books.

As the first half came to a close, senior forward Temi Fagbenle sunk a free throw to become the 19th player in Crimson history to score 1,000 points. Fagbenle was Harvard’s leading scorer in the game, earning 19 points to bring her career total to 1,010.

Intersting: Pepperdine Students to Protest Alleged Discrimination Against Lesbian Basketball Players – The women claim their coach told them, ‘Lesbianism isn’t tolerated here.’ 

Some great stuff by Sue on Diana’s decision to sit out the WNBA season:

A Washington Post columnist says Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out this year’s WNBA season for $1.5 million to play for her Russian team next winter is “a sobering message for the WNBA.”

Nope. It’s business as usual.

It’s a sad situation for Taurasi, the WNBA’s highest-paid player at just less than $107,000 a year, and a problem for the WNBA.

No, this is a sad situation, as is any player who is so worn down after year-round playing that they look tired in WNBA press conferences. And there are lots of those. Taurasi is taking advantage of her skills and her popularity and accepting a great offer that will take care of her financially when she’s older. She’s doing it on her terms, her way. As my source who first told me this news Friday night said, taking the money was “a no-brainer” for Taurasi.

It’s curious that Russian teams will pay big bucks to American players, but U.S. teams will not.

Again, no. I wrote about the differences between U.S. and European/Asian salaries in 2012:

Women’s professional basketball in Europe and Asia is directly effected by the worldwide recession because teams there are sponsored by businesses and governments. When faced with keeping their enterprises alive, companies cut the extras, like their team sponsorships. Ditto, governments. And as up to 100 percent of a team’s budget can come from sponsors, some franchises are forced to fold……

Nice piece on the NCAA’s Champion Magazine on FGCU’s Kaneisha Atwater:

Ninety-eight percent of teen moms do not graduate college before they turn 30. Kaneisha, though, is on the cusp of being counted among the other 2 percent. She is on pace to receive a degree in criminal justice from Florida Gulf Coast University in May 2016, thanks to a basketball scholarship.

For decades, a birth often marked the death of a college career. News reports told stories of scholarships that weren’t renewed, of free paths to a degree blockaded, of pregnant athletes whose fear of losing their place on a team steered them to abortions. Those accounts spurred culture change: In 2008, Division I adopted legislation preventing athletes from losing their scholarships for medical reasons the year they became pregnant. Seven years later, schools like Florida Gulf Coast are willing to make accommodations so athletes like Kaneisha can juggle diapers and textbooks and basketballs.

Having a flashback to Yolanda Griffith’s experience at Palm Beach Community College under coach Sally Smith.

The door she opened led her to one of the top programs and coaches in the country, Iowa and C. Vivian Stringer. But, not long after enrolling, Griffith discovered she was pregnant. With the father uninterested in raising a child, she left school and returned to Chicago where her family banded around her. The birth of her daughter, Candace, in May of 1989 found Griffith unsure what the future held for her. Realizing she wanted to continue to play basketball, a game plan was laid out: go to a Junior College, graduate, then finish out her career at a four-year college. The first thought was to stay local, but a good friend knew the head coach at Palm Beach Community College, Sally Smith. Interestingly enough, Smith, who had been the first black All-American on the legendary Nashville Business College team, herself had had a daughter when she was 18. “He said,” recalled Griffith, “’This is the best place for you as far as the facilities, getting education, and helping single parents.’”

Wait, isn’t this a recruiting violation for UConn-Notre Dame-Louisville? Mo’ne Davis, Charles, Diggins, Schimmel to Play in Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

 

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Congrats to coach Jim Foster, who’s coached his fourth team into the top 25.

#22 Georgia suffered two losses against #5 Tennessee –  first  leading scorer Shacobia Barbee, then the game.

Tennessee went more than eight minutes without scoring to start the second half Sunday afternoon.

The Lady Vols shot poorly from the floor (34 percent) and committed 18 turnovers.

But they did make free 20 of 21 free throws. Their uncanny performance from the foul line saved a 59-51 SEC women’s basketball victory before a crowd of 13,428 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

#17 Florida State dispatched Wake Forest, 110-80.

Sue Semrau almost always has a good basketball team. That’s nothing new.

But what the Florida State head coach has this year is something entirely different. What she has this year is a team that is quite capable of winning the ACC. What she has this year is a team that is capable of reaching the Final Four.

Simply put: What she has this year is the most talented team in school history.

Again, bad Big Ten Mojo for Northwestern, as they fall to Penn State, 76-75.

The Sycamores have lost their groove in the MVC, falling to Northern Iowa, 57-56. That puts the Panthers at 6-1 in their conference – but they host conference leader Wichita State next.

So, it’s looking like #7 Maryland may toddle through the Big 10 unscathed. Rutgers, #15 Nebraska and  Iowa look to pose the biggest threat.

Along with Jones, sophomore Lexie Brown added 21 points and fellow sophomore Shatori Walker-Kimbrough finished with 18 points. The seventh-ranked Terrapins 11-game winning streak began after losing at then second ranked Notre Dame on Dec. 3.”We thrive off energy, feeding off of each other and celebrating each other,” Brown said. “That’s when we’re at our best, when our bench is energized and coach B is energized and everyone is pumped up. Obviously today we didn’t show (energy). It definitely wasn’t the best that we’ve played, but top to bottom we had a lot of great moments throughout the team.”

OT in D.C. produced a Debbie Antonelli Special: Seton Hall over Georgetown, 99-85.

No OT needed for this DAS: North Dakota over Eastern Washington, 96-82.

Double-OT gives us a third DAS: Eastern Kentucky over Tennessee Tech, 97-93. EKU features sophomore guard Michaela Hunter,  named the National Mid-Major Women’s Basketball Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.

Don’t blame me, blame Mike Guardabascio (twice: You Should Be Watching Long Beach State Women’s BasketballLong Beach falls to CS Northridge, 67-52.

The CSUN Matadors defeated the current first place Big West team, California State University, Long Beach, 67-52 Saturday night, delivering the first conference defeat to the 49ers this season.

The Matadors battled Long Beach for the lead throughout the two halfs before getting a sufficient lead cushion late in the game and sending the 49ers home with their first loss in two months.

Interesting sequence of games coming up for Maine in the America East: they’ll face the Wildcats (6-1/conf w/ 3-time Rookie of the Week Carlie Pogue) and the Great Danes (7-0/conf. and a rematch of the Bears’ conference opener loss).

George Washington is still rolling through the A-10 (We see you, Jonquel). I’m sure they’re eyeing the Dayton game (Feb. 8th) and the Fordham game (Feb. 22nd).

But, hold on… the Rams lost to the Billikens? Huge win for St. Louis, coming back from 10 down in the first. And congrats to freshman guard Jackie Kemph, who was named the Atlantic 10 Conference women’s basketball Rookie of the Week

Akron escapes the fire of the Chippewas, 74-72, and now leaps into the pan of Ohio.

A poor second half did in Missouri against #14 Kentucky, 83-69.

Iowa State’s Nikki Moody seems to enjoy slaying Texas, bad ankle or no. The Longhorns Texas lost for the fourth time in five games as Lang couldn’t replace all that the Texans have lost with leading scorer and rebounder Nneka Enemkpali going down to the dreaded ACL.

It took overtime, but #15 Duke upset #12 North Carolina behind Williams’ 33. Is it just me, or did anyone else more from Williams day in and day out?

Not so fast there, you – Army gave American U their first Patriot League loss, 68-60, behind League Player of the Week Kelsey Minato. (Wow. In her freshman year, the Californian was the first in Patriot League history to be voted Player and Rookie of the Year.) Rematch on Feb. 21st.

They may not have impressive out-of-conference records, but once they get into SWAC play, it’s all about Texas Southern and Southern.

Don’t want to put the hex on’em, but New Mexico State is now 5-0 in the WAC.

So the dumping of Beth Burns… how’s that workin’ for ya, San Diego State?

Minnesota didn’t get the win against Rutgers, but 36 points from Amanda Zahui B. gets people’s attention.

Zahui B. grew up playing soccer and tennis, singing in the choir and taking theater lessons. She even learned what her mother called “circus acts,’’ such as juggling. “It was nothing for her to pick up something new, and be good at it,’’ her mother said.

She was taller than most of the boys in her class. She began playing basketball when she was 10. By 13, Sweden had added her to its 16-and-under national team and her father was bringing a drum to her games, becoming a one-man pep band.

“I remember when I was younger, people would say, ‘Wow, you are taller than all of the boys,’ ’’ Zahui B. said. “But I’ve never been insecure about my height. My parents always taught me to walk with my back straight.

“When it came to basketball, pretty much my parents begged me to play. They said, ‘We know this coach, go to practice,’ and I stuck. Every practice, I had two or three coaches working with me. It took me two or three weeks to figure out you could only take two steps on a layup.’’

Yes, Green Bay, the Horizon seems to be yours for the taking.

In the “marquee” matchup of ranked teams, the Beavers’ size and on-court execution made the difference:

No. 9 Oregon State proved that they are the team to beat in the Pac-12, defeating the No 13 ASU women’s basketball team 68-57.

“For some reason we were really struggling to play together today on offense,” ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “We were just… not outwardly focused.”

OSU’s long defenders forced ASU to change its offensive flow.

Snap! goes the Toppers 14-game win streak. It was a heartbreaker, with free throws and a waved off basket, as UTSA comes back to take down #24 Western Kentucky, 64-63. It was the program’s first win in history over a ranked opponent.

Who stole the wheels off Oklahoma State’s wagon? TCU carried off their carburetor, 71-62.

That’s 11-straight for Fresno State.

Practices have gotten a little shorter for the Fresno State women’s basketball team.

That doesn’t mean they’ve gotten easier. If anything, practices have gotten more intense for the winners of 10 in a row and off to a perfect start in Mountain West play.

“We’ve got to replicate the game and replicate the scout and make sure that we are going against it at an even higher level than we’ll see in the game,” coach Jaime White said.

In a battle for second place in the WCC, it was BYU over San Diego, 54-50.

“I am really happy we got the win tonight,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “This game reminded me so much of Saint Mary’s where we had a good lead the first half and played really well defensively but came out a little flat and stood around. I think Xojian’s [Harry] 3-pointer that she hit was a big basket for us to kind of take the lid off the basket and loosen us up.”

Countdown watch: In NAIA D1 news, Vanguard’s Russ Davis is 9 wins away from 500.

With another runaway win against Cincinnati, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis moved into 10th all time in Connecticut scoring. UConn’s Geno Auriemma is on his way to 900 wins.

Bracketology, anyone? Charlie says No. 4 seeds are toughest to identify – One seed line means more in 2015 as tourney shifts back to top 16 teams hosting

As discussed in this space a week ago, the No. 1 seeds in women’s college basketball remain unclear after South Carolina and Connecticut. Notre Dame seems to be gaining a stronger hold, but Baylor replaced Tennessee on the top line in the past seven days.

Despite the change, the same teams remain in the conversation for a top seed: Baylor, Tennessee, Maryland and Oregon State (thanks to its huge win at Arizona State this weekend).

In fact, choosing the top three seeds in each region this week was relatively easy. Though their order was tough to distinguish, teams 1-12 were fairly evident.

However, the picture got a whole lot murkier after that.

In W news, John Klein asks: If wins start coming for Shock, will fans follow?

Entertaining is great. Certainly, the Shock has done everything it can to promote its players and the WNBA in Tulsa. Diggins and Sims are among the best female basketball players on the planet.

Still, to really gauge the impact of the WNBA in Tulsa it will take more than scoring a lot of points (the Shock was second in the league last year).

What the Shock needs most to give Tulsa a chance to really appreciate women’s basketball is victories.

You know, you gotta love when the classics are quoted as part of girls basketball coverage. From Cory Olsen at MiLive:

When victorian-era poet Lord Alfred Tennyson said “Trust me not at all, or all in all,” it’s doubtful he had girls basketball in mind — the game was invented just one year before he died in 1891.

Yet that principle of trust is being instilled into the Wayland girls basketball team by head coach Marty Howard and judging by their double-overtime win over visiting Catholic Central Friday night, they’re taking to it very well.

On the flip side, this sounds unpleasant. From San Francisco: Controversy mars girls tournament

A great day of basketball at the Corner Bakery Showdown in Lafayette took a turn when Berkeley’s girls basketball coach Cheryl Draper took her team off the court with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in a game in a loss to Miramonte-Orinda, claiming she and her players heard racial slurs. 

Miramonte led 68-50 at the time, and a second technical foul in a span of a minute — three in all were called against Berkeley — was called against Berkeley point guard Jaimoni Welch-Coleman (20 points) when Draper called timeout and had her players leave the court.

Finally: Just awful news from Michigan: 2 EMU students, including women’s basketball player, killed in overnight Ypsilanti Township crash

Eastern Michigan University has identified two students as the individuals killed in a head-on crash overnight in Ypsilanti Township

Shannise Heady, 21, from Hazel Crest, Ill., and Jordan Hopkins, 23, of Dexter were killed in a crash shortly before 1 a.m. Jan. 25 on Hewitt Road near Midvale, the university said in a press release.

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First Green Bay goes into West Lafayette and takes advantage of a missed free throw in the first overtime to push the game to a second overtime and the upset win over #24 Purdue.

Then, after an interesting first half that saw the #10 Texans stake themselves to a 6-pt lead over the Cardinal at Maples, it looks like Stanford was going to eek out a win. But NO! It goes to overtime! And this time — for the first time in thirty-three years — the Longhorns take down the temporarily #1 Tree. (That’s also Texas’ first takedown of a ranked team in 6 years.) What are pollsters going to do with their votes next week? It’s  so much easier when there  are no upsets in women’s basketball….

So, what is up with the California State schools? Northridge takes down BYU, 63-54. (Could be a tough year for the Cougars) and UC Riverside rolls over San Jose State, 100-80.

Keepin’ the ranked teams honest — #11 North Carolina edged #21 Oklahoma State by 2, 79-77.

The Hatters are off to a 2-0 start, with Marist in their future and Baylor looming. They don’t play conference rival FGCU until January 10th. The Eagles fell to Auburn, 72-69, in spite of Haas’ 30.

Debbie’s game of the night: George Mason over Delaware State, 110-91.

Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner was still mighty efficient (5-10 in 23 minutes), but she has to be careful of fouls. Lucky for the Irish, Jewell Loyd knows nows how to fill up a stat sheet (and shoot free throws). #3 Notre Dame over #15 Michigan State, 71-63.

Susie’s Panthers righted the ship with a school record 13 3-pointers against Michigan, but JMU’s up next.

That being said, JMU had a tough time against American, escaping with a 69-65 win.

A strong second half helped propel #24 Georgia over Ohio State, 67-59.

After scoring 50 points in the first, #8 Maryland eased up in the second, ’cause it could have been wicked ugly final score. Instead it’s just Terps 85, South Florida 67.

Even at home, Princeton continues to pound Pennsylvania.

Well, yes, LSU, it’s going to be that kind of season. The Tigers get rolled by the Green Wave.

After wins over Dayton and Idaho State, Washington State got handled (in the second half) by #16 Nebraska, 82-61.

Well, hello there, Mississippi State, you’re going to the preseason WNIT finals! They take down #17 West Virginia, 74-61 in a game full of ugly shooting. The Bulldogs will face off against the Hilltoppers because, after jumping to the #3 spot in the College Insider mid-major poll, Albany encountered the “Red Wave” of Western Kentucky… and fell,

#2 South Carolina got to iron out some of the kinks out while stomping all over Clemson, 99-41.

Speaking of stomping, there go the Cardinals.

That was Ka’lia Johnson tallying the seventh triple-double in Duke history as the # Blue Devils overcame Old Dominion, 82-66.

Can I ask “what’s happened to Florida” or is that too dismissive of the Red Storm?

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If they want a chance to go dancing, they have to win:

CAA: No surprise James Madison is in the Finals, but their opponent is (somewhat surprising): the Blue Hens.

Discussing UD’s youth, Martin said, “This team has come so far this season. We’re so young and I’m so proud of these kids as they’ve grown so much in the past few months. Nobody thought Delaware would be sitting in this position right now. We’ve climbed the mountain all year long of people not believing in us and now we have a job to finish.”

Southland: Northwestern State (Lady) Demons v. the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks. (Sounds like a CW show) The teams split the regular season, each winning at home by double digits.

Horizon: #1 Green Bay will face off against #2 Wright State.

NEC: Upstart Robert Morris and their star from Greece, Artemis Spanou, will try and overcome St. Francis (PA), who’ve had a less than .500 season, but made the finals after an epic triple-overtime win over Sacred Heart and a tight win over Mount St. Mary’s. Thank goodness there are a couple of days between games.

MVC: The Shockers have righted their ship —  if they sail by 5th seed Drake their season will continue. But don’t take the Bulldogs lightly – they rallied to take down top-seed Indiana State.

A-SUN: This seems to be the game of the day. 26-6, 16-2) Stetson faces off against (25-7, 17-1) FGCU.  Will the Eagles fans show?

As for those Dancers:

Ball State couldn’t sustain the magic, nor stop 5th years senior Rachel Tecca (30-12). So, after 40 years, it’s the Zips who earns their first MAC trip to the NCAAs.

“This group of seniors is very, very special,” said Kest, in her eighth season at the school. “They believed in us when we recruited them. It’s not easy to come into a program that has had some losing seasons and to take a chance on us. It’s easy to go to a school that already has been successful and already has fans.”

The Zips tied the program record for single-season victories, which was set in 2012-2013.

Prairie View A&M DID sustain the magic, upsetting SWAC #2 seed, Texas Southern, earning their fourth consecutive championship title and sending a 14-17 team onto the dance floor. 

Washington added 20 points in the winning effort, which capped a season-long turnaround after the Lady Panthers lost their first 11 games under first-year coach Dawn Brown.

“I just let them know that you can’t let Texas Southern take this moment from you,” Brown said she told her team. “Since 2011, this is what Prairie View A&M University does. You see our best basketball in March.”

The third time was almost the charm for Coppin State, but Hampton prevailed in the MEAC championship game — by three points.

“When I woke up this morning,” Hamilton said, “I said to myself, I had to be a point guard today. We needed everybody in order to win. I actually wanted to play a part in the championship.”

Hamilton’s fingerprints were all over the title game, with a game-high 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a couple of blocks.

“She was overdue,” HU coach David Six said. “Nikki’s a big-time player — first-team all-conference. She’s been in these situations before. I’m glad she’s on my team and she was able to make some clutch shots for us.”

Sun Belt: A lot has happened to the Hilltopper program since they sent Shea Mahoney to the New York Liberty – and some of it not good. Different story yesterday as Western Kentucky came back from 14 down against Arkansas State to earn a berth to the NCAA tournament. And the video of the coaches celebrating is worth a thousand words.

Middle Tennessee State left no doubt as to who rules the C-USA, rolling over Southern Mississippi. 84-55.

“I feel like Middle Tennessee is one of the top 20 programs in the country,” Blue Raiders coach Rick Insell said. “We’re not the best program in the country, but we’re in the top 20, and we’re there every year.

“We’re real proud of what our program stands for. The basketball gurus know about Middle Tennessee, and they know that Middle Tennessee is a tough, tough team.”

Patriot: Army entered the NCAA tournament on the shoulders of Kelsey Minato, who scored 31 points to lead the Black Knights over a resilient Holy Cross, 68-58.

 “We had the great equalizer,” Magarity said of his sophomore guard. “She’s an incredible player and as special a player as I’ve ever coached in my 32 years as a head coach.

Mountain West: Fresno State knocked off top seed Colorado State, 77-68, and earned its fourth consecutive conference championship.

“I think (tournament experience) does help a lot, especially when teams go on runs,” Farley said. “If you’re not experienced, you can get really frazzled in that type of situation. Us being more experienced, we learned to accept the runs and not freak out, if that makes sense. It definitely did help us today.”

Big West: It’s been 23 years, and this is only the second time the Cal State Northridge team has gone dancing, this time by virtue of their 15-point win over Cal Poly.

“Every day is a championship day for us,” Matadors coach Jason Flowers said. “The intensity never drops off, whether it’s a shootaround or weights or conditioning. These young women have prepared for this moment for the past two or three years. I was interested to see how they would respond to being on the big stage. They woke up this morning in great spirits, they were really relaxed and I just stayed out of their way and they worked their tails off.”

North Dakota left no doubt as to who was going to earn the Big Sky bid to the NCAA, handily beating Robin Selvig’s Montana, 72-55.

The win was historic for UND (22-9). The Green and White will play in the Big Dance for the first time in program history.

“Credit Montana, a very well-coached team that battled,” North Dakota coach Travis Brewster said. “But it’s an exciting experience for these players to get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament and to do it in front of our fans was awesome. It’s a pretty unique honor and takes a special group.”

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basketball world is still working hard for their Dancin’ Shoes.

Considering the start of their respective seasons, I would have thought Green Bay would be the one sitting home and Bowling Green would be packing for the tournament. Instead, Ball State stunned the #25 Phoenix with a stomping’ – 73-55. They’ll go up against Akron (another “surprise” winner, this time over Central Michigan, who’d lost POY-DPOY Bradford to a knee injury) for the MAC championship.

Horizon: Green Bay took care of UIC , and so they’ll host the Wright State Raiders, who clubbed the Penguins, 98-70, to decide who gets their ticket punched.

Hampton is rollin’ in the MEAC but they won’t be challenged by North Carolina A&T, because they fell to Coppin State, 57-55.

C-USA comes to Southern Miss v. MTSU. Getting there was harder than one might think for the #1  in conference, who faced upstart Florida International. But the Blue Raiders prevailed, 64-57. Southern Miss rode the hot hand of senior point guard Jamierra Faulkner (C-USA’s all-time leader in assists) to take down U-TEP, 84-70.

In the SWAC, Texas Southern (20-11, 15-3) needed OT (of course) to escape Jackson State (15-15, 12-6), 79-77. They won’t have to go up against their regular season challenger, Southern (20-8, 16-2), ’cause they were wiped out by upstart Prairie View A&M (13-17, 11-7), 72-43.

It took TRIPLE overtime, but Colorado State continued its fabulous Mountain West season by defeating Wyoming, 95-92. They’ll face traditional MW powerhouse Fresno State in the finals.

WAC: Still a chance for a Vandal (or two) in the Tourney for the second year in a row. Idaho, who’s 15-1 in the conference, came back from 6 down at the half over New Mexico State. In the final, they’ll face Seattle U., which has had a balanced season (16-15) which usually doesn’t mean Dancin’ would be an option. BUT, they defeated CSU Bakersfield, 84-79.

Big West: Cal Poly v. CS Northridge.

Sometimes the team that is supposed to win can still be the underdog. Sometimes Goliath is the better story.

It won’t qualify as a surprise if Cal State Northridge earns a place in the NCAA tournament bracket. The Matadors won the regular-season championship in the Big West, their first, and are the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament that concludes this weekend in Anaheim. They enter Friday’s semifinal against the lowest remaining seed (ESPN3, 3 p.m. ET) with Big West Player of the Year Ashlee Guay on their side, as well as the conference’s top defender, Camille Mahlknecht, and two more all-conference selections, Janae Sharpe and Cinnamon Lister.

They aren’t overwhelming favorites, not after edging a crowded field by a game in the regular season, but they are first in line to earn the one and only NCAA bid the league will get.

Patriot: Holy Cross v. Army.

Say what you want about history repeating itself but Saturday’s Patriot League championship matchup between Army and Holy Cross is about 2014 and not about the epic 2006 matchup that made late coach Maggie Dixon famous.

Dave Magarity was Army’s associate head coach that season. Magarity and the current Army team watched video of the 2006 title game this week in an idea that was part motivation, part history lesson. Members of that championship team have sent messages of support to the current players, and some will be on hand for the 6 p.m. contest.

Big Sky: Could there be a team from North Dakota in the Tournament? UND will go for their first shot at a D-I spot (UND appeared in 19 NCAA Division II national tournaments.). In their way: Montana, who came back from 13 down to defeat Southern Utah, 73-69. Last match-up tween these two teams, went Montana’s way, 52-49.

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…that was the theme for most top seeds. But it was a little more interesting for some than others.

UNC had to fight like heck to defeat the under-appreciated Great Danes of Albany.

Dayton, too, had to fight — through St. John’s and two overtimes.

#6 LSU escaped a stubborn #11 Green Bay, 75-71.

#8 Michigan moved on after a nice battle with #9 Villanova, 60-52.

#9 Iowa took advantage of the home court and sent #8 Miami packing, 69-53.

Florida State took a nice lead over Princeton and maintained it to a 60-44 win.

The #6 Blue Hens gave the #11 Mountaineers a first half head start, and then Delle Donne carried Delaware to victory.

#2 Kentucky and #15 Navy were all but tied at the half, then the Wildcats got in gear to secure the victory.

#1 Stanford and #16 Tulsa were exactly tied at the half. Cardinal woke up, though, in the second half (and still, Tulsa did not fold), and moved on into the next round.

#5 Louisville followed Schimmel’s points and Smith’s assists to victory over #12 Middle Tennessee State, 74-49.

#7 Oklahoma State didn’t have much trouble against #10 DePaul: Cowgirls (and Young) move on, 73-56.

#4 Purdue handled #13 Liberty, 77-43.

The ESPN/AP headline says “Duke pulls away in the second half to beat Hampton,” ’cause the #15 Pirates pulled within 6 in the second half. Yes, the #2 Blue Devils won, but maybe Hampton did deserve a higher seed.

#3 Penn State made Cal Poly’s first trip to the NCAA an unpleasant one: 85-55.

#Baylor dismissed Prairie View A&M, 82-40.

#1 Notre Dame did the same to UT-Martin, 97-64.

Some quick “Up Next” from Mechelle: Just like old times for A&M, Nebraska

 Nebraska coach Connie Yori smiled and noted that she has “some great Gary Blair stories.” Well, who doesn’t, right?

As for Blair, women’s basketball’s Mr. Congeniality, he reminded reporters that he’s old enough to remember when Yori was playing at Creighton. Scrappy devil of a player, she was.

The coaching colleagues will commence pleasantries before Monday’s NCAA second-round game here at Texas A&M. And then, it will be a battle to see who heads to Norfolk, Va., for the Sweet 16.

“It’s like a Big 12 reunion, really,” Yori said after her No. 6 seed Cornhuskers beat Chattanooga 73-59 to set up their meeting with No. 3 seed Texas A&M. “That seems like it’s fitting. Gary Blair, he’s one of the great coaches and great characters in our game. It will be interesting to go head-to-head.”

Speaking of Nebraska: I saw pintails, common mergansers and harris sparrows today. And it is cooooold!

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all that’s left is to prepare for the second guessing of the committee. Until then, argue with Charlie.

Amongst those who are in, but awaiting word on where they are going:

Four, count’em FOUR overtimes. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  In the end, Prairie View A&M had the legs and the points to secure the victory over Mississippi Valley State. That’s the third SWAC title in a row for coach Wilson’s Panthers.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t even know how many overtimes we played,” Prairie View A&M coach Toyelle Wilson said. “I credit our girls; relentless. They said they could go five more (overtimes).”

Hampton did what it’s been doing all season. Rollin’ over opponents. That’s four straight conference tournament championships for the Pirates.

Cal Poly did what it’s never done: Punch their ticket to the Big Dance. And they did it in style, upsetting top-seed Pacific, 63-49.

Cal Poly overcame the loss of star forward Kayla Griffin on Saturday to upset top-seeded Pacific, 63-49, in the Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament final at Honda Center.

The win earned the second-seeded Mustangs their first trip to the NCAA tournament.

Griffin tore knee ligaments early in the second half, but Cal Poly was able to maintain the 11-point lead it built in the first half. Griffin had four points in her 24 minutes.

“We wouldn’t be in this position without Kayla, there’s no question,” Cal Poly Coach Faith Mimnaugh said. “I hated that she couldn’t be on the court at the end of the game.”

That’s the way to make an impression: Change coaches, join the Southland, win the Conference Championship. Sam Houston couldn’t make up the five point first half difference, and so Oral Roberts has a ticket to ride. Obviously, the Bearkats are disappointed, but consider this: the program hasn’t  had a winning season since 1996 before going 17-14 last year.

Central Michigan proved that finishing strong in the regular season can pay dividends in the conference tournament. They carried their momentum through the tournament and earned their first trip to the Dance since 1984. (Lordy, I was a year out of college and “When Doves Cry” was the #1 song). You’ll recall the heartbreak last year.

“I wanted to put 1.5 seconds on T-shirts,” coach Sue Guevara said. “This was the goal. To get to this tournament and win because it was such a heartbreaking loss last year.”

I’ve got to believe that for Guevara, it was both heartbreaking and galling, considered the post-tourney revelations.

Speaking of 1984, 1985 was the last time Idaho went to the tourney. (I know you’re wondering: Wham, “Careless Whisper.”) They’re going back by virtue of their win over Seattle U.

“Survive and advance has certainly been our motto in this tournament and we did it all the way till the end, and it’s a great feeling,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “I’m so happy for my players and I’m so happy for my staff. I feel that I have the greatest staff in America and our players have just worked their tails off to get to this moment and it’s fantastic, it’s a great feeling.”

Montana grabbed a lead over Northern Colorado, and the Bears couldn’t recover. Grizz go Danzin. From Bill Speltz:

After 35 years of coaching the same team, you figure a guy is bound to develop some hard bark on his personality.

Not Montana women’s basketball skipper Robin Selvig. His heart was so filled with happiness Saturday he couldn’t help shedding a few tears after the Lady Griz beat Northern Colorado 56-43 for the Big Sky Conference tournament championship.

His emotional postgame news conference prompted the senior sitting to his left, UM standout forward Katie Baker, to get a little misty herself. Then the Lady Griz beat writer in the front row, who thinks the world of Selvig and doesn’t care who knows it, started getting a little teary-eyed.

Navy left no doubt about who rules the Patriot League: 72-53 winners over Holy Cross, the senior-free Midshipmen have won three consecutive conference championships. How long will Pemper stay in Annapolis?

I’ve been told I need to look at the end of this game to check out a game-changing technical. That aside, sounds like it was a rockin’ environment in upstate New York as Hartford refused to roll over for the Great Danes. A back-and-forth game, it was tied at 52, and then Albany reeled off 9-straight points to secure the win and an NCAA berth.

UCF’s magical run in the C-USA conference tournament ended at the hands of Tulsa, who was making a nice run of their own. 

Tulsa coach Matilda Mossman sounded as stunned as anyone when she let the realization dawn that a season that began 0-5 was going to culminate with the school’s second berth in the NCAA tournament.

“I’m just so excited, a chill went through my body when I said we’re going to the tournament,” said the second-year coach after Tulsa defeated Central Florida 75-66 in the championship game of the Conference USA tournament Saturday. “We’ve been talking about it, but now it’s real.”

Writes Joel Klein at the Tulsa World:

Tulsa’s Taleya Mayberry, one of the best players in school history, took over the tournament and is taking the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA Tournament.

“She was great for us and she had to be for us to win,” said Mossman.

Mayberry, fantastic for four days, was at her best in a 75-66 victory over UCF in the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Tournament final on Saturday night at the BOK Center.

Mayberry scored 25 points in the final and averaged 25 in the four games.

The Sooners tweet: OU Women’s Hoops ‏@Congrats to our friends @TUWBasketball on their C-USA title! For 1st time, all 4 D1 teams in Oklahoma playing in NCAA Tourney.

San Diego State was on a roll, but clearly Wiggins didn’t leave the Fresno State cupboard bare.

The Aztecs had their 17-game winning streak snapped as they fell behind by 22 points and couldn’t come all the way back in a 76-70 loss to Fresno State in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference tournament on Saturday.

“We picked a bad time to have a bad time,” San Diego State coach Beth Burns said. “I think Fresno State had an awful lot to do with that.

The result: Dawgs go Dawncin’.

Doug Feinberg didn’t get his wish granted by Quinnipiac (another game coming down to the final shot). Instead, the Bobcats blew away St. Francis (PA) to get their first invite to the NCAA Tournament.

‘‘We are kind of waking people up a little bit,’’ said forward Brittany McQuain, a junior from Independence, Mo., who acknowledges she had never heard of Quinnipiac before an assistant coach came to recruit her. ‘‘It’s good to be a part of this, and great that people are starting to recognize who we are.’’

The Blue Hens are doing their own version Chicken Dance, as Delaware escaped a stubborn Drexel, 59-56. Great for fans and the team that they’re hosting the first two rounds. Says Graham:

Elena Delle Donne scored the final points in her final Colonial Athletic Association game.

But the coach who ended up face down on the court doing water angels Sunday afternoon had a point of her own about Delaware.

Delaware is more than a one-woman team, as coach Tina Martin preached all weekend. It is more than the greatest player the program will ever have. And the one woman who proved it Sunday was Trumae Lucas, whose drive to the basket and two subsequent free throws in the final minute gave the Blue Hens their final lead in a 59-56 win against Drexel that nearly went the other way.

There really was no doubt, even with a stunningly ugly opening to the second half, Green Bay managed to rout Loyola (IL), 54-38 and earn their fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.

Kevin Borseth’s goal when he returned to coach UWGB this season was to not screw up the success he helped build before he left for Michigan and continued when Matt Bollant roamed the sideline here for five years.

He didn’t.

Their regular season game went to overtime. Their rematch in the A-10 finals came down to the last possession: Fordham with the ball, a chance to shoot for the win, but an offensive foul ended the game. St. Joseph’s goes to their first NCAA tournament in 12 years.

One the game: Four thousand plus came to the game — primarily Fordham fans. Had a lovely pre-game chat with the mom of their point guard and, as always, enjoyed WFUV’s play-by-play folks. College kids who are serious about the product, their professionalism… and the future of their team. “Coach is very excited by her incoming class.”

It was wonderful having some women’s hoops happening in NYC during conference tournament time. Very much enjoyed my Barclay experience. Staff was helpful, friendly and on point. Lighting focused ON the court, not the arena (like The Rock does in NJ). Seems to me, if the gentlemen continue to use the Garden for the NIT, there’s no reason Brooklyn shouldn’t look to host the women’s Final Four.

About that waiting game:

From the Naples News: ‘Deserving’ FGCU hoping against hope for NCAA at-large bid

It’s a strange feeling for Karl Smesko, being unable to control his team’s destiny.

Smesko has orchestrated the Florida Gulf Coast University women’s basketball team’s rapid rise in Division I the past six seasons. He’s turned the Eagles into a dominant lower-major program, yet he’s done all he can do for his team this season.

From Louisiana, Lady Tigers eye NCAA berth

Around the LSU women’s basketball program, it’s become known as the Tim Tebow speech.

Her team reeling after back-to-back losses in early February dropped the Lady Tigers to 13-10 and out of any reasonable hope of making the NCAA tournament, Jeanne Kenney gathered the Lady Tigers around her in the locker room after their heartbreaking 64-62 loss to Tennessee and told them they couldn’t let seniors Bianca Lutley and Adrienne Webb go out on such a low note.

From the Washington Post: Maryland, Navy women’s basketball await NCAA tournament seedings

Meanwhile, the Army women are turning their focus to the WNIT

From Jerry Brewer: Seattle U women fall short of NCAA bid, but hope to refuel for WNIT

Sylvia Shephard walked to the Seattle University bench and bent over as her tears began. Her coach, Joan Bonvicini, patted her on the back, whispered that she was proud of her and tried to minimize the pain.

There was no relief, however.

In college basketball, nothing hurts like March.

She knows she’s going, but Purdue’s Mingo knows how to pay it forward

School? Yikes, we still have school? Marist begins preparation for NCAA tournament

After a week of midterms, Emma O’Connor and Kristina Danella walked through the doors at McCann Arena Friday morning ready to get back to work.

“We were like, ‘We feel like we haven’t been here forever,’ ” said Danella, a fifth-year senior forward on the Marist College women’s basketball team.

From Brian Howard at the Daily Camera: CU Buffs’ Chucky Jeffery closing out storied career

Chucky Jeffery looks at the waiter.

“Can I have the …”

“Teriyaki chicken, no vegetables,” the waiter said, smiling as he finishes the sentence.

“Yes, absolutely!” Jeffery replied with a laugh.

She’s clearly been here before.

While Jeffery’s dinner choice may lack originality, very little else about Colorado’s senior point guard is that predictable.

This is, after all, a girl who grew up preferring to participate in football and karate to basketball and dance classes. She’s a student who admits, “I’m not big on school,” yet has the desire to pursue a graduate degree. And, she’s a player who was once a challenge to coach, but looks forward to coaching in the future.

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Not an easy year for Semeka Randall’s Ohio team: they’re 0-10 in the MAC.

On the flip side, it’s the Great Danes of Albany at 11-0 in the Am. East. BU is trying to keep pace (10-1). Of course, it’s more about pride than the conference tournament, since they won’t be invited. Why? They’re moving to the Patriot League next year.

Speaking of the Patriot League: The Leopards made it a game, but Navy prevailed in OT, 60-42. Coaching at any Service Academy ain’t easy, but coach Pemper has done a nice job since arriving in -08.

FGCU (12-0 A-Sun) is still soaring. This time, their victim was USC Upstate, 72-49. Interesting commentary by David Moulton: Time for the A-Sun to set in FGCU athletics history

Six years ago, the Atlantic Sun conference was FGCU‘s savior. They were there when no one wanted the university.

FGCU has done well by the A-Sun and vice versa.

For example, just this year FGCU had the best volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer teams in the conference with both soccer squads winning titles and earning NCAA berths. Both basketball teams are in first place with the women having not lost an A-Sun game in two years. The softball team is the defending conference champion and both the softball and baseball teams are pre-season favorites this year. Throw on top of that a Top 50 swimming/diving program and Florida Gulf Coast University is arguably the best athletic program in the A-Sun.

Which would be great if the Atlantic Sun conference wasn’t dying.

The Fightin’ Camels of Campbell (8-5) are trying to keep the Big South close by taking down conference top dog Winthrop (9-3), 84-69.

Cynthia’s Texas Southern is still winning. They now stand at 10-1 in the SWAC. Clearly, the runaway COY in the conference. They’ll face Southern, their best competition, on the 28th. The Jaguars (10-2) got surprised by Arkansas Little Rock (4-8), 59-50.

It was all Chambers for K-State (34,12,4), but she couldn’t overcome Iowa State’ Poppens and Christofferson.

That’s why sometimes a dunk is not just two points: it gets your teammates up and motivated: Baylor wipes the floor with Texas, 75-48. (Speaking of Baylor: Baylor women’s basketball transfer Destiny Brown enrolls at University of Delaware.)

Fresno State had a chance to claim the top spot in the Mountain West, but San Diego State  said, “No thank you, that spot is still ours.

Davidson (11-1) kept pace with Chattanooga (13-1) in the Southern by taking down Appalachian State, 56-49. The Mocs dismissed Elon, 63-40.

Again, it’s a long journey to recovery, but IUPUI is now 7-3 in the Summit. Of course, they have to face the Jackrabbits next, who may be looking for revenge. SDSU thumped Oakland, 83-48.

And again, I’m just sayin’: St. Francis (NY) wins again.

I’m sorry “I saw you,” Sam Houston: the Bearkats go down to their Southland conference challengers, 52-48.

It took OT, and 26pts from Smith, but St. John’s is still clinging to the NCAA tourney bubble — which is nice, since they’re a host.

Northern Colorado is on a roll, with back-to-back wins over the Montanas. They’re now a half game out of the top spot in the Big Sky.

Green Bay continues to be the class of the Horizon, dispatching Milwaukee, 64-49.

Couple of huge upsets: Bradley, (10-12, 4-7 in the MV) shocked Wichita State (16-7, 10-1). In fact, it wasn’t even close: the Braves by 20. #2 and #3 in the conference met, and the Redbirds of Illinois State took it to Creighton in the second half, capturing the 66-60 win.

Middle Tennessee (18-6, 13-2 Sun Belt) may have overlooked Troy (5-18, 2-12). IN Murfreesboro, the Trojans took the Blue Raiders to OT, and didn’t fade. MTSU goes down, 74-70.

It took 3OTs, but Arkansas finally got the win over Alabama, 91-80.

In the battle of the Tu’s, Tulsa used a strong second half to send the Green Wave to a loss.

The two top dogs met in the MAC (West & East), and Toledo topped Ball State, 68-64, but only after blowing a 20pt lead. The Cardinals will have a change for revenge on last day of conference play, March 6 @ Toledo.

Whyte did everything she could to keep Arizona in the game (26, 7, 8) but she couldn’t stop Cal from getting their 9th win in a row.

Charlotte gave St. Joe’s their first conference loss, and now there are four one-loss teams lurking behind Dayton. Actually, three, ’cause Dayton beat Fordham. But, unlike previous years, it wasn’t a cakewalk.

After the Lions roared away from Michigan State, the Big 10 is a bunch of teams looking up at Penn State – Purdue, Nebraska, Michigan and Illinois.

Fittingly, Delle Donne breaks Dawn Evans’ CAA scoring record against JMU. I’m sure she’s happier that Delaware got the win, 71-64. Oh, and the Hens’ pre-game trick shot was pretty cool, too.

In a battle of two teams who may have coaches feeling the heat, NC State raced away from Clemson, 79-45.

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’cause it’s fun, since we know how much Mechelle hates making predicitions.  In anticipation of the Kentucky/South Carolina and UNC/Maryland game, Mechelle Voepel said this:

jbb1985 (ny): Which of the two games tonight between ranked, Conference rivals are you the most interested in: MD vs. UNC or UK vs. S. Carolina?

Mechelle Voepel: Interested in both, but if I have to pick I’ll say Maryland vs North Carolina because it’s a rematch and may indicate how the Tar Heels will go through this tough four-game stretch vs. Terps, Miami, Florida State and Duke. Sylvia Hatchell is 3 wins from 900 in her career, and it could come as early as Jan. 31, I believe. But it could also be delayed awhile, as these are tough games. The interesting thing with Kentucky-South Carolina, of course, is which team sets the pace in that game, since they are so opposite.

MV got it right. Cats’ streak stopped by South Carolina, 55-50

Every shot, every cut, every pass.

Every minute of the game, South Carolina wanted to make Kentucky as uncomfortable as possible.

The No. 18 Gamecocks succeeded and upended the fifth-ranked Cats 55-50 Thursday night, ending UK’s 17-game win streak.

“They played much harder than we did,” Cats Coach Matthew Mitchell explained. “They played much more physical. Their desire was much stronger to win tonight. When that happens, then we get beat.”

Check out what else MV has to say, when she teams up with Michelle as they talk Mechelle & Michelle: Coast to Coast

On their podcast, Beth Mowins and Debbie Antonelli talk to a pair of head coaches, Baylor’s Kim Mulkey and UNC’s Sylvia Hatchell.

Out west, Oregon breaks into Pac-12 women’s basketball win column at the expense of the Washington State Cougars. 

The Buffaloes got so much deserved attention, and then got close to a huge win, but couldn’t put Cal away. Stanford handled the Utes.

Some good news for Ohio State, Stokes’ knee injury is healing quickly.

Nebraska welcomed Michigan State to the polls by beating them.

The Shockers continued their winning ways in the MVC, and now sit at 6-0 in the conference. The Blue Jays are keeping pace, now at 5-1.

In the Horizon League, Algoma’s Zastrow emerges for UWGB

Speaking of emerging stars, Graham offers up this: Rodriguez emerges as FSU star: Senior guard from Canary Islands has tripled her scoring average from a year ago

It might seem at first glance as if one of the season’s biggest surprises came out of nowhere to emerge as one of the best players in the ACC. But for someone who crossed an ocean just to get to Florida State four years ago, a senior season to remember turns out to be one more leg of a long journey.

Rodriguez comes from a place people dream of visiting for a few days’ respite from the real world. Where she grew up, others hope they might someday soak up the sun in retirement. So frankly, it’s a little surprising to sit across from her in a hotel lobby on a wet winter night near Boston and find that there is nowhere she would rather be than where she is, with three years worth of waiting and working behind her to prove her point.

Clearly, Graham has no jinx-ability, as Chelsea Davis helped No. 22 Florida State rally past Georgia Tech.

It’s around the corner: UConn v. Notre Dame. Jim Fuller writes: Huskies need their bench to be the best. Curt Rallo writes: Irish need to keep foot on the gas

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When looking at the 1/16s and 2/15s, it’s amazing to see how many regular season conference winners aren’t involved. Random first round games I’m looking forward to:

Georgetown v. Fresno State: Can’t wait to see the Bulldog on Bulldog battle. The Cali-dogs have been more consistent than the Eastcoast-dogs, and they’re seriously threatening from beyond the three-point line.

Nebraska v. Kansas: Nebraska’s been up and down. I’ll be intrigued to see which Husker team shows up a Kansas team that hasn’t been to the Tourney since 2000.

Delaware v. UALR: Who doesn’t want to watch a first round match-up that doesn’t feature a member of the “Big 6” conferences? CAA v. Sun Belt. Let’s go!

BYU-DePaul: Coach Bruno has done a great job cobbling together a team out of spare parts. BYU is trying help out its new conference.

Tennessee-Tennessee-Martin: Coach Summitt goes up against her high scoring alma mater.

Cal-Iowa: It’s an important game for a program that wants to show that Stanford ain’t it for the Pac-12.

St. Bonaventure-FGCU: Two “Cinderella” stories. Again, two non-6ers clashing. How will the Bonnies handle the Eagles’ flurry of threes?

Georgia-Marist – This isn’t coach Giorgis’ best team, but they’re also going up a rather confusing Georgia team. Interesting match-up.

Louisville-Michigan StateTwo teams with talent but confusing results. They’ve both fought hard to get to the Tournament.

West Virginia-Texas: Considering how much I picked on Texas, they’ll probably make a run at the Final Four.

South Carolina-Eastern Michigan: EMU’s point guard Tavelyn James played for USA Basketball, the first MAC player to be selected.  How will legendary USA point guard Dawn Staley plan against her?

Green Bay-Iowa State: Watching the selection show last night, my non-follower of wbball friend (who’s gotten vaguely interested now that the Huskers are makin’ noise) said: “Wait, 30-1 and they get a 7-seed?!?!” This’ll be Green Bay’s chance to show folks they were underrated.

LSU-San Diego State: Shhhh! There’s a baby in the house! (I feel a drinking game coming on!) Because of her time at UCLA, Caldwell is  familiar with Beth Burns’ team and their feisty guards.

Princeton-Kansas State: Tigers first AP ranking followed by the highest seed in the Tourney? My grandpa would have been proud. Take down a Big 6 team? Wow.

Queenie has her own unique take on the First Round Dance Cards.

At Swish Appeal, 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Links: Reactions From Around SB Nation

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If you were, once again, scoreboard watching, I’m sure there was a moment when you went, “Whaaaaaa? Is someone messin’ with the ESPN numbers?”

Well, they sure were — ‘cept it was the players on the other teams. Six, count’em, six ranked teams got upset. Some by a bit, some by a ton. Awesome for the game.

Undefeated no more: #9 Green Bay got schooled by the other Mitten, Detroit. At home (the ESPN front page picture contrasting the players and the GB fans is, as they say, worth a thousand words).

WHBlog readers had this game penciled in their calendars: #18 Gonzaga v. BYU in the WCC. Well, it wasn’t much of a game as the Cougars ran roughshod over the Bulldogs, 70-40. Man, the conference tournament ought to be fun!

And how about Arkansas, knocking off #24 South Carolina. By 21. Perhaps the Gamecocks were a little cocky?

In her chat, Mechelle wondered about the Vols emotional state and how much they had in the tank. Well, they had enough to pull even with Vandy in the second half, but then ran outta gas. Glory fouls out, Comodores win pulling away, 93-79.

There had been some talk of #10 Ohio State being leery of going in to Champaign to face Illinois, but it felt more like “don’t look past an opponent, ’cause the Purdue game is coming up” talk (and the Buckeyes had beaten the Illini by 12 two weeks ago). But who thought Illinois, down twelve, would squeak out the 1-pt victory courtesy of an Alexis Burke layup with two seconds left?

The other other Mitten (no, not Central Michigan) went into Lincoln and made first-half life absolutely miserable for the Cornhuskers, holding them to 12 points. Michigan did manage to hold on through Nebraska’s second half surge and come away with the 63-52 win.

Chelsea Gray made sure Duke didn’t become the seventh ranked to fall as Boston College got all feisty at the Forum.

In an off night (27 pts, 15 rebounds, 2 ast, 3 blks), EDD made sure Delaware stayed undefeated in the CAA.

In the CAA under-card, James Madison (9-3) and Drexel (7-5) went to overtime, and it was the Dukes over the Dragons.

In the other CAA under-card, VCU (7-5) took down Hofstra (8-4), 76-60. Man, get your tickets now – that’s going to be a fierce conference tourney.

UTEP still rules all in the C-USA. (There are some off-court distractions, though.)

In a battle of bears, the Golden took down the Bruin.

Has anyone noticed that Eastern Washington is now 10-2 in the Big Sky, quietly leap frogging the Montanas?

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I was listening in to Debbie and Beth’s podcast from last week (love their State of the (Basketball) Union addresses) so I could pick up the names of five “under the radar” players (though I wouldn’t call Julie UTR) and give them a little shout out:

At Florida International, it was sophomore guard Jerica Coley. She’s had 5 30+ games and her 24ppg sits her right behind EDD in the scoring race.

At Hofstra, it was junior forward Shante Evans. She entered her junior season with 1,024 career points and 665 career rebounds (putting her at eighth all-time in program history.

At VCU, it was senior forward Courtney Hurt. “Hurt turned in perhaps the greatest season in VCU history in 2010-11, leading the nation in rebounding (12.4 rpg) and double-doubles (25), while ranking second in the NCAA in scoring (23.2 ppg).”

At Green Bay, it was senior forward Julie Wojta. Shooting 52% from the field this season, she averages 18.7 ppg, is an 82% FT shooter, and has snagged 77 steals.

At Gonzaga it was senior forward Kayla Standish. She averages 15 ppg and 7.5 rebs. Last year she scored double-figure points in all but five games; including 12 20-plus point contests and two 30-plus point contest.

A player they might want to holler at: junior forward Central ArkansasMegan Herbert. When the Sugarbears took down McNeese State, Herbert had a season-high 32 points and 15 rebounds for her 56th career double-double and became the eighth player in Sugar Bear history to eclipse the 1,500-point mark. Howee says Van says: she’d exceeded Fowles’ double-double count, and was second only to Courtney Paris in consecutive dd games.

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“Hey Green Bay…

…where’s ur WNBA title?”

heh. heh. heh.

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Point guards lead the way in Sweet 16

We may be living in the year of the quarterback, but March will always be the month of the point guard.

When the Sweet 16 gets under way on Saturday afternoon, some of the biggest stars on the court will be the smallest players on the court. From eight standout seniors looking to play at least one more game to four freshmen who appear ready to battle for bragging rights for years to come, the weekend’s most intriguing subplots may come from duels between players who do considerably more than merely bring the ball up the floor.

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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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since Houston lost and McNesse State won, the WHB curse was neutralized. (Yes, I’m using my escape goat.)

It’s the Cowgirls first trip to the NCAAs, and there’s a great story behind it:

Twin sisters Ashlyn and Caitlyn Baggett led McNeese State to the Southland Conference tournament championship and its first NCAA tournament berth on Friday night.

As they celebrated the 71-50 victory over Central Arkansas, the pair reflected on a time not too long ago when it looked as though they might never suit up for the Cowgirls again. After both had successful freshman seasons in 2009, they decided to leave the team and soon began dealing with health problems that threatened their athletic careers.

A year away from the court got them healthy and happy, and they combined for 38 points in the championship game.

Meanwhile, Houston ran into a Green Wave that has recently seemed to regain its footing. Their 70-60 upset of the #22 Cougars puts Tulane in the finals against UCF, who are riding a 10-game win streak.

No surprise, it’s UCLA v. Stanford in the Pac-10 finals, and Baylor v. Texas A&M in the Big 12.

Green Bay continues their run, and Graham continues his coverage.

Bowling Green moved past Central Michigan, 80-72, to move into the MAC finals. #1 seed Toledo got surprised by Eastern Michigan, and so it’s the Eagles, not the Rockets who’ll face the Falcons.

Prairie View A&M has recovered from their coach’s move last season, and are in the SWAC finals. Their former coach has taken her new team, UNC- Wilmington, into the CAA semis.

LaTech’s 1000th program win moves Spoon’s team into the WAC finals. Writes Mechelle: Life is grand for Lady Techsters

When sleeved jerseys were still the norm, box scores were run off on mimeograph machines and most “big” universities cared little for their women’s basketball programs, Louisiana Tech was winning games.

The sleeves are gone (even holdout Tech finally abandoned them), Twitter sends messages worldwide in a blink and there is significantly more money/effort now put into supporting the sport by most Division I schools.

And Louisiana Tech … is still winning games.

Friday, in fact, the Lady Techsters claimed their 1,000th victory, a milestone only Tennessee has reached among Division I programs.

“It means a lot to me because of them,” Tech coach Teresa Weatherspoon, one of the school’s playing legends, said of the current players. “I’m proud of where they’ve come from.”

Check out the finals on ESPNU today at 1pmPT.

Yup, I was right – you DON’T want to meet Delaware in the CAA tourney. The Fighting Blue Hens took down ODU, 72-55. EDD: 31pts, 10rebs, 4 blocks.

Okay, did my flashback make the Sycamore cranky? Indiana State (8/10 in the MVC) upset Stephanie Glance’s Illinois State Redbirds (12-6) 80-51 in the quarters.

Whoops! The Utes (7-9/MWC) used an exciting buzzer-beating shot to upset BYU, 50-49, so the Mountain West finals will feature Utah and soon to be Big East member, TCU.

It will be Portland State and Montana in the Big Sky finals.

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As our friend Pseudonymity notes, wet weather did a number on some SEC games:

Rain delay? What sport are we talking about? Tennessee beats Ole Miss in rain-shortened game after roof failure.

The same weather system caused the Florida-Vanderbilt game to be postponed until Friday night.

Auburn ends losing streak, upsets Georgia.

LSU wins overtime home game against South Carolina.

Mathies’ layup in the final seconds gives Kentucky the home win over Arkansas
Slow start dooms Alabama against Mississippi State, ending their mini-win streak.

I believe the following analysis is correct: With South Carolina’s loss to LSU, three of the first round byes in the SEC tournament are set: Tennessee is the #1 overall seed, and Kentucky and Georgia have byes. Vanderbilt can clinch a bye with one win in their next two games, tonight or against South Carolina on Sunday.

Otherwise, the fourth bye is complicated.

Want more on the SEC? Check out Rocky Top Talk, where David Hooper write: Three Weeks Is Enough Time for the Lady Vols

In a way, I really couldn’t be happier about how the regular season has gone for the Lady Vols.  Despite dropping a real head-scratcher to Georgetown in the Paradise Jam, the no-show against Baylor, and the multitude of dubious wins throughout conference play, Tennessee is positioning themselves for their best shot at a deep NCAA run since the Candace Parker-led championship teams.  The depth may actually be the greatest in the history of Tennessee basketball, and the mix of players affords Tennessee the opportunity to match up favorably against just about anything the field can throw their way.

In other games:

Note to self – Don’t be an idiot: Flip a finger, lose your Senior night. Guess it was a “fun” game between Rutgers and the University of South Florida.

In the “We’re not dead yet,” category: Ohio State got a pound of flesh when they rallied to upset #8 Michigan State.

No really, what is going on with the #16 Tar Heels (no disrespect to Georgia Tech intended)? North Carolina goes down for a third straight game.

There was no drama when the #9 Blue Devils met the Cavaliers.

Being ranked didn’t go to Houston’s head. The #25 Cougars easily handled the Thundering Herd.

No really, keep an eye on “insanely awesome” Miami. The #14 ‘Canes won big against #12 Florida State.

#17 Maryland easily defeated Virginia Tech and Green Bay hand no problem with Valpo, earning them the Horizon title.

Speaking of the Horizon, Butler (11-5  – Horizon) got surprised by Milwaukee (7-5), 73-66.

I’m thinking that if you’re in the CAA, you simply don’t want to face the Blue Hens and Delle Donne in the conference tourney. Delaware (9-7 – conf) took down VCU, (11-5 – conf) 75-67.

Doink! Maybe it’s a delayed WHB curse: Penn State lost to Purdue, 51-49. Mingo snagged 16 rebounds and 12 points.

Squeak! Maybe it’s a delayed reaction to their Stanford loss, but UCLA just squeaked by Arizona, 74-70.

Sports Illustrated (aka the AP) writes about this year’s new crop of players: Talented young guards make immediate impact

So does Mechelle: Simmons, Fussell live up to expectations – Freshmen from Tennessee and Texas shine in loaded and talented rookie class

Meighan Simmons has a little scar on her forehead, the kind you guess was caused by some childhood mishap. Considering the Tennessee freshman does everything at about 100 mph, you correctly suspect she wasn’t much different as a toddler.

“I was 2 years old,” Simmons explained. “I ran into the wall, split my head open. I was running from my older sister, and my dad had told me to slow down. Then I turned around to look to see if my sister was still coming and — bam. The wall was right there.”

And DishnSwish writes: From Rings & Medals to the Bottom of the Big East, Anne Donovan Is Loving the Challenge

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PINK OUT!!!

The WaPo writes that Lynetta Kizer is an energizing presence for the #11 Maryland women’s basketball team. Unfortunately, she couldn’t help the Terps avoid losing their second game in a row, this time to Virginia.

A full house at Michigan State (their first) went home happy as the #13 Spartans defeated Michigan, 69-56.

Fellow-state member Central Michigan snagged their fourth game in a row as they took down Kent State. Kaihla Szunko recorded her 16th double-double of the season.

The Ducks were gloomy, as USC skewered’em.

This is not a fun time to be a Hokie.

Oklahoma notched a win before they flew off to Storrs in anticipation of their Monday night game against #2 UConn (who also won).

Brittney… I mean, #1 Baylor stomped all over the Longhorns in anticipation of their Monday night game against the Aggies. Texas A&M got in the mood by stuffing the Jayhawks, 81-58.

With their win over Loyola (IL), #16 Green Bay remains undefeated in the Horizon.

Xavier’s stays undefeated in the A-10 with their win over Fordham.

Kris at was at the game as Houston surged to 11-0 in C-USA.

Hartford surprised Boston U, 66-59.

West Virginia continued to stumble as the Mountaineers lost to Louisville.

Congrats to Jantel Lavender, who overtook Buckeye great Katie Smith as the Ohio State’s scoring leader. I’m guessing the win over Purdue made her happier.

It wasn’t a waltz, but Stanford did take care of Washington, 62-52.

Ten points also was the difference as UCLA slipped by Oregon State.

Yah, it was another win, but who really thinks Pat’s happy with her #4 Vols?

#21 Miami’s on a roll and this time they rolled over UNC.

Duke took care of BC, Penn State survived Indiana (Lucas went 6-10 on 3’s), wobbly Kentucky squeaked by LSU, but #17 Georgetown couldn’t escape St. John’s.

Jayda has the story of a player who’s not in the game: Seattle U.’s Breanna Salley keeps playing, even if she can’t get on the court

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