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(yes, it’s been that kind of year).

Okay, that’ll learn me to look ahead: Holy Cross (9-14, 5-5) gets a first half lead on American (13-8, 8-2) and holds on for the 67-61 victory. Junior Raquel Scott scored a career-high 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting. AU is still atop the Patriot, but they’re keeping the door open for the rest of the crew.

Southern Miss in not impressed. They take down C-USA #2, Western Kenducky, 63-61. Next up, conference leader Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders defeated UTEP, 74-53, as Cheyenne Parker, a 6-foot-4 transfer from High Point, recorded the first triple-double in program history.

Called it: Tight game between Ohio and Central Michigan. Bradford’s 29 made her the all-time scoring leader in program history, but there not enough of other folks for the Chippewas, and the Bobcats prevail, 74-66. Reminder: Bob Bolden, former Penguin head coach, is leading Ohio:

The Baby Bobcats — there are six sophomores, one freshman and only one senior on the roster — continued to leave jaws wide open in the Mid-American Conference with a stunning 72-60 victory over the defending champion Zips in the Convocation Center.

What this team really has problems with is talking about what has been a fairytale type season in which a pumpkin has turned into a gilded coach.

Second-year coach Bob Boldon grudgingly — and finally — admitted that Ohio has become a legitimate contender in the MAC. The team is 16-3 overall and 7-1 and two games ahead of Akron in the East Division.

Also called it: Billikens kept it tight in the first, but the Flyers pulled away in the second, 87-72, behind senior Ally Mallott’s career-high 30 points.

Also called: Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’. Keep those (Fresno State) Bulldogs rollin’ – though they had to come back against Colorado State to get the win.

With its back against the wall, the Fresno State women’s basketball team delivered the counterpunches necessary to remain unbeaten atop the Mountain West Conference.

Tough-as-nails defense and consistent free-throw shooting fueled the Bulldogs’ rally from a six-point halftime deficit to a 53-49 win over Colorado State on Saturday afternoon. It marked the first time in conference play this season that Fresno State had trailed at the break.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’. Keep those (Gonzaga) Bulldogs rollin’.

Same with Stanford and Washington State: close in the first, not so much in the second. Cardinal win, 75-56.

Marist bounced back from its stomping by the Q to win a tough battle with Iona.

Neither the league’s top scorer nor an early deficit was enough to derail the Red Foxes on Saturday.

Despite facing two of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s best players and trailing in the second half, the Marist College women’s basketball team won at Iona, 63-58, in New Rochelle.

The Montanas were unkind to Sacramento: The Griz move to 8-1 in the Big Sky as they take down the Hornets in a Debbie Antonelli Special, 94-86.

The Anti-DebAntSpec: 41-38.

Heather Macy’s young East Carolina program is moving forward – they take down Tulane, 67-63.

Well, hello! Norfolk State reminds Hampton that the MEAC is still up for grabs.

Again, close (and moving in the right direction) but no cigar: San Diego rallied from a 12-points deficit to get the win over San Francisco, 74-69.

Bryant roared back in the second, but still couldn’t overcome Robert Morris. Both teams now sit in second place in the NEC, looking up at Central Connecticut State.

Duquesne with a nice win over Fordham, 56-46, to keep the A-10 tight. Tight, that is, behind conference leader George Washington.

Jillian Alleyne’s 30 helped bring back the Ducks from a 14-point deficit as Oregon stopped the UCLA Bears, 67-65.

No conversation about rebounding and Oregon women’s basketball goes long without bringing up star junior forward Jillian Alleyne.

Alleyne is a double-double machine, practically recording one just by waking up on game day. She does most of her work early, fighting to get superior position against the opposition. The end result is the ball seemingly falling into her hands, deceptively masking all of the work that goes into her boards.

This was uglier than expected: #7 Oregon State over USC, 68-35.

How happy is Tennessee-Martin to be in conference play? With their win over the Racers, their record is 13-9, and they’re 9-0 in the Ohio Valley (West). Sure helped that sophomore Ashia Jones tied the program’s single-game scoring record with 44 points.

Revenge taken: FCGU over Northern Kentucky.

It was a grand occasion Saturday for a pair of newly minted 1,000-point women’s basketball scorers in FGCU’s road game at Northern Kentucky.

But the Eagles had a better time, beating the stubborn Norse, 67-46 at Bank of Kentucky Center.

Ruvanna Campbell got her fourth straight double-double , but Green Bay got the win, 64-45.

Eastern Tennessee State is 6-0 in the Southern, but they host #25 Chattanooga next.

Some headline writer has been reading the blog! Northwestern welcomes Minnesota, looks to regain mojo

Northwestern looks to return to its winning ways of old on Sunday against Minnesota after the team lost a defense-optional game versus Iowa 102-99 on Thursday.

And maybe Gene from the WaPo? Maryland women’s basketball is unbeaten in Big Ten but focused on No. 20 Iowa

It’s been 30 years since a women’s basketball team from the Big Ten went undefeated over 18 conference games. Fifth-ranked Maryland is halfway there in its inaugural season and showing it’s by far the class of the conference after having beaten three of the other four ranked Big Ten schools.

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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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Patriot: Army did what it had to against American, and, Inspired by Maggie’s spirit, Knights refused to lose

Sometimes things just happen the way they are supposed to in sports. There is not always an easy explanation for why, or how, but rather some other phenomenon — happenstance, fate, whatever.

So it was early in the week that Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons texted his Army counterpart Dave Magarity. The words floated off Gibbons’ phone, like a butterfly. “Maggie will be smiling if we both get to West Point,” it said.

Holy Cross then did what it had to do to join Army, keeping their program record of  conference tourneys by stopping (and stomping) Navy. Pretty impressive of the Crusaders and coach Gibson, considering the upheaval that launched their season.

Summit: Nothing like an in-state rivalry to stir things up. The Jackrabbits got stunned by South Dakota ( first tournament loss after 15 consecutive victories.). The Coyotes then built on their success by defeating Denver (who’d ended IUPUI’s season of resurgence — in OT, of course.), earning their first NCAA bid.

America East: Albany’s Great Danes made quick work of the Sea Wolves – getting revenge for that blemish on their conference record, and earning a trip to the Dance.

MAAC: The first half, Quinnipiac had the Red Foxes on the ropes. Second half, Marist recovered to win their 9th straight conference tourney championship:

“The thing is that they persevered,” Marist coach Brian Giorgis said. “We broke the game down into where we wanted to be. We didn’t panic. We took it at them and made big shots down the stretch, made great decisions down the stretch.”

WCC: Saint Mary’s fought in the semis, but there was no doubt as Gonzaga roared over BYU to another WCC title – their sixth in seven years.

During that 20-minute shooting slump, the Cougars were unable to get the ball inside to Hamson, the WCC Player of the Year.

“We couldn’t get the ball to her because of (Gonzaga’s) pressure,” Judkins said. “Jen had a great tournament. I wish we could have gotten her the ball more. I think we would have been a lot better off. … We kind of got on our heels and we didn’t attack like we should have.”

It’s streaky!! Sims got a little banged up, and the Mountaineers got a little stubborn, but Baylor managed to snag their fourth consecutive Big 12 title.

Next! Chattanooga wiped out Davidson to earn the Southern crown. Said coach Foster: “We’re a good team,” Foster said. “It’s about time we start showing folks just how good.”

Huge win for the Penn State Quakers. They handily defeated the Princeton Tigers to earn a seat in the NCAA tournament. The Ivy League is the only conference in the country that doesn’t have a postseason tournament to decide its champion.

“I’m not a fan of an Ivy tournament. The reason is we need to send our best teams,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. “Imagine if Penn had lost to Dartmouth and we had lost to Brown and we’re not sending our best team. I feel confident Penn has earned it. They beat us on our home floor later in the season.”

Oh, and UConn won the inaugural American Conference title.

So, what about those pesky seedings?

From John Altavilla: Favorites Falling Adds Some Mystery To Seeding

However, ESPN‘s bracketologist, Charlie Creme, has been sticking by his guns, continuing to place UConn as the No. 1 to Louisville’s No. 2 in Kentucky.

For that to happen, however, the committee would essentially need to rank the Cardinals last among the No. 2 seeds, setting up a 1-8 scenario with UConn.

“How do I answer that question [about seeding] without being reprimanded,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “I’d lose my shirt, my per diem, everything.”

From Kevin Duffy: Fair or not, UConn may have to play regional at Louisville

The UConn women gashed their seventh top 10 opponent Monday night at The Sun, and in a week they very well could be named the No. 1 seed in the Louisville regional. As in, at the Yum! Center. As in, the reward for the group that just completed perhaps the best regular season ever could be a straight-up away game versus second-seeded Louisville in a hostile environment in the Elite Eight.

Tell me how that’s fair.

From Charlie: Louisville isn’t for UConn after all – Lincoln Regional makes much more sense for top-seeded Huskies

Connecticut has been an obvious No. 1 seed for some time. So the biggest question concerning the Huskies has been at which regional they will play their games.

Louisville or Lincoln? In the same region with rival Louisville, or farther away in Nebraska? Louisville has been my answer all season.

Until now.

What has prompted me to change my mind?

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Iona and their first-year coach, Billi Godsey. They went into the Red Foxes’ den and escape with a two point win — thus ending a 29-game losing streak.

“To us, it’s really big,” Martinez, a junior, said after tying teammate Joy Adams for game-high honors with her 18 points. “We’ve been playing them since I’ve been here, for a long time, (and) we haven’t beaten them yet. It feels really good to win at their place because every time we come here, we get blown out.

Is is just me, or do there seem to have been a lot of overtime games this season? Three last night.

No overtime in the UConn-Baylor game. The Bears kept is close, and got closer when Sims trusted her teammates and served a score-attemptor AND distributer. But, honestly, the star of the game was sophomore Moriah Jefferson, who was steady and effective from start to finish. The young point guard played with poise beyond her years, and one could argue she out-played Sims, and helped guide the Huskies to a win in Waco. It wasn’t a particularly elegant or aesthetically pleasing game, but I’m guessing both teams will walk away with much learned.

Read all about it courtesy of friend HuskyNan:

UConn responds late to finish off Baylor, Post
No. 1 UConn survives Baylor upset bid, Post
UConn Fights Off Determined Baylor, 66-55, Courant
UConn Trio Leading The Way In Blocked Shots, Courant
Jeff Jacobs: Huskies Pass Composure Test, Courant
Pictures: Undefeated UConn Women at Baylor, Courant
Live Updates: No. 1 UConn Women At No. 7 Baylor, Courant
Huskies work for win over No. 7 Baylor, Register
A game both teams benefited from, ESPN
Lady Bears put up fight, get overrun by top-ranked UConn, 66-55, Waco Tribune
Brice Cherry: Passion mirrored in coaches Mulkey, Auriemma, Waco Tribune

In other news:

Dang: South Carolina assistant McCray diagnosed with breast cancer

What tha…? Gators ban Mercer following robbery charge

Welcome back: Bill Gibbons Returns To Women’s Basketball Team

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From Jeff Metcalfe: Russ Pennell will not return as head coach of Phoenix Mercury

Russ Pennell will not return as the Mercury’s coach in 2014 after serving as interim coach for the final 18 games this season.

“I just wanted to stay in college basketball,” Pennell said Friday. “I had a great time with the Mercury. They treated me great from the top down. At the end of the day, my calling is in college basketball, and it was in the best interest for me and my family to pursue some other things.”

From Nate: The Atlanta Dream’s decision ‘to move in a different direction’ is both surprising and understandable

There’s reason to believe the Dream were sincere in their statement that they’re looking to simply change direction (and style of play?) after going 0-for-9 in their three WNBA Finals appearances over the last four years.

Williams, whose contract runs through Nov. 30, will move to a consultant position as the team transitions to a new head coach and general manager.

“Coach Williams has been an instrumental part of our success since the team’s inception, and although we have decided to move in a different direction, we appreciate Fred’s dedicated service and ensuring that the Dream remained among the top teams in the WNBA,” said Atlanta Dream co-owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler. “He is a great teacher of the game, and is well respected by his peers.”

In this case, there’s plenty of reason to believe that changing direction is genuinely the right thing to do rather than a euphemistic condemnation of Williams’ job performance.

From the News-Sentinel: Former players defend Holy Cross women’s coach

More than 50 former players, managers and coaches have signed a letter that refers to Gibbons as a “father figure” and someone they consulted when facing critical life decisions.

“Above all, he was a leader who always taught us to do right and — more importantly — to be ‘men and women for others’ in the Jesuit tradition,” the letter reads.

From the Gaston Gazette: Hatchell has lots of support in cancer battle

Support for Hatchell within the Tar Heel family was clear on Thursday. When Hatchell’s was shown wearing UNC’s “Zero Dark Thursday“ marketing T-shirt while giving a pre-recorded message during a stoppage of play in the first quarter imploring Kenan Stadium fans to support the Tar Heels, fans drowned out Hatchell’s message with loud cheers.

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From California: Burns files wrongful termination claim

“SDSU fired her,” the claim says, “in retaliation for her unwavering demands that SDSU put women’s basketball and men’s athletics on an equal footing … Coach Burns refused to remain silent in the face of the inequities she witnessed. She regularly complained regarding the department’s disparate treatment of the women’s basketball program.”

From Massachusetts: Holy Cross coach steps aside during abuse lawsuit

Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons has voluntarily stepped aside from his coaching duties, one day after he was accused in a lawsuit of verbally and physically abusing his players at games and practices. The college said in a statement this afternoon he will be on administrative leave with pay and his assistant coaches will assume all coaching duties. 

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, a former student athlete alleged that Mr. Gibbons physically and verbally abused his players and the college perpetuated a culture of denial and feigned ignorance over his actions. 

 

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than the dang NCAA tourney:

On the “Rolled’em” side it was:

…Baylor winning its third straight B12 Title by stomping all over Iowa State in the first half (Actually, Griner did most of the stomping) and cruising through the second half to a 75-47 win. BG shot 14-17, showing, says Mechelle, that Baylor’s ready for the Big Dance

Of course, the worst thing that could have happened to Iowa State was Oklahoma State giving Baylor a scare in the Big 12 women’s tournament semifinals.

In these past two seasons of dominance in their league, the Lady Bears just haven’t faced many challenges. That can sometimes cause motivation problems, even for very talented teams.

But this is a mature, senior-led group that understands Baylor is seeking a place in the pantheon of “greatest teams in women’s college history.” So being the defending NCAA champion and running through the league undefeated for a second year in a row hasn’t led to much lackadaisical, passionless play by Baylor.

…Marist winning its eighth straight MAAC title by tromping over the Gaels, 72-48. Writes Sean T. McMann of the Poughkeepsie Journal: Selflessness a source of pride with Marist

Throughout the course of a season, the Marist College women’s basketball team lends its support to local causes like the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation and the Friend of Jaclyn organization.

Monday, the Red Foxes helped each other out.

Marist’s first 17 field goals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title game came off an assist — that spanned from the opening tip until 7:34 into the second half — and the Red Foxes earned an assist on 24 of their 26 buckets in the game.

On the, “Dang, I wish I could have been there!” side:

It was a fun game to watch (thank you, U), though when I tuned in my mystical WHB powers sent both teams on scoring drought. Ooops! In the end, Middle Tennessee overcame their nemesis, Arkansas-Little Rock, 53-48. (Great crowd!)

“It feels a lot better to know you’re going to watch and you’re name’s going to get called, without a doubt,” Middle Tennessee guard Kortni Jones said. “Last year, we were on pins and needles.”… This year, we know our name will pop up.”

It’s too easy to forget that many of the players on this Blue Raiders team suffered the loss of teammate Tina Stewart.

The 1 v 2 match up between Davidson and Chattanooga lived up to it’s billing:

Kayla Christopher had one bit of advice for her Chattanooga teammates coming out of the huddle in the final frantic seconds — crash the boards.The Lady Mocs had 21 offensive rebounds, but none bigger than Christopher’s putback with 8.2 seconds remaining that lifted Chattanooga to a 64-63 victory over Davidson in the Southern Conference championship Monday.”I’ve been dreaming about this day for a month now and imagining what it would be like,” Christopher said. “For it to actually come true is just awesome.”

It was the Mocs’s ninth conference championship in 13 years under Wes Moore.

San Diego hung tough, but in the end, Gonzaga, and a key player, made sure their NCAA destiny was in their own hands:

Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves expected to play the West Coast Conference championship game without Taelor Karr after the senior guard hurt her back in the semifinals.

After testing it out during warm-ups, Karr announced to her coach that she was ready to go, giving the Bulldogs just the lift they needed to make another trip to the NCAA tournament.Fighting through pain and a rough start, Karr had 14 points, six assists and five rebounds to help lift Gonzaga to a 62-50 win over San Diego in the WCC final Monday, earning the Bulldogs an NCAA berth for the fifth straight season.

The Summit was an all-South Dakota event: To get to the finals, the Jackrabbits easily dispatched the Mastodons (No, I’m not kidding) and the Coyotes came back from a halftime deficit to defeat the IUPUI Jaguars, 82-72. This was South Dakota’s first ever finals. It was a close fought game, with the newcomers holding the lead for most of the game. But, in front of record crowd of 6,153, the Jackrabbits prevailed,

Still TBD: From Gene Wang at WaPo:Navy women’s basketball advances to Patriot League tournament final

The second-seeded Navy women’s basketball team kept its bid to win a third consecutive Patriot League tournament title intact by blunting a second-half rally and nearly getting a triple-double from Alix Membreno to complete a 60-48 semifinal victory over Bucknell in front of 579 at Alumni Hall on Monday night.

They’ll go up against Holy Cross, where coach Gibbons did a nice job righting the ship after a tough start to the season.

Michigan State’s Senior Jasmine Thomas is capping ‘unbelievable’ final year

Jasmine Thomas shrugged it off after learning she earned all-tournament honors Sunday.

The pain and frustration from a 62-47 loss to Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament championship game was still fresh on the Michigan State senior guard’s mind.

But without Thomas, the Spartan women’s basketball team wouldn’t have reached the championship game for the second time ever. And without her, there’s no telling where MSU would be right now.

In Nebraska, Sam McKewon writes about the Long Wait

Now the Nebraska women’s basketball team gets to sit tight, get healthy and try to keep some semblance of on-court chemistry. For almost two weeks.

The Huskers bowed out of the Big Ten Tournament Saturday in their 77-64 loss to Purdue. Though football kept me in Lincoln, I watched both the rout over Iowa and the loss to the Boilermakers, and neither result particularly surprised me. The margins did. But not the results.

Okay, this is just disappointing: Suspension of 19 Jackson Community College women’s basketball players, assistant coach after bench-clearing fight is just, league official says

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