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….aaaaand dance by the light of the moon!”

It took a buzzer beater by Stephanie Reid, but for the first time in Buffalo history, the program has won a MAC championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

UB Women’s Basketball wasn’t supposed to here, at least not with this group of women.

After going from one of the deepest frontcourts in the conference in January 2015 to one of the youngest teams in the country by October 2016, the Bulls weren’t supposed to advance to the MAC Semifinal for the second straight year and third time in school history.

Even after upsetting them twice in the regular season, the eighth-seeded UB wasn’t supposed to beat frontrunner Ohio, sitting on a bye in the quarterfinal.

In today’s 88-87 win over fifth-seeded Akron, who beat Buffalo twice in the regular season, the Bulls weren’t supposed to hang with the Zips’ desired pace and outside shooting. They weren’t supposed to hit the half within two – or the final quarter within a single – possessions after Akron came out blazing from three. (The Zips would finish with 15 made threes). And they certainly weren’t supposed to survive losing sophomore point guard Stephanie Reid to her fifth foul midway through the third quarter.

But the Bulls hit plenty of shots…

Others singing, “Do ya, do ya, do ya wanna dance?”

Hawai’i, representing the Big West. The last time the Wahine went dancin’ it was 1998 and they were “Gettin’ Jiggy wit It” and Will Smith. Senior Ashleigh Karaitiana was four.

“It was all part of the process,” Karaitiana said. “Not just for this year, but the last four years. This is what we worked for, and I’m really proud of the outcome.”

Karaitiana was named tournament MVP after averaging 15 points per game. She shot 6 of 13 from the field to help second-seeded Hawaii earn a measure of redemption after losing the Big West title game last year.

“We were in this game last year and got the result we didn’t want,” she said. “We came into this game more prepared and knowing what we need to do and took care of it on the floor tonight.”

Alabama State, representing the SWAC. No surprise, for a conference that had a three-way tie in the regular season, the final game was edgy affair.
“We knew it was going to be a war,” said Lady Hornets coach Freda Freeman-Jackson, who became the first SWAC coach to lead a team to consecutive tournament titles. “Southern is always a championship-caliber team. We knew we had our work cut out.
Idaho, representing the Big Sky. In the first “all-Idaho” finals, the Vandals got a battle from upstart Idaho State, then dug deep.

Before the hugs, before the smiles and cries, and before the trophy-hoisting, picture-posing and net-cutting, the Idaho women’s basketball team had to come to a realization: This could be the end. 

Trailing Idaho State by three at halftime Saturday in the Big Sky Conference tournament title game, the Vandals understood they were 20 minutes away from falling short of their season-long championship aspirations.

The seniors didn’t want their collegiate careers to end. The freshmen didn’t want their magical debut season to conclude with heartbreak. The coaches didn’t want the work their players put in all year to not pay dividends the way it had in the past.

North Carolina A&T, representing the MEAC. The Aggies handled Coppin State to earn their first championship in seven years, the first for fourth-year coach Tarrell Robinson.

Aprill McRae and Christina decided to transfer from VCU because they believed head coach Tarrell Robinson’s vision for winning a championship at North Carolina A&T State University. Dana Brown had the same aspirations when she transferred from UNC Wilmington.

Courtney Powell decided to play one more season of college basketball as a graduate transfer for the same reason. Perhaps the most inspiring story comes from fifth=year guard Adriana Nazario’s decision to play one more year – despite having graduated and despite having knee problems – in an effort to give this whole winning a championship thing one more try. Their decisions paid off.

James Madison, representing the Colonial. For the third-straight year, the Dukes earned the conference championship (and name collectors, here’s one for ya: Jazmon Gwathmey)

JMU (27-5) will bring a 20-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament. The run includes three wins over the Dragons (19-13), who were looking for their first league title since 2009.

Gwathmey, the CAA Player of the Year, made half of her 18 shots, collected four rebounds and, at the end, absorbed a meaningful hug from her appreciative coach.

“A very special moment,” Brooks said.
“It meant a lot because this is what we work for,” Gwathmey said. “It’s definitely the way you want to go out your senior year, especially winning three in a row.”
New Mexico State, representing the WAC. Payback was on the mind of the Aggies as they routed Rio Grande Valley, 80-53.

It’s the program’s first ever back-to-back conference tournament titles, fourth NCAA Tournament bid and the first consecutive NCAA Tournament bids since 1987 and 1988.

“Going into this game, they kind of ruined our Senior Night,” said senior Sasha Weber, who was named tournament MVP. “Personally, that was a little bit of fuel for me. I know Shanice (Davis) and Abby (Scott) too being seniors. And they snapped our undefeated streak. Especially getting down at 20 at home, we knew coming into this game, a championship game, we had to start off strong and keep up the intensity up.”

Army, representing the Patriot. MVP Kelsey Minato‘s 25  helped propel the Black Knights to win number 29 and send the team back to the NCAA tourney.

“This group of young ladies has just accomplished so much with 99 wins over four years at this level is incredible and they just continue to do what it takes,” Magarity said. “Janae McNeal and the junior class with Aliyah Murray and the Morris twins [Destinee and Daizjah], as well, and I consider my coaching staff the best in America. It’s the best coaching staff I’ve ever had and I’ve had some pretty good coaches.”

He also couldn’t have had many better players than Mina1q. The senior guard – Army’s all-time leading scorer – served in her customary role of scoring when the team needed it most. She scored half of her team’s 20 first-quarter points, including a jumper to conclude the period. By game’s end, she had scored a game-high 25 points, including 4 of 8 from beyond the 3-point line.

Middle Tennessee State, representing the C-USA. The Blue Raiders ended ODU’s great run with a confident 70-54 win.

“Sometimes I get caught up in watching them play, instead of coaching them,” Insell said. “They are such a joy to watch, and a lot of people didn’t give us the credit we deserved.”

The second-seeded Blue Raiders (24-8) have won six straight and 15 of their last 16 games, and the conference championship in two of the last three seasons.

 Troy, representing Sun Belt. Known for their offense, Troy’s win came down to… defense. In the last 20 seconds, a score by Ashley Beverly Kelley followed by a win-saving block by Caitlyn Ramirez –  capped the journey of a program’s revival.

Head coach Chanda Rigby inherited a two-win program in 2012, and now just four years later the Troy women’s basketball team is the 2016 Sun Belt Tournament Champions after a 61-60 over Little Rock at Lakefront Arena on Saturday.

Troy will make the second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and its first since 1997.

 “Our overall goal and theme was faith, faith was our motto,” Rigby said.  “I felt more out of sync and more out of the groove in this game than probably any game we’ve played the second half of the year.  It was a bad feeling, but the faith – we just kept saying to keep it close.

 “And of course, what happened at the end was nothing that the coaches called.  I believe it was Ashley Beverly Kelley’s faith in the end that she could get the ball in her hands and pull us ahead, and I think faith is what made Caitlyn go up for the blocked shot that sealed it in the end.

Other results:
I TOLD you the Horizon was going to be interesting. In the semis, Northern Kentucky took Green Bay to two overtimes before falling 80-78.
In the Southland, Sam Houston 14-17, 7-11) upset  Northwestern State (19-11, 13-5), 78-71.
As their similar records might have predicted, the Missouri State and Drake game was a back-and-forth affair. The Bears pulled away in the fourth to secure the 65-61 win.

Sunday games (DID YOU SPRING AHEAD?) that will secure the final guaranteed spots in the Tournament:

Southland: Central Arkansas v. Sam Houston State, 12:30PM. The Sugar Bears are the heavy favorite, but we’ve see what THAT means this tourney season…

A-Sun: Florida Gulf Coast v. Jacksonville, 2PM – ESPN3. Yes, the Eagles are the cream of the conference, but Jacksonville’s been making some noise.

Big South: Liberty v. UNC Asheville, 2PM. Liberty has been the traditional power in the conference, but the Bulldogs have undergone a huge transformation under coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick (3 years ago = 2 wins).

NEC: Robert Morris v. Sacred Heart, 3PM. Under (retiring) coach Sal Buscaglia, the Colonials have fought their way to the final and, to be honest, I haven’t really noticed how strong the Stags have been in conference play this year.

MVC: Missouri State v. Northern Iowa, 3PM. This ought to be a great match up between teams with similar records. They split their regular season games. (BTW, UNI’s Tanya Warren should be on AD’s “poachable” list… and in case you’ve missed it, “Hello, coach Kellie Harper!”)

Horizon: Green Bay v Milwaukee, 1PM. Year after year, teams come at the Phoenix, and year after year they get turned back. Last time these two teams met, it was a 23-point loss for the Panthers.

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We could have had it aaaaaaaaaallllll…” But a great win by (and for) Duquesne, 56-52.

April Robinson’s three-pointer with 22.3 seconds remaining sent the third-seeded Duquesne Dukes into their first-ever Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Championship with a 56-52 victory over second-seeded Saint Louis in a hard-fought second semifinal Saturday afternoon at the Richmond Coliseum.

“On a day where we didn’t shoot the ball well, we played against a very good team and found a way to win,” said Duquesne head coach Dan Burt. “There were so many unheralded performances by our group. Now, we get to play a team that beat us earlier, and to me has a top five draft pick. What greater challenge could you have this time of year?”

Got my Orange CrushSyracuse upset Louisville, 80-75.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’! Get them doggies rollin‘!” UConn chomped on the Pirates.

It’s a Great Day for the Irish” Notre Dame swept over Miami

Some day the bear will eat you” Baylor made mincemeat of Texas Tech.

Turtle! That’s a tortoise!Maryland topped the Wildcats, 83-62.

So overpowering has top-seeded Maryland been lately that Northwestern’s Joe McKeown, the coach of the Terrapins’ opponent in Saturday’s Big Ten women’s basketball tournament semifinals, conceded he may have to resort to a special defense called “HTM” simply to have a chance.

“You know what HTM means?” McKeown said. “Hope They Miss.”

Oh, Ca-na-daaaa!Jordin (and Kari) rescues the Bruins from the Bears in OT. Check out coverage by Hoopism’s Joe Veyera.

For almost three quarters, the Cal Golden Bears looked poised to pull a third straight tournament upset.

But foul trouble for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Kristine Anigwe, and the fatigue of a third game in as many days would prove to be too much to overcome in the closing minute, in a 73-67 UCLA victory in overtime.

And though Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said the best feeling is the celebration that comes with a win, there’s something valuable about the heartbreak of a defeat.

One of these days the boot are going to walk all over you” South Carolina made mincemeat of Kentucky’s defense, winning by 30.

I’ve got the power!” – Aerial Powers’ 31 points helped make the third game between the Spartans and the Buckeyes “no contest.”

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river” Texas overwhelmed Kansas.

We are the champions!” Congrats to Belmont:

The Bruins (24-8) have plenty to celebrate with their first tournament title since 2007 when they took the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championship for their lone NCAA appearance until now. The same team that lost six straight earlier this season, including the first two OVC games, now has won 16 of 17 and six straight as they wait to hear where they will play next.

“It’s kind of an indescribable feeling …,” McCabe said. “We get to go to the NCAAs, we get to go dancing. It’s just an incredible feeling and to know that your hard work has paid off is really rewarding and exciting to think about the challenge that we have on our hands next.”

Even with Green Bay’s dominance, the Horizon continues to intrigue: The Phoenix were upset by Oakland, Cleveland StateCleveland State beats Northern Kentucky,

Refocus time: This time upstart UT Rio Grande got the job done against New Mexico State, handing the Aggies their first WAC loss of the season, 66-55.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros women’s basketball team clinched the No. 2 seed in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament by knocking off the WAC Champion New Mexico State University Aggies, who had previously been undefeated in WAC play, 66-55 on Saturday at the Pan American Center.
 
This is the highest conference tournament seed in program history.

About The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was created by the Texas Legislature on Dec. 7, 2012, in a historic move that combined the resources and assets of UTPA and UTB, and, for the first time, made it possible for residents of the Rio Grande Valley to benefit from the Permanent University Fund. The institution will also be home to a School of Medicine and will transform Texas and the nation by becoming a leader in student success, teaching, research and healthcare. UTRGV enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine will open in 2016.

UC Riverside closes out the regular season undefeated in conference play – and with a nice moment of sportsmanship:

Their first meeting was a lopsided affair won by UCR, 90-43, but that didn’t stop the two programs from showing a touch a class in their last regular season game of 2016.

In the opening tip-off senior Annelise Ito was on the floor for the first since time her tearing her acl four weeks ago. She was joined by Rejane Verin, and seniors Brittany Crain, Akilah Martin and Tahvia Morrison in the starting lineup.

Verin was allowed to control the tip out of bounds so that Ito could substituted out of the game to cheers from an appreciative crowd.

The Big South tourney will be interesting, as Presbyterian upsets Liberty and Longwood upsets Gardner-Webb.

What’s up today:

A10 Final: Dukes v. Colonials – 12pm CBSSN

America East Semis: Stony Brook v. Maine – 2pm; Albany v. Binghamton – 4:30. BTW Binghamton is hosting.

The last time the Bearcats won a conference tournament game senior guard Kim Albrecht was still in her senior year of high school.

Albrecht scored a team-high 18 points on 7 of 14 shooting (2 of 6 on 3-pointers) to earn the fifth-seeded Binghamton University women’s basketball team a spot in the America East Conference semifinals with a 49-41 win over the fourth seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County in the quarterfinals in the Events Center on Saturday night.

“No one on this team has won a playoff game,” Albrecht said. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world. This is what we’ve worked towards all year. There’s really nothing better, and it means everything to this team. To be picked ninth and finished tied for the third and win a playoff game when we’re the lower seed. It’s just huge.”

About the Black Bears: Senior standout embraces role as face of UMaine women’s basketball

Liz Wood arrived at the University of Maine as part of an unprecedented, nine-member freshman class on the women’s basketball team.

In the last four years, that talented and diverse group has helped transform the Black Bears into an America East championship contender.

It is Wood who has been the unquestioned leader during the resurgence by coach Richard Barron’s team, which takes a 24-7 record into the America East quarterfinal against New Hampshire at noon Saturday at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.

American Semis: Tulane v. UConn – 4:30 ESPNU, Temple v. South Florida – 6:30 ESPNU

The Temple women’s basketball team has seen other squads in the Owls’ athletic department family  do wondrous things in the American Athletic Conference  since the school year on North Broad Street in Philadelphia got under way last fall.
The footballers gained national attention, won The American East Division and went to a bowl game after falling short of one with a little more prestige in the conference title game.
Fran Dunphy’s men’s hoopsters ended up claiming the top seed in this coming week’s tourney after the women’s is completed on Monday night.
So maybe it was time for Tonya Cardoza’s women’s hoopsters  to put their claim on some notoriety in conference competition, especially with a nice prize attached to the effort.
ACC Final: Orange v. Irish – 12:30 ESPN

“We can beat anyone,” promised junior center Briana Day, celebrating her team’s relentless refusal to wilt despite losing a 12-point lead to the Cardinals, whose only previous loss this calendar year came to Notre Dame, 66-61 on Feb. 7.

The Fighting Irish will look to cement their place as the second-best team in the land — behind three-time defending NCAA champion UConn — while, win or lose Sunday, Syracuse probably will be hosting first- and second-round games of the NCAA tournament in the Carrier Dome.

Vicki: 

While the ACC tournament semifinals were played without a team from North Carolina for the first time Saturday, here’s what hasn’t changed.

Notre Dame, the conference empress since joining a league dominated by Tobacco Road schools three years ago, extended its reign to 56-1 in the ACC by eliminating fourth-seeded Miami 78-67 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Headier still, the victory puts the Irish in the 30-win-and-likely-more column for the sixth consecutive season; the last time the Irish failed to reach those heights was 2009-10 when they won 29 games.

Big 10 Final: Michigan State v. Maryland 7pm ESPN

Big 12 Semis: Oklahoma v. Baylor; West Virginia v. Texas – 5:00

Ivy: For all the marbles, it’s Penn v. Princeton – 5:30 @ Princeton

MAAC semis: Monmouth v. Quinnipiac – 11am ESPN3; Marist v. Iona 1:30 (audio)

PAC 12 Final: UCLA v. Oregon State – 9pm

Michelle (is back! hi!): Oregon State-UCLA title game proof of Pac-12’s new power

These are indeed heady new days in Pac-12 women’s basketball. The tournament championship will be played Sunday at Key Arena and for only the second time in 14 years, Stanford won’t be taking the floor.

In fact, on Saturday night, the Cardinal were already at home, braving the rain in the Bay Area rather than an opposing defense in the semifinals. And that has never happened.

After nearly two decades of having Tara VanDerveer’s team serving as the standard-bearer, the name brand for an entire coast, the Pac-12’s rebranding has become complete over four days in Seattle.

SEC Final: Mississippi State v. South Carolina – 2:30 ESPN

Mechelle: South Carolina hitting stride as it reaches SEC final

Mississippi State slowed the Tennessee train at the SEC women’s basketball tournament, but a bigger locomotive is still coming down the tracks.

Top-seeded South Carolina, looking downright scary Saturday, will take on No. 3 seed Mississippi State for the championship and accompanying NCAA automatic bid Sunday (ESPN, 2:30 p.m. ET). The Bulldogs will be underdogs, but they kind of relish that. It’s just the program’s second trip to the SEC final — the other was in 2000 — and it’s a milestone for them to get this far again.

Southern Conference Finals: Chattanooga v.Mercer – 1pm ESPN3. About those Bears:

If Mercer can get it done against Chattanooga, it will make history. The Bears have never reached the NCAA Tournament as a Division I program, although Mercer did have some strong seasons in the AIAW back in the 1970s and early 1980s, and it reached the NCAA Division II Final Four in the 1984-85 season.

“Mercer has a great history, AIAW when Sybil Blaylock played,” said [head coach Susie] Gardner, who led Austin Peay to the NCAA Tournament in the 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. “Back in the day before the NCAA, they were one of the top teams in the country. I’m just glad that we’ve been able to do it. I’m happy for the players. I’ve done a few things as a coach and a player, but these guys, they’ve worked so hard that I’m just happy that they get to experience the joy that they feel right now and how happy that locker room is.”

You’re out (Kelsey).

Myth No. 1: Arizona’s women’s basketball team can’t attract fleas.

On Senior Day, 2004, Arizona drew 5,003 to watch the Wildcats beat Oregon. In the previous month, the Wildcats drew crowds of 4,350, 4,111 and 3,507. They would go on to win the Pac-10 co-championship.

Myth No. 2: Arizona’s women’s basketball team has never won a game that meant anything.

On Jan. 12, 1998, the No. 9 Wildcats broke Stanford’s 48-game Pac-10 winning streak when Reshea Bristol swished a three-pointer at the buzzer. The Cardinal had won 22 consecutive games against Arizona.

The crowd of 3,010 rushed the court at McKale Center. UA coach Joan Bonvicini did a full-on dive onto the pile of celebrating bodies at midcourt.

BTW, cranky about ESPN’s “new and improved” game stats? Try this site: Stat Broadcast 

Oops! WHB curse: KCK Community College women’s basketball team knocks out No. 1 Johnson County

The Kansas City Kansas Community College women’s basketball team dethroned the defending national champions Thursday.

The Blue Devils beat previously undefeated Johnson County 63-56 in the NJCAA Division II, Region VI title game at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kan. Kansas City Kansas, 29-3, lost two of its three regular-season games against the Cavaliers, 31-1, the No. 1-ranked team from wire-to-wire this season.

This is the 20th anniversary of all 5-on-5 girls basketball championships in our state. In 1995, Oklahoma crowned its last 6-on-6 champion, the last state in the union to have tournaments for the three-players-per-side, no-crossing-midcourt game.

Ask players now about playing that way, and they look like their heads might explode.

“I dunno how they did it,” said Mendell, Lamer’s backcourt trap partner.

WATN? Basketball veterans: Teamwork mirrors life

Life on a team is exhilarating.

For three Sioux Falls women who made basketball a big part of their lives, there are few things that compare with playing the sport in college or professionally. The highs, the lows, the emotions are all intense when shared with others working toward the same goals of improving skills and winning games, they say.

“It’s hard to replicate. Basketball is a unique experience,” says Amy Mickelson Brecht, who played for a championship Brookings High School team and went on to earn a starting position her junior and senior years at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she graduated in 1990. “There’s a lot of emotional ups and downs … a lot of rewards.”

Time on a team leaves a lifelong impression, says Olympia Scott, a retired WNBA player and Stanford University standout who lives in Sioux Falls with her husband and three children.

“It’s really shaped who I am,” Scott says. “You have the opportunity to get tremendous results from your hard work.”

 

 

 

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On cue, the LIU moves to 4-5 in the NEC with a win over Fairleigh Dickinson, 65-62.

In their first meeting, Bucknell hosted Army and beat’em by 10. In the West Point rematch, the Black Knights pulled away in the fourth for a 5-point win. With both teams at 8-1 in the conference, there’s no margin for error in the race to the Patriot League title.

Okay, then. With their first victory in 11 tries against Stetson, Jacksonville moves to 6-0 in the A-Sun and is tied with Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun. Guess who the Dolphins get to play on the 4th…in Naples? And host on the 10th…in Jacksonville.

Looking to keep everyone in the Horizon honest, Northern Kentucky takes down the Penguins, 88-77. A little sting to the win: former YSU guard, Shar’Rae Davis who finished the half with a total of 12 points off the bench. She was one of three players who didn’t receive scholarship renewals in 2014,

*no jinx, no jinx* UNC Asheville is now 9-2 in the Big South.

*WHB talked cr@p about us. Let’s show her!* Rutgers starts ugly but finishes strong against Nebraska, earning a 66-55 win.

*continued jinx?* UT Rio Grande lost – but it was to WAC top dog, New Mexico State.

The Miners are still perfect in C-USA play (9-0), but after Marshall, Western Kentucky (8-1) (who lost to MTSU) looms, Feb. 6th. MTSU (7-2), which has had some “stuff” going on this year, lost to UTEP 84-73 earlier this season, but doesn’t get a rematch.

Fresno State (ummm… shout out to the Bee: ““I just feel like we know how to come back,” senior co-captain Toni Smith said in a phone interview after the game.) and Colorado State have unblemished Mountain West records – will that last until March 1st, when they get to face off against each other?

Squeak! Ohio moved to 9-0 in the MAC with a one-point win over Ball State, 68-67.

Hmmmm… the Bulldogs are struggling, yes, but I’m sure San Francisco is enjoying beating Gonzaga.

On a day when USF honored its 1996 Sweet 16 team, the 2015-16 San Francisco women’s basketball team made a place for themselves in program history as well. The Dons scored the first bucket of the game and never trailed to earn a big 71-52 win over the Bulldogs at War Memorial Gym at the Sobrato Center on Saturday afternoon.

The victory was their first win over the 11-time WCC defending champions since a West Coast Conference tournament win on March 2, 2006. The 19-point deficit is also the largest loss of the season for Gonzaga, who lost to Stanford 65-48 on Nov. 15 during non-conference action.

Gotta love in-state games: Bobcats knock off Lady Griz

A year ago this month, the Montana State women’s basketball team crumbled and lost its composure in a 62-48 loss to Montana that sent the Bobcats to 1-4 in conference, searching for answers.

A year later, it seems like the Bobcats of head coach Tricia Binford have all the right ones.

Ooooooooh, De-bbie: Eastern Kentucky over Morehead State, 100-93; Eastern Washington over Sacramento State, 100-83.

What to look for Sunday:

#12 Kentucky at Florida – will the Wildcats bounce back, or with the Gators camp.

St. John’s at #23 DePaul. The Blue Demons have been up and down… and the Red Storm has been knocking at the door of the polls.

UNC at NC State. A missing coach adds intrigue to the 101st edition of this in-state rivalry.

St. Louis at George Washington. The Billikens (7-1) are SO much better.… but the Colonials are undefeated (8-0) in conference….

Alabama at Tennessee. One would thing the Tide would be just what the doctor ordered for the Vols…. but remember, they gave TAMU a scare.

#13 Mississippi State at Arkansas. The Razorbacks have been snacking on ranked teams. How focused will the Bulldogs be after their big win over Tennessee?

#2 South Carolina at Texas A&M (ESPN2). It’s never fun to play against the 12th man.

It’s likely that #14 Louisville will stay hot against Wake Forest... so I can’t help but look ahead to Feb 7th when they face Notre Dame.

BTW, in Division II news:

McKendree University men’s basketball coach Harry Statham posted his 1,098th career victory Thursday night, matching Pat Summitt’s mark for the most at a four-year school.

Statham is in his 50th season at the Division II college. He guided the Bearcats past Wisconsin-Parkside 92-85 on the court named in his honor.

The 78-year-old Statham has a career record of 1,098-474. He can top Summitt’s record Saturday when McKendree hosts Lewis. (Didn’t)

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Had to follow it on twitter (thanks, Gonzagawbb – loved the video commentary and this morning’s GAME HIGHLIGHTS) but what a game between the Bulldogs and the Dons. Through three overtimes, neither team would let the other win… until finally, in the fourth,  10-time defending conference champion Gonzaga prevailed, 91-84. The game featured 21 lead changes, 14 ties and lasted two hours and 50 minutes, becoming the longest game in West Coast Conference women’s basketball history.

“I’ve never been involved in a four overtime game,” head coach Jennifer Azzi noted after the marathon on the court. “Never. This is the first one ever – playing, coaching. I don’t even know if I’ve ever been involved in a three overtime, so this was pretty crazy. This team is really special. They get along very, very well, and they’re very supportive of one another. I’m just so proud of our team.”

I know coach Azzi must be sick and tired of my (and anyone else’s)  “signs of program progress” commentary, and her players must be pissed and exhausted, but consider what was happening in San Fransisco when she assumed the head coaching duties in 2010: The program hasn’t had a winning record since 2001-02, and only one since 1996-97. They now stand at  and are a young team (3 seniors) with some height. Things could get very interesting out west….

In other games, Gonzaga’s WCC rival St. Mary’s got smacked by their other WCC rival, Pacific, 61-48.

Kendall Kenyon had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the first half for her 45th career double-double, which broke the program record amassed by Julie Szukalski from 1986-90. Kenyon finished with 12 points and a season-high 17 rebounds, including eight on offense, to go with two blocks, two assists, one steal and only one turnover in 28 minutes.

“It’s pretty awesome to hit that milestone,” Kenyon said. “It really tops off my senior year. But I’m just trying to keep moving forward and keep improving. Coach Roberts always says consistency in key in great teams and great players.”

It was a great game between the top two teams in the OVC, Tennessee-Martin and SIU-Edwardsville, but the conference leading Skyhawks emerged victorious, 69-68.

The OVC produced the second Debbie Antonelli Special of the night, as Murray State upset Austin Peay, 98-84.

No, #18 Princeton wasn’t upset, but fellow Ivy League undefeated Yale was – by Harvard, 65-55.

The Big West seems to be slipping out of Long Beach State’s hands and into the Wahine’s. 

Yes, the Billikens seem to be improving, but they couldn’t get past Richmond.

Since getting smacked by Maine, New Hampshire has lost four straight. Magarity’s young coaching staff has got to get their team’s head back into the season.

That sigh of relief was the Catamounts breaking their 12-game skid. Their next opponent? The struggling Wildcats.

Yah, it’s looking like the MEAC is going to be between Norfolk State and Hampton. Circle March 5th on your calendar.

Texas Southern is lurking right behind Southern in the SWAC. They’ll meet each other for the second time this season on March 7th.

New Mexico State moves to 8-0 in the WAC.

That “other” team from New Mexico is making noise again. Sure, their out of conference record is for carp, but in-conference is not so bad. Let’s see what happens when the Lobos host Colorado State at the Pit this Wednesday.

Central Connecticut sits atop the NEC at 10-1. They’ll face their nearest challenger, Robert Morris, two games from now. The Colonials eeked out a win against Farleigh Dickinson, 69-68.

As anticipated, it was a battle between the Michigans, but Western staked out a lead and Central could never quite catch up.

It was an unanticipated battle between Western Carolina (1-7, Southern) and East Tennessee State (7-1 Southern), as the Catamounts gave the Buccaneers all they could handle. In the end, ETSU emerged victorious. Six games from now, they’ll have their second showdown against conference-leading Chattanooga.

The Hattiesburg American gives a shout out to Southern Miss head coach: McNelis outdoing herself this year

Here’s the deal: last season, Southern Miss did not beat perennial powerhouse Middle Tennessee more than once. It has defeated MTSU twice this year as well as Western Kentucky once, both of which have either been ranked in the Top 25 poll or received votes. Last season, Lee-McNelis never had to deal with quitters as she has this time around (senior Markia Nix and freshman Shakoa Edwards bailed on her early in the year). Last season, she had Jamierra Faulkner running things on the floor when things got dicey. No disrespect to Tamara Jones, Jerontay Clemons or any other players on the team this season, but none of them are Faulkner.

We know what’s coming up tomorrow…so what does one make of Geno getting so cranky with the play of his starters that he sits Morgan Tuck and Breanna Stewart four minutes into the game against Memphis? And they stay there all game. And UConn still wins by 50.

On the upcoming Connecticut-South Carolina game from David Cloninger:

This is the one we’ve all been waiting on.

Connecticut.

“It’s UConn,” Tiffany Mitchell shrugged after a pasting of Georgia on Thursday. “Now, finally, we’re ready to play them.”

It’s been circled since the idea was approached. Dawn Staley was working on the deal last year, one because it was getting increasingly harder to schedule good competition and two because she knew that this year would be an outstanding year, and what better litmus test could there be?

More from David: Gamecocks’ depth overwhelms foes

This is getting silly.

Alaina Coates, South Carolina’s best inside player and the key to establishing everything the Gamecocks try to do on offense, was suspended. USC was on the road, in a gym where it’s hardly ever played well. Players had already been talking about the next game, not this one.

And it still didn’t matter.

Why? Bianca Cuevas, this time.

Coach Staley is familiar with may of the UConn players because of her time with USA Basketball. From Jim Fuller at the New Haven Register: South Carolina’s Staley dishes on UConn’s Stewart and future Husky Collier

Scott Anderson at The State:

But on Monday, when UConn hosts USC at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, it’ll be the visitors ranked No. 1 and the Huskies No. 2.

Wrap your head around that for a moment.

The Gamecocks, unbeaten at 22-0, are considered the best team in the country as they prepare to take on the best program in the country.

That’s really amazing.

David Caraviello at the Post & Courier: Anticipation runs high for both No. 2 UConn, No. 1 USC

Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma earned his 900th career victory Tuesday, but there was little drama in what quickly become another rout of another overmatched conference opponent. The real anticipation bubbled through the crowd whenever the video boards at Hartford’s XL Center promoted Monday’s game in Storrs against No. 1 South Carolina — even though it’s been sold-out for weeks.

Lori Riley at the Courant: Dawn Staley Says South Carolina Playing UConn, Not ‘What’s In Rafters’

“You can’t come into a basketball game and play the nine basketball championship [banners] hanging from the rafters,” Staley said Friday on a conference call. “You can’t think that way, because you’ve already lost the game. We play in one of the toughest conferences in the country, we have to think that way. It’ll overwhelm you if you try to play what’s up in the rafters.”

From ESPN’s MC Barrett: Key stats: South Carolina at UConn

The two best teams in the nation square off Monday (ESPN/WatchESPN, 8 p.m. ET) when top-ranked South Carolina takes on second-ranked Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion. For the undefeated Gamecocks, it’s an opportunity to keep their perfect season alive and earn the program’s first win against UConn. But the Huskies, who have been nothing short of unstoppable since their loss to Stanford on Nov. 17, have their eyes set to a return to No. 1 and on a third consecutive national title.

From Scott Michaux: Top-ranked South Carolina women face toughest test yet in No. 2 UConn

John Altavilla: Underestimate South Carolina? Not A Chance

Among the phenomenon Geno Auriemma has adapted to during the last 20 of his 30 years at UConn has been weathering the possible impact of approaching storms.

As it relates to Monday at Gampel Pavilion, it’s not about how much snow may fall, but how  much importance is being attached to the Huskies game with unbeaten and top-ranked South Carolina.

“I couldn’t even tell you how many times we’ve been in this situation, 1 vs. 2, but it’s been frequent,” Auriemma said. “And it’s occurred over many years, with many different teams, sometimes on the road, other times at home, with many different teams and coaches.

Game preview by DoggyDaddy:

South Carolina come into this game undefeated at 22-0. Their OOC schedule was pretty weak with only two games against ranked teams, defeating No. 22 (at the time) Syracuse 67-63 and No. 9 Duke 51-50. They also had a tough outing against the real USC winning 69-61. They have met a few ranked teams in their conference schedule, beating No. 10 Kentucky 68-60, No.12 Texas A&M 79-61, and now No. 22 Georgia 58-35 in their last game.

UConn comes into this game on a 21 game winning streak after beating Memphis. UConn played (and lost) to No. 6 Stanford, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 25 DePaul, and No.10 Duke. While the conference is weak, South Florida is a top 25 RPI team.    

Both Geno and Dawn are doing their best to motivate their players. Dawn sat one of her stars for breaking what was probably a nothing team rule. She used it to show she will sit you so “don’t screw up”. And she wants Coates to play angry.  

Jere’ from the Times looks ahead (waaaaay ahead?): After Geno Auriemma’s Reign, UConn Could Lose Clout

South Carolina travels to Connecticut on Monday night for a meeting of the top two N.C.A.A. women’s basketball teams. The matchup will tell us something about the present and raise a thorny question about the future.

In this turbulent, uncertain period of college sports, how long can UConn sustain its dominance as one of the few women’s basketball powers not affiliated with a Power 5 football conference? The reflexive answer for many is: for as long as Geno Auriemma remains head coach.

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