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Notre Dame v. Louisville, 2pm ESPN2. Lobo: U of L women ‘absolutely’ could top Irish

“It’s kind of been fun watching them reach what people kind of expected from them on the outside early in the year,” Lobo said of U of L. “They’re just coming together. Young team – Coach Walz, I think it takes some time to learn his system, especially on the defensive end. But they’ve turned into a team that’s really fun to watch.

TAMU v. Tennessee, 4pm ESPN.

Yesterday:

Nice program win for Temple as they upset ranked conference-mate #19 USF with a 24-10 fourth quarter surge.

A put-back from senior Erica Covile with one second on the clock gave the Temple women’s basketball team a 68-66 upset victory over #19/17 USF on Saturday afternoon at the Liacouras Center. The win was the program’s first over a nationally-ranked opponent since February 25, 2009 when the Owls topped #13 Xavier, 74-65. The Owls move into sole posession of second place in The American with a 9-2 conference mark, 15-7 overall. The Bulls dip to 16-6, 9-3 in conference play.

Green Bay has turned back all comers, but the teams chasing them keep on wackin’ each other on the head: Detroit takes down the Penguins, 69-68, on a(nother) last second shot.

The Patriot looks more and more like it’s going to be a great showdown between Bucknell and Army.

Looking at the America East and seeing the Feb. 14th game between Albany (congrats to Shereesha Richards, the all-time leading scorer in school history) and Maine as a fun day to be a basketball fan.

Gotta love me some inter-conference rivalry. Down 16, Robert Morris made sure that Bryant didn’t sail through the NEC unscathed.

I warned ya! The Hatters take down Jacksonville, 66-61.

Ooooo! Debbie, did you catch this great match up? Montana State outlasted Sacramento State, 116-99. That’s the most points the Bobcats have scored. Speaking of the Bobcats, wonder how the team will be impacted by the firing of the AD.

Doink! BYU says, “Back, you Gaels, BACK!” and sends Saint Mary’s to a 65-44 loss,65-44 loss, securing sole possession of the top spot in the WCC.

“I’m really proud of the girls,” BYU head coach Jeff Judkins said. “I think this was one of the best games we played all year, and the win is a huge victory for our program. We started the game strong and made a great effort defensively, especially in the first quarter. Our defense really set the tone for the rest of the game. We had incredible play from our guards. Kenzi, Lexi and Kylie all played wonderfully, and really let their shots come to them.”

San Diego lurks at 11-2 in the conference.

Colorado State is now at 10-0 in the Mountain West… and Fresno State is at 9-1.

Honestly, kids, if you’re going to go three overtimes, you really should have accumulated more than 66 points for the win. (Morgan State over Savannah State).

Bowling Green had a great third quarter...but Central Michigan punched back with a better fourth. Chips win at the buzzer, 76-75, and move to 9-2 in the MAC.

C-USA’s going to be fun: the two top teams went at it, and UTEP emerged victorious, outscoring the Hilltoppers by 10 in the final quarter.

So, the Big South is no longer a walk in the park: UNC-Asheville is now 11-2 in conference, Gardner-Webb is finding its sea legs and, of course, there’s Liberty.

It was iffish in the beginning, but Abilene Christian gathered themselves for a final push to earn a win against Southeastern Louisiana.

Yup, I see you, Central Arkansas, now 9-1 in the Southland.

And that’s Arkansas State undefeated in Sunbelt Conference play. The Red Wolves are 12-0 in Sun Belt play for the first time in school history and extended its school-record home winning streak to 22.

Mine! Tennessee-Martin is not going to give the OVC to SIU-Edwardsville (yet?). Skyhawks win, 85-79, with a fourth quarter comeback.

FINALLY! And what a way to do it: Norfolk State earned its first win of the season… in DOUBLE overtime. (Air Force – your turn.)

For a team that has faced more than its share of adversity all year, what was a little more on Saturday?

The Spartan women’s basketball team lost a seven-point lead with three minutes left in regulation and had five players, including a trio of starters, foul out. But none of it was enough to prevent NSU from earning its first victory of the year, a 110-108 marathon win in double overtime over Howard at Burr Gymnasium.

 

Monday

#5 Maryland v. Ohio State, 9pm ESPN2

About that “other game” on Monday, NutsandBolts’ Jeffrey Newholm:

Yes, South Carolina has arrived as a national power in women’s basketball. Monday evening the #1 ranked Huskies, winners of 59 games in a row, will come to Colonial Life Arena in Columbia in the Gamecock’s first ever sold out game at the 18,000 seat venue. It’s the biggest home game in the history of USC, also undefeated and the #2 team in the country. The Super Bowl may be Sunday but die-hard women’s basketball fans may be looking forward to this game even more. As I usually do for big game previews, I’ll look at this game from every angle, then pick a winner.

From Sue/Jim Clark: No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 2 South Carolina: Geno Auriemma says he just wants a good game

Auriemma was effusive in his praise of the Gamecocks and their ascendance to the top of women’s basketball. His focus, however, was on All-American senior Tiffany Mitchell.

“Any time you start a program going in the right direction, you can point to why,” Auriemma said. “I think everybody pointed to the A’ja Wilson signing at South Carolina as being a significant milestone, but they wouldn’t be in a position to sign somebody like A’ja Wilson if Tiffany Mitchell hadn’t already been there and done what she’s done and how she’s done it.”

And more:

Auriemma Sees Post Play Edge For South Carolina, Courant

UConn’s next great rival? Maybe South Carolina, if the Gamecocks can topple No. 1, Charleston Post and Courier

Mitchell in, Dozier out for Gamecocks’ clash with top-ranked UConn, Post and Courier

Gamecocks trying to emulate top dogs, The State

Injured South Carolina’s Mitchell Expects to Play vs. UConn, AP article from WLTX

Michaux: South Carolina says it’s ready for UConn, The Augusta Chronicle

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A last look at the biggest questions – NCAA tournament bracket will be unveiled on ESPN/WatchESPN at 7 ET Monday

Not a lot of “questions” coming out of yesterday’s fun final day for the 2014 regulars season.

OPA! Young (international) players brought it from both teams, but  senior Spanou really “filled it uuup”  against St. Francis (PA) to help lead Robert Morris to the NEC championship.

“It’s the perfect ending for our senior year,” Spanou said after being chosen the tournament MVP. “We wanted this since we came here as freshmen … I’m just really happy and really proud of the team. We overcome some tough stuff. We got the ring.”

Saddled with three fouls in the first half, Wright State’s Kim Demmings came out in the second half like a fearless house-afire. Teamed with Tay’ler Mingo, and a defense that forced steal after steal after steal (the Raiders forced 24) and did what they’d never done before: Win on Green Bay’s home court. Which also meant the go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

“It feels good, it’s obviously a feeling we’ve never had, so I don’t know how the ride back’s going to after a win,” said Wright State coach Mike Bradbury. “Probably better than the loss.”

James Madison made quick work of the Blue Hens on their way to the CAA championship. Lady Swish called this coach Kenny Brooks’ best JMU team – even better than the Dawn Evans era. Looking forward to seeing what they can do in the tournament.

“Their rebounding and our turnovers killed us,” Delaware head coach Martin said. “We rushed a lot on offense, and that’s because we were anxious and in a hurry. But even more important than that were their second-chance opportunities. They rebound the ball so well. They always have. They’ve got a tremendously athletic team and they get to the boards quicker than anybody in the CAA, and we didn’t put a body on them like we were going to have to.”

Fierce defense (they held the Lumberjacks to 32% shooting) and an unusual partnership produced great results for the Demons:

Two years ago, Northwestern State was 6-23 and brought in co-head coaches Brooke and Scott Stoehr to try to turn around the program.

The husband and wife team needed just two years to see results.

Chelsea Rogers scored 16 points Sunday and Northwestern State pulled away in the second half for a 62-44 victory over Stephen F. Austin in the Southland Conference championship, earning the Demons’ first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2004.

 Their dominant win over Drake means Wichita State is goin’ dancin’ – and so is their coach, Jody Adams:

Her slick disco-like gyrations brought a scream of delight from the players. “I only do it after championships,” Adams said. “It’s got to be for something special.”

“It was better the way she did it last year,” Alex Harden said. “But at least we made her do it again this time.”

I called it, if I do say so myself. Great game between two fierce rivals and, as it should be, it took overtime to separate the two: FGCU edged Stetson by two to with the Atlantic Sun title and an automatic bid to the tourney:

We’re there,” Smesko said. “And we’re going to prepare to win. We’re not going there being happy with the fact that we got there. We plan on representing the A-Sun and FGCU really well.”

Both have the same record, and it would be nice if the Committee could find a way to honor the Hatters’ season instead of offering a token tip o’ the hat to some “Big” conference team.

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In the Southern, Chattanooga has returned to it traditional conference dominance.

Speaking of Southern, they’re atop the SWAC, but Texas Southern is lurking. Their first matchup went to OT and was a 2pt win for the Jaguars. Southern will host T.S. for their final conference game of the season. The Jags will have a chance to avenge their only in-confernce loss (Alcorn State) March 1st.

Hampton rules the MEAC and, though Coppin State put up a better fight the second time around, it doesn’t appear that anyone will threaten the Pirates. That being said, never underestimate the power of a rivalry (Hello, Howard?).

Yes, it’s slow climb to relevancy, and it is the NEC, but St. Francis (NY) took down traditional powerhouse St. Francis (PA), 90-76, to equal the program’s record for victories. The NEC leaders are the Robert Morris Colonials (which SF/NY took to double-overtime) with a multi-national team: Greece, France, Italy, Spain and the Democratic Republic of Congo are all represented on their roster.

The race to the finish in the MAC’s going to be fun: Central Michigan is 11-0 and Bowling Green is 10-1. The Chippewas gave the Falcons their only loss (at CMU, in OT, 82-79). They meet again Feb 19th.

Ditto with the MAAC. Iona is 13-1 (Rider!!?? – in OT) and Marist is 13-2 (losses to Iona and, rather surprisingly, Fairfield). They’ll close out conference play against each other on March 2nd.

How much is the ACC enjoying the addition of Notre Dame? The Irish are making mincemeat of their opponents and are perched confidently atop the conference. Coach McGraw’s win against Syracuse tied her with North Carolina State Kay Yow for 11th place in career wins (737-258).

Vroom! That’s the sound of James Madison racing to the top of the CAA. Don’t know that anyone else can put up with the Dukes.

Zap! That’s the sound of the Wichita State Shockers (11-0) taking control of the MVC. The Sycamores are in second place (still wonder what happened at Indiana State way back when) at 7-3.

The Danes rule the America East, but hello! Congrats to coach Magarity, who’s got New Hampshire in second.

I’m not sayin’ nuthin’ about the A10, ’cause it’s a hot mess: Flyers, Bonnies, Rams, Dukes…. sort it out folks!

Ditto with the Horizon!

Who knows what’s true in the Atlantic Sun. It’s the Hatters and the Eagles both with one conference loss, but Stetson’s was courtesy of FGCU (72-56). The Eagles lost to Northern Kentucky (8-3), 63-43.

The Eagles of Winthrop (12-3) are having a nice season, the result being they’re perched at #1 in the Big South.  They’ll meet High Point (11-3) again Feb. 27th, where the Panthers will try and exact some measure of revenge for their earlier 79-72  loss.

Typical C-USA, even with newcomer MTSU: It’s the Blue Raiders, East Carolina, UTEP and Tulane beating each other up.

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before the second half of last night’s game, you might have heard this.

That was the sound of Indy girl Kelly Faris revving up to take over the game.

Consider what Rebecca Lobo wrote in her preview piece, Duke ready for big stage:

Chelsea Gray

I haven’t seen a better passer in the open floor than Duke’s Chelsea Gray. The junior point guard has superb vision and strength to make passes that others cannot. She already has more than 100 assists on the season, and many have come from no-look and highlight-reel passes. She has tallied two triple-doubles already this season and a 15-assist game (versus Clemson). If you haven’t seen her play, it’s worth tuning in to this game just to check out Gray.

Now consider what Graham wrote after witnessing Ms. Gray’s encounter with Ms. Faris: Faris delivers ‘one for the ages’: Huskies win with decisive second half, hand Duke its first loss of season

Faris finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Duke point guard Chelsea Gray — who spent a good portion of the night the subject of closer attention from Faris than President Obama received from his Secret Service detail during the day’s inauguration events in Washington, D.C. — finished with two points on six shots, four turnovers and a look of incalculable frustration.

Indeed, the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. They never do with Faris.

The interesting game we saw unfold in the first half turned into a Faris clinic on defense, offense and intensity. The end result? A two-point game turned into a 30-point blowout.

Mel was there to witness (ONE “s” Mel, ONE “s”): Faris solidifies star status as No. 3 Huskies rout No. 4 Blue Devils

“There have been a lot of great players and legends play in this building wearing the Connecticut uniform,” continued Auriemma, whose seven NCAA titles is just one short of Tennessee coach emeritus Pat Summitt’s collection. “But I don’t know if anyone has ever represented themselves, their family, and the University of Connecticut the way Kelly did tonight.

“I know there’s a lot of players out there that are really good … there’s a lot of All-Americans but man oh man, that was one for the ages right there.”

From Clay, we get: Duke takes another dive against UConn

In an epic second-half collapse, previously unbeaten No. 4 Duke unraveled like a cheap shirt, leaving nothing behind but shattered egos and yet another hammering at the hands of the unforgiving Huskies.

Of course, UConn is No. 3 for a reason – well, actually many reasons, but one of them is depth. In this game, for example, the Husky bench outscored the Duke bench 23-9; and two of the Blue Devil starters combined for four points.

Rob chimes in from DWHoops with a Nutshell and Analysis.

Areas For Improvement: Above all else, communication. A season’s worth of being slow to close on shooters, blocking out smaller teams and relying on talent instead of teamwork came back to haunt Duke in this game. They were thoroughly outplayed and outcoached, as UConn made a number of adjustments going into the second half while Duke basically kept doing the same thing. Coach McCallie was never able to find a way to stop the bleeding during the run and get her team’s attention.

In Michigan, the Wolverines were game, but the Lions were gamer. Penn State wins, 59-49.

“It was a quality team and they just wore us out,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “I guess that’s why they’re probably No. 8 and we’re probably No. 23 at this point because they had four more minutes than we did.”

Nice to see I didn’t manage to jinx Texas Southern — they easily handled Mississippi Valley State 58-47.

Stetson (school-record 11th consecutive victory) and FGCU were equally immune to the WHB jinx. (You can watch the Hatters/Eagles showdown at 7:05 Saturday, televised by Comcast Sports Southeast)  Ditto with Quinnipiac, which stifled St. Francis (PA) in the first half and then secured a 85-69 victory.

Obviously, by not mentioning them, I assured the Wichita State a 70-51 victory over Drake. The Shockers are now 5-0 in the MVC.

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Texas senior Cokie Reed and junior Chelsea Bass retire from basketball

On the opposite side of the spectrum, looks like Duke commit Becca Greenwell took a little inspiration from the FGCU Eagles — making 17 three-pointers in a game. Oh, and so did a high school team: Michigan girls basketball squad sets new state record with incredible 22 made 3-pointers)

How’s Kim doing at her new gig in Michigan? It’s still early, but consider this: Women’s basketball ranked for first time since 2002

Their in-state rivals won their first Big 10 game of the season.

It ain’t easy being a Buckeye these days: They took Purdue to three OTs but,  their Valiant effort ends in defeat

It ain’t easy being a Ute, neither: Cold-shooting Utah loses to No. 23 Colorado

Make that “Hatters 6-0 in the A-Sun.”

Ditto with the 3-happy Eagles.

Got a little WATN? for ya: Usha Gilmore Named New Women’s Basketball Coach

And here’s a little, “You Stay Put” for ya: Silver Stars head coach accepts contract extension

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Baylor: Kidnap Odyssey Sims

UConn: Take Olivia’s advice and “Get Physical”

Stanford: Smother Chiney.

Cal learned from their home court lost to Stanford, went in to Maples and broke a couple of impressive Cardinal streaks as they stifled Stanford and got coach Gottlieb a sweet win. (Doesn’t she look like she’s just out of college?)

Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb has tapped Tara VanDerveer’s basketball brain on more than one occasion.

One question she has asked the Hall of Famer, for example, is how VanDerveer has always been so good at making opposing teams uncomfortable, taking away the things they do best?

And then on Sunday, Gottlieb’s Bears used that advice against the No. 5 Cardinal.

BTW, that puts UCLA in the top spot in the PAC12.

Florida made Tennessee reeeeeeally uncomfortable, but the Vols used OT free throws to escape with a win.

I’m not going to think about the South Carolina – Georgia game and you can’t make me.

A little reality for Auburn, as they were rolled by TAMU.

Oklahoma State kept Texas 0-fer in the Big 12.

Dayton showed Butler the door, 82-39.

Kansas was no match for Baylor, as Griner went for 33.

Hmmmm… Quinnipiac is 3-0 in the NEC.

That’s BU at 4-0 in the Am. East.

FGCU sure loves their three’s!

In the battle of the H‘s, Hampton squeaked by Howard to stay undefeated in the MEAC.

D’em Jackwabbits are undefeated in the Summit.

D’em Hatters are undefeated in the A-Sun.

D’em Sugar Bears are undefeated in the Southland.

D’em Hilltoppers are now at 6-1 in the Sun Belt.

That “squeak” was Cal Poly escaping Pacific in triple OT, 96-95. That game photo says it all.

Yes, Beth is no longer there, but it’s still VCU, and it’s still a nice win for the Billikens: Saint Louis won its A-10 opener for the first time since defeating Fordham in the 2007-08 season

Louisville had to work far too hard to beat Providence. Next up for them: UConn, who soared over the Eagles.

How important is Ellenberg to Oklahoma? Wicked important.

Speaking of wicked important, Graham catches up with Toledo’s Naama Shafir

Amidst more humble, if quintessentially Midwestern, surroundings, Toledo beat Bowling Green 48-38 in a game far more entertaining than the final score suggested. A redshirt senior from Israel who wasn’t about to lose what might be her last appearance in that big game led the Rockets with 23 points.

Ranked No. 27 in the first official RPI release and receiving votes in one of the major polls when the week began (in addition, pardon the plug, to sitting eighth in espnW’s mid-major poll), Toledo came into Sunday’s game on the heels of a loss at home against Central Michigan that will likely cost them dearly in those measures of national recognition. A potential 0-2 conference record after a 12-1 start to the season hung heavy over their heads, all the more considering Bowling Green was 60-5 at home in MAC play over the past eight-plus seasons prior to Sunday.

Shafir was supposed to be playing professionally by now, but an ACL injury last season delayed her departure. It also saved the Rockets on Sunday. In a game that was exactly as physical, without being dirty, as could be expected in an Ohio derby, Shafir hit long jumpers and short pull-ups, finished drives and sought contact to get to the free throw line.

The Terps’ Thomas is espnW’s player of week and Michelle and Mechelle do the video thing.

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