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that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

Gene Wang at the Washington Post: Connecticut routs Syracuse, wins historic fourth straight NCAA title

From the moment she arrived to play basketball for Connecticut four years ago, Breanna Stewart aimed to set herself apart from anyone in the history of the sport. At the top of her list of goals was playing for the first women’s team to win four national championships in as many years. 

Following a masterful performance in Tuesday night’s 82-51 victory over Syracuse in the NCAA tournament final, Stewart not only made good on her unprecedented aspirations but elevated the top-seeded Huskies into exclusive company. 

Syracuse.com: Connecticut smothers Syracuse to win 4th straight NCAA women’s basketball title

Syracuse women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman: We’ll get the next Breanna Stewart

Hillsman may have lost an NCAA championship game to Connecticut on Tuesday, but he clearly retained all his confidence.

And that’s probably warranted.

His success in recruiting great players was on full display in the Orange’s run to the title game.

While he missed on Stewart coming out of Cicero-North Syracuse four years ago, heading into this offseason the spotlight of the program’s first-ever Final Four should give Hillsman an even easier time getting an audience with the handful of difference-makers coming out of high school basketball every year.

Bud Poliquin: Syracuse women’s basketball may have been outplayed and outclassed, but it wasn’t out-fought

Before this one had even begun, Quentin Hillsman was working it, and working it hard.

“Some of our players have played against them and I’ve coached against them numerous times,” he’d announced … and the “them” in the equation were the Connecticut Huskies. “I’ve been on every possible end of the spectrum of a UConn game — a regular-season game, a Big East Tournament game, on Senior Night at their place. I’ve been in every possible situation against them.”

Well, not exactly. At least not going into Tuesday evening. Because it wasn’t until then that Hillsman and his Syracuse women’s basketball team walked into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and entered a whole ‘nother realm

More Lindsay: Proud Syracuse women’s basketball bows to Connecticut, envisions path to its own title

“I thought in spurts we played pretty good,” Hillsman said. “We just had some troubles (in execution). But the troubles come from UConn.. They’re just a great basketball team. I’m not shocked by how good they are. I’m not shocked about the things they did in the game. We competed. We definitely didn’t play scared. It was a very tough basketball game and I thought our kids left it all on the floor.”

Jim Fuller, New Haven Register: UConn women win fourth straight national championship, 11th overall

“There are three key ingredients that go into this kind of success,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said as he pointed to Tuck, Stewart and Jefferson. “When you have players like these three and the kind of individuals that they are, the kind of character that they have, the way they conduct themselves every day, I have never been around a better group of great players that love the game, appreciate the game, love their teammates. They have done something that obviously never has been done better so it means they are really good.”

Graham: UConn’s trio of seniors goes out with class

It was the day before her class would attempt to make history by winning a fourth consecutive national championship, and Connecticut senior Moriah Jefferson was trying to explain why perceptions of her and her classmates are drawn from incomplete information.

Morgan Tuck may look calm and composed on the court, a model of subtle efficiency juxtaposed against Jefferson’s perpetual motion or Breanna Stewart’s long-limbed canter. But that, Jefferson noted, obscures an inner wild child loud enough behind closed doors to carry through the walls.

Jefferson acknowledged, too, that despite the speed with which she plays, she is known as “Grandma” to her teammates for reasons that have more to do with demeanor than age. The hummingbird activity slows to a Texas amble when the sneakers come off.

Howard Megdal at Vice: THE UCONN WOMEN TAKE THEIR HISTORIC, INEVITABLE CROWN

After answering questions at the postgame podium, Sykes took a long, slow walk down the corridors of Bankers Life Arena, eventually ending up in the visitors’ locker room. Weary from a full season of drives and spills, she asked, “You mind if I sit down?” No one did, and she wearily settled into a chair in front of her locker, one leg extended. Her team had been routed, but she had started to find perspective on it before the game even ended, while standing on the sideline. The realization came as the confetti began to fall and both pep bands began to play.

“I was just taking in those last few seconds on the clock to realize what we’ve accomplished this year,” Sykes said. “You see the clock winding down, and you realize that you lost the game, but at the same time you think in a positive mindset, too—that gives you ammunition to get back to that spot. And we’re going to forever remember this feeling. And next season we want to get back here so we can change that feeling and know how it feels to win a national championship.” Sykes, it should be said, was the exception. It’s really hard to take the long view as a player who is used to winning, and has just lost by so much, so quickly.

WaPo’s Des Bieier: Breanna Stewart’s U-Conn. career was about as close to perfect as it gets

Let’s take a moment to appreciate a uniquely successful college basketball career, one that ended in a remarkably appropriate way. With her Connecticut Huskies winning the NCAA title Tuesday, Breanna Stewart completed a near-perfect run, and her final act came against an unlikely opponent that just happened to be her hometown team.

Mechelle: With fourth title in hand, Stewart delivers

“When you feel the most satisfied, when you’ve done all that you can do,” Stewart said, “when you’re working this hard and performing at that level, there’s nothing else that can be asked of you. No matter, win or lose or anything, you’re putting it all out there. That’s what you want.”

Maybe the most remarkable part of this is that Stewart has made it look … well, almost mundane. Stewart, her teammates and UConn Nation were excited Tuesday, but for many sports fans, the conclusion of another perfect season — UConn’s sixth — was practically ho-hum.

Okay, so what was with that sword? USA Today’s Laken Litman explains Why the UConn seniors knighted each other after winning national championship

USA Today’s Luke Kerr-Dineen: Let’s appreciate UConn women’s basketball for what it is: A dynasty

The role parity plays in the NFL is hardly a taboo subject when people discuss the league’s popularity, and it’s not as if the New York Yankees escaped criticism when they were winning everything and paying its players handsomely for the pleasure.

The difference here is that not only did people linger on the negative side of that question, many never made it to the eventual conclusion that almost always follows: That dynasties should be celebrated because they offer casual fans an avenue into the sport that didn’t exist before.

Not a golf fan? That’s fine, but I bet you know who Tiger Woods is. You may not follow horse racing but I’d be shocked if you didn’t know what American Pharoah accomplished last year. You don’t have to be a UFC follower to know who Ronda Rousey is, or a boxing fan to understand that Mayweather-Pacquiao was a very big deal.

NCAA.com echo: UConn women’s basketball: How to appreciate the true dynasty of the Huskies

They are the Celtics in pony tails, and the Yankees in pink. They are the Canadiens without a penalty box, the Steelers without shoulder pads. They are UCLA, with two X chromosomes.

Their coach is John Wooden in a coed world. Except now, he has one more national championship.

And now that Breanna Stewart has crunched her last opponent and cut down her last net, what to think about the Connecticut Dynasty?

And more: UConn’s legacy cemented in history with 11th national championship

Swish Appeal: UConn’s Big 3: 4 years, 4 National Championships

Hartford Courant’s Jeff Jacobs: Senior Sweep — Savor The Huskies’ Big Moment

Basketball is Marcus Paige hitting an impossible shot with 4.6 seconds left and Kris Jenkins answering with a buzzer-beater for the ages.

Yet basketball, too, is John Wooden’s UCLA men of a half-century ago and Auriemma’s UConn women of Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

There is a memorable scene in the movie “Hoosiers” where Coach Dale has the boys measure the distance from under the backboard to the free-throw line and then again from the floor to the rim. Fifteen feet. Ten feet. “The exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory,” Dale said.

The message, of course, was no matter how big the moment or how colossal the challenge, the game is constant. The game is the same for everyone. For David. For Goliath. For Paige. For Jenkins. For Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton. For Diana TaurasiMaya Moore and Breanna Stewart.

Sue: Connecticut’s dominance leaves no doubt in 11th title win

Auriemma, who was emotional in a press conference before semifinals, said the three players left a legacy not only for the school, but for players who follow them.

“They’ve left an imprint on this game that’s going to last a really long time,” he said. “And I think it’s a blueprint for kids coming after them that if you want to know how to do it, they showed everybody how to do it. And they did it the right way. And they did it together and they did it with people that they love. And I’m really, really proud of them.”

Richard Deitsch at SI: Perfection: UConn’s Stewart leaves legacy as unparalleled winner

There were no Kris Jenkins or Marcus Paige moments tonight, no Ryan Arcidiacono hearing “Arch! Arch! Arch!” and flipping the ball back to his trail shooter for the shining moments of all shining moments. No, this was a clinical Connecticut victory, a cold-blooded dissection of Syracuse, which had a remarkable run to the final before getting eaten by a basketball Godzilla.

UConn is the champion of women’s basketball again in an 82–51 rout, but this one came with plenty of notables: The win vaulted the UConn senior class of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck to 151 career wins (and just five losses), the most victories for any class in the history of women’s basketball. The trio also ran the table in the NCAA tournament with 24 consecutive wins, a record that can only be matched but never topped. Oh, yes, there was also this: UConn coach Geno Auriemma won his 11th career national title, eclipsing legendary UCLA men’s coach John Wooden by one.

If you want to have an argument about women’s basketball…Taurasi, not Stewart, largely considered best UConn player ever

 You have to like a question with three choices and no wrong answers. But which one is the most right?

NCAA.com: UConn women’s basketball: Breanna Stewart makes case she’s the greatest ever with fourth title

If you saw the UConn bench go wild when that last shot went in, you may want to (see) read Lindsay Schnell’s piece: UCONN RESERVES BRIANA PULIDO & TIERNEY LAWLOR ON WHAT IT’S LIKE TO WALK ON WITH A DYNASTY

Briana “Polly” Pulido was about five minutes into her first walk-on workout with Connecticut assistant women’s basketball coach Shea Ralph in the fall of 2013 when she had a thought she couldn’t shake 

What the hell did I get myself into? 

It’s a question she still battles, she says, though not as much anymore. As one of two walk-ons for the Huskies, who go for an unprecedented four-peat tonight in the women’s national title game, Pulido knew what she had gotten herself into, and why. It’s cliché, but true, she says, that she wanted to be part of something special.

Harvey, NY Times “On Basketball”: A Team Sets a High Bar, and Then Surpasses It Yet Again

Did you catch the audio of Mechelle on WNYC: What UConn’s Success Means for Women’s Basketball

How about NPR’s Frank Deford: It’s Time To Celebrate The UConn Women’s Basketball Team

Mechelle: Auriemma passes Wooden with 11th title

Why has Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma won so many national championships? There are multiple intersecting specific reasons that have helped in the construction of the Huskies’ women’s basketball dynasty that claimed its 11th NCAA title, all under Auriemma, on Tuesday. But there is also one overriding factor.

Which is this: Some people are exceptionally great at what they do.

Why is Mark Zuckerberg a gazillionaire? Why has Meryl Streep earned 19 Academy Award nominations? Why do the Beatles remain the best-selling musical artists of all time, even 46 years after they broke up?

The big “why” for the extreme end of greatness is always an extreme talent. Then there are other variables: opportunity, geography, timeliness, an ability to seize the moment.

From the Indy Star: and UConn’s dominance continues to be worthy of our celebration and KRAVITZ: Step aside, John Wooden and UCLA; make room for UConn and Auriemma

“The first thing I thought about (Monday) night, when you told me you would ask me that question if we won, was last night, there were something like 20-some of my former players, and we were all in one room and I just remember taking a step back and looking at all of them and thinking, ‘This is just an unbelievable scene’,” Auriemma said. “And they’re all here today. And what those 11 titles mean to me is how many great players I’ve had a chance to coach and how many great people have come through the program. 
 
“It doesn’t matter whose name I’m above, whose name I’m under or next to, as long as I have those names and those players in my memory, I’m good.”

More audio on Dan Patrick: Geno Auriemma says he hates John Wooden comparison

ESPN’s Front Row offers BTS of ESPN at NCAA Women’s National Championship

American Athletic Conference offers: UConn Women’s Basketball Captures Perfect 38-0 Season

In their own words: NCAA post-game:

Other Indy stuff:

This past weekend, senior Mercedes Riggs headed to Indianapolis, Ind., for the NCAA Final Four.  Riggs was a part of the “So You Wanna Be A Coach” program put on by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).  A product of Lindon, Utah, Riggs stopped by to talk about her experience and what lies ahead in her career.

Yeah! NCAA to mull playing 3 women’s finals in same city again

“It really was a special moment for women’s basketball,” Auriemma said. “I hope it was a moment that everyone took in and appreciated and wants to do again. I talked to some of the coaches and players on those teams and they said they never experienced anything like this. And you know what? They deserve to. Those kids play just as hard, put in as much time and effort as our kids.”

The NCAA added a nice touch, having the players from Division II champion Lubbock Christian and Division III winner Thomas More hold the flag during the Division I title game. A moment they won’t forget anytime soon.

Something you might have missed: ‘Loudest ovation’ at NCAA game for Lauren Hill.

NICE! From the Seattle Times: A LOOK BACK – Huskies’ 2016 Final Four run

It was a season of firsts for the Washington women’s basketball team — a season in which UW finished just fifth in the Pac-12. But once the Huskies found their footing in the postseason, coach Mike Neighbors’ squad went on an improbable NCAA tournament run that culminated in a Final Four appearance. Here’s a look back at the Dawgs’ 2015-16 season and their journey to the Final Four.

Well deserved: Jacksonville Women’s hoops team to be recognized before Friday baseball game

Hofstra had a nice WNIT run: W.B. Mason Coaches Report With Krista Kilburn-Steveskey

WNBA news:

With Morgan Tuck declaring for the draft, follow excelle’s WNBA draft board here. Did I mention that Powers is doing the same? Aerial Powers on WNBA: ‘It’s the right opportunity’

On that draft list: Banham Reflects On Career, Looks Ahead To WNBA Draft

Didja read: WNBA President, Lisa M. Borders, Says NBA And WNBA Are Joined At The Hip and the Q&A: New WNBA commissioner Lisa Borders ’79 on her goals for the league

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SI/AP:  A few things to watch at the women’s championship game

Carl Adamec: Syracuse the final hurdle for Huskies, Stewart

As an eight-year-old living in North Syracuse, New York, Breanna Stewart took a ride downtown with her father in April, 2003, to watch the parade celebrating the Syracuse University men’s basketball team’s national championship.

And while Stewart loves a parade as much as anyone, the University of Connecticut senior standout does not want a repeat in her hometown later this month.

Jim Fuller: UConn seniors Jefferson, Stewart, Tuck look to win fourth national title

Blue Star Media: For Stewart and UConn seniors, a farewell title is all that remains

When Breanna Stewart, a gangly 6-foot-4 high school All-American from Syracuse, N.Y., arrived in the fall of 2012, regarded as the next great player in the college game, she made her goals crystal clear to her coaches.

In return, they held her to that objective. There would be no backing off, no change of heart or tamping down of her commitment.

If this is what she wanted, she needed to understand what it would take to achieve it.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant: Shea Ralph Has Been Living UConn Dream For 20 Years; ‘It’s Utopia, In Some Ways’

BTW – Syracuse.com has been coverin’ the hell outta this tournament/Syracuse’s run.

:-) Quentin Hillsman, fashion king: See Coach Q’s best 7 outfits in the last 7 years (photos)

Lindsay Kramer: Fearless Cornelia Fondren keeps coming up big for Syracuse women’s basketball

Syracuse University guard Maggie Morrison tagged her teammate, swing player Cornelia Fondren, with the nickname “Big Girl” out of sheer admiration.

Even though Fondren stands just 5-foot-8, she loves ripping into the lane to challenge opposing trees with her whirling drives.

Hence, Morrison saw Fondren as the Orange’s own big girl.

What does ‘Always Reppin’ mean to Syracuse, Connecticut women’s basketball players?

AP’s Michael Marot: Syracuse hoping for big payoff from run to championship game

When Brittney Sykes started playing AAU basketball, she didn’t even know where Syracuse was.

The women’s basketball program was almost as invisible to college fans.

Yet when it came to making her college choice, the 5-foot-9 guard bought the promise from coach Quentin Hillsman that she could be part of the solution by turning the Orange into a national contender. Mission accomplished.

AP Doug: UConn and Syracuse to meet for women’s championship

Auriemma referred to standout seniors Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck as he looked toward the title game.

”I don’t know what I can do to help them except keep reminding them all the time, ‘This is your spot, you’ve owned this spot for the last three years,”’ Auriemma said. ”Now there’s no guarantee you’re going to get it Tuesday night, but we’re not going in there Tuesday night hoping we win. Because these three (players) they’ve done more than that, it doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I don’t have to help them with that mentality.”

It’s not all roses: From the Indy Star’s Dana Benbow: 

The photo should be happy. Anyone who looks at it would think it is happy.

But it’s not. It’s chilling.

A gleeful Cassie Kerns, arms spread wide, jumping down the basketball court after her UConn team won the NCAA national title in 2009, her senior year.

The photo looks happy. It’s not.

At that moment, on that court after beating Louisville 76-54, Kerns was in a downward spiral of self-loathing.

Yup: Also from AP Doug: Negandhi, Lawson and Lobo have excellent chemistry on set

”Within the first weekend of the first year, I knew the chemistry was there,” Negandhi said. ”We didn’t have to think about trying to do anything. When you’re not thinking, that’s when you’re going to have your best stuff.”

The first weekend of the tournament is one of the most challenging in the business. With 32 games over 48 hours, it makes for long days. Potentially they could have to do 16 different halftime shows in a day if games don’t break right. It would be even tougher if they didn’t all get along so well.

BTW: UConn-Oregon State Semifinal Delivers Strong Overnight Rating

BTW2: Might get yelled at, but….FLASHBACK TIME

Congrats: Adia Barnes coming back to coach UA women. Flashback, too:

Reviewing her WNBA career since being drafted by Sacramento in 1998, Adia Barnes is characteristically frank. “A few years later, you wouldn’t think I’d even be in the league.”

Consider, in her first season Barnes played in every game – starting 16. Since then, she’s watched her playing time diminish as she’s been traded or waived by four different teams. Yet the 2002 season found Barnes in the starting lineup for the Seattle Storm.

On the same topic, from Lady Swish: #onlyinWBB do we give head jobs to men with no experience coaching women

We’re at the point in the season where coaches come and coaches go. And we remain amazed at the lengths some folks will go to put a men’s basketball assistant in charge of their women’s basketball program.
The latest example of the ol’ inside-the-athletic-department shuffle came, unfortunately, within our stomping grounds over at Norfolk State. A few weeks ago, the Spartans named men’s basketball assistant Larry Vickers head coach of the women’s team after a bizarre 11-game stretch in which he ran the women’s team while still assisting the men’s.

It didn’t go unnoticed in the WBB community.

And yes, Swoopes, there she is! Hall of Fame.
Speaking of USA Basketball: Howard at Excelle has VIDEO: Interview with 1976 USA Basketball women’s coach Billie Moore 

Ahem: ICYMI: autobiography “Catch A Star” reaches No. 9 on bestseller list for sports books!

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How much fun was THAT?

Upset 1: DePaul over Louisville, 73-72

Graham: Bruno ball does it again as DePaul reaches another Sweet 16 and  How DePaul knocked out third-seeded Louisville

DePaul wasn’t sure where it was going on the first possession of a second-round game against Louisville, confusion on the tip resulting in an over-and-back violation, but the Blue Demons know where they’re going now. The Sweet 16 awaits after a 73-72 win.

The Blue Demons found their bearings and roared to another hot first half in the tournament, then held on for dear life against the Cardinals and most of a crowd of 7,515 in the KFC Yum! Center.

Swish Appeal: 

“We’re not sitting completely engaged in the process, as I always tell them. You can’t cheat it.” Coach Walz discussed his team’s performance, “You cheat the process, you’re going to get beat. It might work for you for a while, but eventually it’s going to catch up with you. And that’s really what took place tonight.”

Jonathan Lintner: ‘50-50 call’ dooms U of L in DePaul defeat and  Cards’ comeback comes up short against DePaul

Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz presented his team two options heading into Sunday: Play better defense and move on to the Sweet 16, or pack up this season and start immediately working for the next.

The No. 3 seed Cardinals received the message too late in the going to salvage their NCAA tournament run…

Josh Abner, AP: DePaul beats Louisville 73-72 behind January’s 25 points

Jessica January’s strong start put her team ahead but it was her last point that sent DePaul to the Sweet 16.

Upset 2: Mississippi State over Michigan State
Michael Bonner, Lansing State Journal: Season ends in agony for MSU women

 A contest that included 51 fouls ended with an official review. Just not the review Michigan State desired.

The officials met at the scorer’s table as Mississippi State’s band played its fight song after a 74-72 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Spartans laid sprawled across the court in the disappointment of defeat.

Tommy Lopez, AP/WCBI.com: Mississippi State Women’s Basketball On To Sweet 16 After Win Over Michigan State

Mississippi State’s Breanna Richardson had made a grand total of two 3-pointers this season before catching a pass and launching a 20-footer in the most important minute of her team’s most important game.

There was never any hesitation. It looked good the entire way.

It went in.

And it was the defining play in fifth-seeded Mississippi State’s victory over No. 4 seed Michigan State.

Lady Bulldogs knock off Michigan State 74-72 in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

“I couldn’t be prouder today,” Mississippi State women’s head basketball coach Vic Schaefer. “We played a heck of a basketball game against an unbelievable opponent, Michigan State. They are a tremendous basketball team, well coached. They are resilient and tough. “I say all of that and our kids were a little bit more. I couldn’t be prouder of the toughness our kids showed today.”

Upset 3: Tennessee over Arizona State. A Phoenix Grows In Arizona?

Or, as Dan Fleser writes:

Tennessee blossomed in the desert Sunday night.

The Lady Vols summoned their best team effort of the season. They looked nothing like a No. 7 seed in a 75-64 NCAA tournament victory over No. 2 seed Arizona State at Wells Fargo Arena.

Diamond DeShields scored a game-high 24 points for Tennessee (21-13), which shot 51.8 percent from the floor (29-for-56) and never trailed after the first quarter.

Mechelle: 

A little less than a month after it looked as if Tennessee’s season was going down in infamy — with the possibility of the Lady Vols not making the NCAA tournament for the first time — they are instead headed back to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.

Tennessee has experienced a lot of lows in 2015-16, so the Lady Vols had to relish Sunday’s 75-64 upset of No. 2 seed Arizona State on the Sun Devils’ home court at Wells Fargo Arena.

Swish Appeal: Victory is Sweet (16): Deshields, Tennessee knockout ASU

Scott Mammoser, Examiner: Tennessee wins grueling NCAA second round game at Arizona State

For the 34th time in the 35-year history of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, the Sweet 16 will include the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. Coming in as the underdog, the seventh-seeded Lady Vols (21-13) won at second-seeded Arizona State (26-7) in the second round Sunday, 75-64, behind Diamond DeShields’ 24 points.

“Any time we had any kind of miscue, they took advantage of it in any way,” said ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne, whose team fell to Florida State in the Sweet 16 in 2015. “We did not play our best basketball. It was a great challenge and a fun game.”

No upset (but you were thinking it): Ohio State over West Virginia, 88-81

Mechelle: How Kelsey Mitchell went wild to lift Ohio State

Ohio State made it to the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in program history, but it took a huge effort from the Buckeyes sophomore guard Kelsey Mitchell. No surprise there: She specializes in that.

Mitchell scored 45 points as the No. 3 seed Buckeyes held off No. 6 seed West Virginia 88-81. It was the fourth-highest total in an NCAA tournament women’s game, following Drake’s Lorri Bauman with 50 in the 1982 Elite Eight, Texas Tech’s Sheryl Swoopes with 47 in the 1993 championship game, and Stanford’s Jayne Appel’s 46 in the 2009 regional final.

Eleven Warriors: 

Ohio State has a special basketball player that many are taking for granted. Sophomore Kelsey Mitchell is rewriting the Buckeye record books and somehow flying a bit under the radar on the greater OSU sports landscape.

It would be a lie to say Mitchell is doing it quietly, as she is quite well known by those who follow women’s hoops. But, compared to the big revenue sports, Mitchell’s media footprint isn’t nearly what her talents merit.

The Lantern: Ohio State women’s basketball capitalizes on West Virginia’s mistakes, punches ticket to Sweet 16

The Ohio State women’s basketball team nearly limped into the NCAA tournament following a pair of excruciating end-of-the-season overtime losses, a semifinal exit from the Big Ten tournament and an untimely injury to senior guard Ameryst Alston.

The odds of advancing deep in the NCAA tournament are usually unfavorable to teams that have problems pile up in March, but the Buckeyes have been resilient despite facing adversity. On Sunday afternoon at St. John Arena, the pressure was at its peak with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.

Despite a back-and-forth struggle with sixth-seeded West Virginia, the Mountaineers eventually fell victim to their plethora of turnovers, with the 27th and final one pounding the nail in their coffin.

Kelsey Mitchell’s 45 points lead Ohio State to first Sweet 16 since 2011

Mitchell’s 45 points lift Buckeyes past error-prone West Virginia

“It’s hard to guard somebody when they keep coming at you,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “It puts a lot of pressure on the referee because she comes right at you. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do as a defensive player. I don’t know, just stop? Hopefully they charge, but I don’t know what you’re supposed to do.

“We can’t let people go to the line 22 times. I’m not saying they were bad calls, I’m not saying that. It’s just tough to defend when someone comes straight at you off a drive.”

Can’t retire yet Jim Massie.

As seeded: Syracuse over Albany

Lindsay Kramer, Syracuse.com: Syracuse women’s basketball beats Albany to earn trip to NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

The Syracuse University women’s basketball team is going to its first NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in program history.

Syracuse (27-7) punched that ticket with a 76-59 win over Albany in a Sioux Falls Regional second-round game in the Carrier Dome.

Brittney Sykes led the way for SU with 24 while Alexis Peterson had 22.

TWC News: UAlbany Women’s Basketball Ends NCAA Tournament Run with Loss to Syracuse

“A lot of people didn’t believe we would make it this far,” senior Shereesha Richards said. “And we have we beat the odds. And it’s sad that we lost but we have accomplished so much this year and there’s more positive to look on then there is negative.”

Albany Times Union: UAlbany women’s season ends with 76-59 NCAA loss at Syracuse

The magical season for the University at Albany women’s basketball team has ended, and with it the careers of seniors Shereesha Richards and Erin Coughlin.

Syracuse overcame a sluggish start and forced UAlbany into 23 turnovers Sunday afternoon en route to a 76-59 victory over the Great Danes in a second-round game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in front of 3,832 at the Carrier Dome.

As seeded: Oregon State over St. Bonaventure, 69-40 (though the first half was if-ish for the Beavers).

Gina Mizell, Oregoninan: Oregon State cruises past St. Bonaventure 69-40 to advance to Sweet 16

It was over when: The Beavers scored the first seven points of the third quarter to quickly push its lead to 38-21. That only foreshadowed the dominant period to come for OSU, outscoring the Bonnies 21-4 as its advantage grew to as many as 27 points when freshman reserve Taylor Kalmer drilled a three-pointer in the final minute of the period.

Gary Horowitz, Statesman-Journal: OSU seniors secure Sweet 16 berth in final home game and Oregon State women heading to Sweet 16

“What a night,” OSU coach Scott Rueck said. “We’ve been waiting for this and for the opportunity. I’m so proud of this team. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

The memory of a painful second-round loss to Gonzaga at Gill last season was a source of motivation for OSU the entire season.

“It feels better this year for sure,” said senior guard Jamie Weisner, who scored a game-high 23 points. “I think last year at this time I was in the locker room crying. It was over.

Building the Dam: Oregon State Rolls On To Sweet 16

It was a grind early, as Oregon State shot terribly to start the game, making only 4 of their first 15 shots, including missing 7 in a row at one point, and though the Beavers never trailed, they only opened a 5 point, 13-8 lead when Marie Gulich got a put back basket at the buzzer.

But there were 2 key takeaways from the early going. Oregon State got balance, with points from 4 starters, Ruth Hamblin, Gabriella Hanson, Sidney Wiese, and Jamie Weisner in their first 4 baskets. It was an indication of the balance that would strain St. Bonaventure all evening.

Swish Appeal: Weisner’s ‘enormous presence’ looms large for OSU

Takin’ Care of Business!

Baylor stomped all over Auburn.

Stephen Hawkins, AP: Baylor women rout Auburn to make another Sweet 16

With Nina Davis open in the middle, everything went just as planned for the Baylor women. and they are going to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the eighth year in a row.

Davis scored a season high-matching 30 points, and freshman post Kalani Brown had 16 points as the Lady Bears beat the Auburn press all night while avoiding being trapped in an 84-52 victory Sunday.

WacoTrib: Lady Bears ease by Auburn

Matthew Stevens, Montgomery Advertiser: Unbearable! Baylor dominates Auburn 84-52 in NCAA Tournament

Baylor didn’t waste any time in ending all hope for an Auburn upset Sunday night.

The top seeded Lady Bears scored 19 of the first 21 points as Auburn lost 84-52 in a 2016 NCAA Tournament second round game at the Ferrell Center. The loss represented the largest margin of defeat for Auburn throughout the entire 2015-16 season.

South Carolina stomped all over Kansas State.

David Cloninger, The State: Mitchell super as Gamecocks beat Kansas State, head to Sweet 16

Didn’t think she’d leave that red cape home this time of year, did you? 

As she has throughout her career, South Carolina’s Tiffany Mitchell saved the Gamecocks’ day in a 73-47 rout of Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. 

The one they call “Superwoman” took over when SEC Player of the Year A’ja Wilson was on the bench with two quick fouls in the first quarter, scoring 16 first-half points and directing USC once more into the Sweet 16.

One by one, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley took her five seniors out for rim-rattling ovations from a crowd of 10,048.

“Because we’re playing our best basketball,” Staley said Sunday night after a 73-47 rout of Kansas State in a second-round NCAA Tournament game, “we afforded ourselves the chance to be able to salute and honor our seniors in that manner.”

We knew it was going to be a long shot. South Carolina came into this one with one loss all season, to top-ranked UConn (a game they lost by only 12 points). The Lady Gamecocks are GOOD, talented and well coached. And, thanks to NCAA venue procedure for women’s basketball, they even get to play at home. So the deck was already stacked.

That K-State was only down by five at the end of the first quarter was actually fairly impressive.

WNIT:

Ohio (MAC) over Virginia Tech (ACC), 64-57… reminder, the Bobcats won the regular season title…and this is their second WNIT win. Ever.

Virginia (ACC) over (and at) Rutgers (Big 10), 71-55. Pretty disappointing post-game comment from coach Stringer: “We should’ve just taken a forfeit.” Virginia highlights:

Temple (American) over (and at) Quinnipiac (MAAC), 64-62.

South Dakota (Summit) over (and at)  Banham Minnesota (Big 10), 101-89…reminder, the Coyotes won the regular season title.

 It’s a well-known fact that Rachel Banham has had one of the best careers that you can have, and that she alone can cause problems, but South Dakota wanted to prove that they were a formidable force, too.

They did just that, and now the Coyotes have a chance to get some revenge for an early-season loss against Northern Iowa.

Monday Games:

6:30: Indiana v. Notre Dame – Ready or not, Indiana gets shot at Notre Dame
6:30: Washington v. Maryland – Maryland, Washington: Opposites attract in 2nd round women’s matchup
6:30: Oklahoma v. Kentucky – Previewing the Sooners’ NCAA Tournament game vs. Kentucky
6:30: Florida State v. Texas A&M – Texas A&M’s Howard and FSU’s Thomas key in 2nd round matchup

9:00: UConn v. Duquesne – Duquesne coach Burt says key is not to let UConn ‘dominate your soul’,
9:00: Missouri v. Texas – Texas Aims to Climb Missouri’s Tall Wall
9:00: South Florida v. UCLA – UCLA women must slow down South Florida’s Courtney Williams in second round
9:00: South Dakota State v. Stanford – Michelle: Jackrabbits jump at chance to battle Stanford for Sweet 16 spot

Tulane v. Georgia Tech, 7PM
Wake Forest v. Florida Gulf Coast, 7PM
Ball State v. Saint Louis, 8PM
Tennessee-Martin v. Western Kentucky, 8PM
Arkansas State v. UTEP, 9PM
Utah v. Gonzaga, 9PM
Fresno State v. Oregon, 9PM

In other news:

WATN? Former WNBA Ball Handling Queen Shannon Bobbitt coming to town

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HISTORY

I know about Ora Mae Washington… but too many people do not. Thank you to Steven J. Niven at The Root for doing some much needed research and laying out some of her story. Queen of the Courts: How Ora Washington Helped Philly ‘Forget the Depression’ 

Philadelphians had little to cheer about in the winter of 1932. Over 250,000 people—a quarter of the workforce—were unemployed, many more were working part time, and thousands had lost their savings with the collapse of several banks. For black Philadelphians, the Great Depression was even worse. Only 13 percent enjoyed full-time employment, 45 percent were unemployed and 42 percent worked only part time. More than one-third of black families were on poor relief, and in one African-American neighborhood, two-thirds of the homes had no indoor plumbing and half had no central heating

But that February and March of 1932, amid the economic gloom and real suffering, black Philadelphians were gripped by a basketball tournament to determine the best African-American women’s team in the city, as well as the nation. The local black newspaper perhaps exaggerated in promising the matchup between the Germantown Hornets and the Philadelphia Tribunes would make the city “forget the Depression,” but the same ad was surely correct in describing the series as a battle between “two of the greatest girl players in the world”: Inez Patterson of the Tribunes and Ora Washington of the Hornets.

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The PAC 12 is the most interesting power conference (ya, the B12 is kinda fun, and the SEC sure was — before all of those devastating injuries.)

Arizona State stakes a claim to “we’re better than the competition we’ve plowed through on our way to a #10 ranking” by taking down #12 Stanford, 53-52. It wasn’t a particularly elegant game, but it did give the Sun Devils their first sweep of the Cardinal since 1984.

“Beating Stanford is just such a mental hurdle for our team,” Moos said. “When you can finally overcome beating Stanford, that’s when you know your team has reached mental toughness.”

Washington, who’s been on the edge of upsetting folks, did it against #7 Oregon State, 76-67.

“It’ll hit us tomorrow how big of a deal it was,” Washington coach Mike Neighbors said. “Right now it’s just good we bounced back from a tough two-game road swing.”

The Beavers were down a player, Gabby Hanson.

“Gabby’s our best perimeter defender and if you had to miss one game in the conference, this was not the one I would choose,” Rueck said. “Washington’s strength is their perimeter so we certainly missed her. I thought we played with a lot of heart tonight. We competed, it just wasn’t our night.”

Speaking of upsets, Cornell does it again: Penn loses first game at Palestra in over a year

Penn (11-7, 2-2 Ivy) struggled once again on offense, and Cornell (13-6, 4-1 Ivy) took great care of the ball to keep the Quakers from making up for it defensively. Penn turned it over 14 times and was only able to force the visitors into five miscues. 

“It just goes to show you how much they had control of this game,” coach Mike McLaughlin said of Cornell’s ball control. “We have to cause a little more havoc on defense. We gave up too many shots at the basket, there were too many breakdowns – mental breakdowns.”

Next up for Cornell: undefeated Princeton.

Minus their leading scorer (ankle), #19 Nebraska couldn’t overcome #21 Rutgers. It was old school Scarlet Knights, winning ugly, 46-43. While it won’t win any style points, it was the 177th win in the B1G Ten for coach C. Vivian Stringer, making her the winningest in the conference.

“I was shocked when they talked about it,” Stringer said after the game. “I didn’t even know anything about that…I was just trying to get through this game.”

Finally got that “mini-signature win, though it was also pretty style-free:” #25 Syracuse over #13 North Carolina, 61-56.

The two teams combined to go 13-for-55 from the 3-point line and Syracuse pulled out the win after only shooting 27 percent from the field.

Shhh… that’s New Mexico State at 7-0 in the WAC. There’s a familiar name coaching the Aggies: Mark Trakh is in his fourth year.

Okay, it wasn’t anything to write home about, but it’s nice the getting back into the rankings didn’t freak the Colonials out: George Washington wins 52-35 over Davidson. Didja see the article in the Times about the University?

OUCH: Wright State stomped all over the Penguins, 92-55 to earn a little revenge. Nice news on senior Courtney Boyd:

Boyd has faced tragedy, injuries and adversity over the last few years at Wright State. On Thursday, she showed signs of a comeback. 

WOWZA: It took three overtimes, but we got a Debbie Antonelli Special: New Orleans with the upset over McNeese State, 90-86. When the two teams played each other on the 31st, the Cowgirls won 82-58.

“We made a few adjustments in practice and many people did not understand the first time why we played zone. When we played McNeese the first time we forgot our rotations. We were ready tonight. Their words coming were We can and we will,” said Coach Keeshawn Davenport.

Well, lookee here: like the Pac-12, C-USA has got some competition at the top. Southern Miss takes down Middle Tennessee State in OT, 70-65.

Southern Miss enjoys the underdog label.

Especially against MTSU. The Lady Eagles knocked off the Lady Raiders for the second time this season — and the third time since MTSU joined Conference USA last season — with a 70-65 overtime win Thursday at Reed Green Coliseum.

For the third time in three weeks, Southern Miss’ women’s basketball team beat the league’s first-place team, sandwiching a win over Western Kentucky with the victories over MTSU.

Western Kentucky will face the Blue Raiders on the 21st. After that, it’s a race to the Conference Championship.

The West Coast Conference is still a three way battle between Gonzaga, BYU (win #300 for coach Judkins) and St. Mary’s… with San Diego knocking on the door. Gonzaga faces all three in the last three weeks of the regular season. St. Mary’s next faces feisty Pacific and their equally feisty point guard.

Think she’s too short, isn’t quick enough or can’t shoot.

Kristina Johnson would like nothing more than prove you wrong.

Though often the shortest player on the court, the 5-foot-5 senior point guard has contributed to the Pacific basketball team in ways that sometimes can’t be measured. Johnson brings controled fury and a team-first attitude to the Tigers, who host Saint Mary’s in an important West Coast Conference game at 2 p.m. today at Spanos Center.

See – there is no WBH curse! William & Mary (4-6, CAA) takes Drexel (8-2) into overtime… and comes away with the win, 72-68.

For the second straight game the William and Mary women’s basketball team prevailed in a double-overtime, dropping Drexel 72-68 in two extra sessions in Philadelphia on Friday night. Senior Jazmen Boone led five Tribe players in double-figures with a game-high 16 points. With the win, the Tribe, which won its fourth straight game, moved its record to 11-11, 5-6 in Colonial Athletic Association play, while the Dragons fall to 14-8, 8-3 in league action.

Wait. Maybe there is… the Salukis (5-5, Missouri Valley) take down Drake,  81-76. (They lost to the Bulldogs 81-66 in their previous matchup.)

 It was scene that hasn’t been witnessed at the SIU Arena for a long time — especially where women’s basketball is involved.

Dyana Pierre picked up teammate Rishonda Napier and carried her off the floor (Great photo -WHB) after the Salukis upset Drake 81-76. Napier scored 30 points as the Saluki women handed the Bulldogs their first conference loss of the year.

The victory was the twelfth of the year for the Salukis. SIU won just five games last year.

High Point stumbled against Presbyterian, 78-59, and are now three games behind Liberty in the Big South.

Upcoming games of interest:

SIUE women’s basketball at UT Martin. The Cougars, who earned their 9th straight, are 9-1 in the Ohio Valley. The Skyhawks are 10-0 in the OVC. A win today would make a program record conference start.

Rivalry rematch: FGCU v. Stetson.

The Atlantic Sun Conference believes its two flagship women’s basketball programs – FGCU and Stetson – have their best chance to make the NCAA tournament in the same season for the first time ever.

Both teams, of course, would much prefer to be the automatic qualifier.

In-state rivalry: Western Michigan v. Central Michigan.

Youth has not been a major characteristic of the Central Michigan University women’s basketball team in recent seasons.

Many of the teams that have played in the maroon and gold have featured a class of seniors blazing a trail for the freshmen to follow in the seasons to come. 

For this season’s freshmen, it is a different story.

Service rivalry: Army v. Navy.

Sunday games of interest:

A-10 rivals: Dayton v. #24 George Washington.

In-state rivalry: #20 Texas v. #3 Baylor.

In-state rivalry: Miami v. #9 FSU.

Wednesday marks the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 29th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and Florida State has several reasons to celebrate.

The last two years have seen an unprecedented run of success for FSU’s women’s programs. That includes a national championship for soccer, a best-ever regular season for volleyball, a Women’s College World Series appearance for softball and a current Top-10 ranking for basketball.

CAA rivals: Drexel v. James Madison. Coach Kenny Brooks just won his 300th.

America East old v. new: Hartford v. Maine.

Maine is currently riding its longest winning streak since it strung together 13-straight during the 2004-05 campaign. The Black Bears are coming off their biggest win of the year as they defeated the current #1 team in the conference, UAlbany, by a score of 52-44 back on Feb. 1. UAlbany, who leads the league in scoring (67.4 ppg) were held to its lowest total of the year in the loss to Maine. The win snapped a 10-game losing skid against the Great Danes dating back to 2010. 

SEC rivals: #17 Mississippi State v. #14 Texas A&M.

Big 10 rivals: #5 Maryland v. #19 Nebraska.

Though she’s 13 years retired, Maryland women’s basketball players call her “Coach.” At 70, Chris Weller still attends the games and even some workouts of the team she ran for 27 years.

Once, last year, she addressed the Terps after practice.

“I wanted them to know about the legacy we’ve followed,” said Brenda Frese, her successor.

The players got an earful.

She’s back: Versyp reinstates Moore

Foreign Flashback: Abrosimova Brought Magic To Storrs

Now back in Moscow, busier than ever, Svetlana Abrosimova remains a social media maven. She checks in with the world as often as time allows.

So it did not surprise her to learn that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the precocious three-point shooter from California, was about to knock her off the list of UConn’s Top 10 career scorers. She’d been reading about it and knew it was coming. .

And for those who remember the unique relationship Abrosimova still shares with Geno Auriemma, hearing that her congratulations to Mosqueda-Lewis was accompanied with a customary dig at her former UConn coach does not surprise.

“I could have scored a lot more if coach Auriemma didn’t make me play defense all the time,” Abrosimova tweeted.

Dueling Delphi’s: From Harvey Araton at the NY Times: Diana Taurasi Can Rest Easy, but W.N.B.A. Can’t

Taurasi’s decision was also an unavoidable commentary on the state of the professional game in the United States, just now short of two decades old, not far removed from its developmental cradle. The growth of the W.N.B.A. notwithstanding, its long-term forecast remains partly cloudy and it may never provide a lucrative, full-time living for its talent.

From Patricia Babcock McGraw: Taurasi’s decision to skip season isn’t a WNBA death sentence

When push comes to shove for aging WNBA stars, their overseas careers might get the push, and the WNBA might get the shove.

Doomsayers are predicting, well, doom for the WNBA, a mass exodus of its stars. Especially now that Taurasi has officially opened this can of worms.

But here’s what the WNBA has going for it: Loyalty. History. Location.

In other W news:

Delle Donne feeling good after “crazy” 2014 season

At Wednesday’s launch of their 10th anniversary celebrations, Elena Delle Donne showed why she’s been made the face of the Sky franchise. She was outgoing in her interactions with the 150 or so girls there for a sports expo, mingled easily with media and dignitaries and spoke strongly about the Sky’s present, future and what the franchise means for the Chicago sports landscape.

It was clear that the offseason has been good for Delle Donne after a 2014 season that was memorable for a lot of negative reasons.

Nothing like stoking an inter-city rivalry: 

Shavonte Zellous signed with Turkish basketball team Fenerbahce on Friday.

Zellous played last season for rival Galatasary, leading that team to the championship in both the domestic and Euroleague. She has been embroiled in a salary dispute for the past few months with that club.

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The story: “There’s no parity in women’s basketball.”

The truth:

Illinois over #17 Iowa, 73-61.

Pittsburgh over #5 North Carolina, 84-59.

Miami over #4 Notre Dame, 78-63.

I’m trying to decide which upset is most surprising.

Yes, Notre Dame was on the road, but lordy, they were down 20 at the half to a team whose “best” win of the season to date was… heck, it’ s hard to point to a “good” Miami win – they’ve lost to MTU, ASU and Tulane.

“You never like to lose, but we’re just so darn young sometimes that we needed maybe a kick in the pants to kind of say we need to come out ready,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “I don’t know mentally what they were thinking before the game but we were uncharacteristically bad in the first half. Credit their defense, that really set us back on our heels.”

That being said, one has to consider the impact (and back story) of the news that starting sophomore forward Taya Reimer, who did not travel with the team to Miami, is considering her future at the university.

Even without Xylina McDaniel, North Carolina’s loss to Pittsburgh makes me shake my head. It’s not just that it’s Pitt. (Blog followers know that they struggled early this season, losing to Duquesne, James Madison and Princeton, but they played #7 Louisville tough.) It’s the score. This wasn’t a close game.

Michigan was a big win for the Pitt women. 

Ohio State was a big win, too. 

Neither of those earlier victories — nor very many wins in the history of the program, for that matter — compare to Thursday’s 84-59 victory over No. 8 North Carolina at Petersen Events Center

The win was Pitt’s first against a ranked opponent in almost four years and was their third over a top-10 opponent. 

No, we haven’t been talking about Iowa a lot, but we have mentioned Illinois more than a few times, so perhaps you weren’t too surprised by the news that the Hawkeyes got taken down by Matt Bollant’s Illini.

Illinois finished the game on a 26-8 run and held No. 17 Iowa to only three field goals over the final 10 minutes of the game as the Fighting Illini pulled away for a 73-61 win at State Farm Center on Thursday. It marked the Orange and Blue’s second win over a ranked opponent this season and Illinois held Iowa to its second-lowest point total of the season. Illinois improves to 11-4 on the campaign, its best start in seven years, and 2-1 in Big Ten play.

Let’s start a new story: There’s no parity in men’s college basketball.

So, speaking of close games, I see that Duke escaped Syracuse by two. Is there something askew with the ACC traditional powers? (And, soon, ‘Cuse, sooon you’ve got to come out of these close losses with a win!)

Okay, I’m paying attention: MSU women make another piece of history

Stat stuffers don’t care how their lines in the final boxscore look. 

After all, if players who fill numerous columns with crooked numbers are doing their jobs, their team’s total in bold at the bottom of the page is going to be bigger than the opponent’s.

Dominique Dillingham’s numbers Thursday were far from the biggest on the final statistics for the No. 14 Mississippi State women’s basketball team’s 72-57 victory against Arkansas. But none of the 3,556 in attendance at Humphrey Coliseum would deny Dillingham had perhaps the biggest impact in helping MSU push its season-opening winning streak to 18. In the process, MSU made another piece of history in opening Southeastern Conference play 3-0 for the first time. 

Hey! Look who’s ranked! Western Kentucky! First time since the 1997-98 season.

‘‘It’s an awesome day for our program,’’ WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. ‘‘It gives me chills when you say that we’re ranked. It’s a great day for everyone that’s ever tied their shoe here or had to do with WKU in the past.’’

Anyone think that Ohio State is going to be scary good next year?

Yup, that’s #18 Arizona State winning, matching the program’s best start.

The Debbie Antonelli includes, of course, Sacramento State. This time they came out on top, 93-86.

In-conference play is killing San Francisco’s mojo.

It’s kinda feeling like, this year, the A-10 is George Washington’s to lose.

I’m not going to declare the Patriot League Lehigh’s until after they face American. Twice.

The Tigers roar in Graham’s mid-majors poll (and sit in the 22nd spot in the AP poll)

Courtney Banghart developed a standard response when asked about the outlook for her Princeton team this season, the first season the Tigers began coming off anything other than an NCAA tournament appearance since the fall of 2009, when every member of the current roster was in high school or even middle school.

It was a likable group of people, really likable. But she wasn’t sure they knew how hard it is to win.

“I just didn’t know if they actually had enough edge,” Banghart said. “If they hated losing — which is different, whether you hate losing more than you like winning, or you like winning more than you hate losing. I didn’t know if they were able to make the shift. Was this team really going to hate to lose and come with that edge?”

They must really hate losing. Because they can’t stop winning.

Steve Megargee of the AP give “the other majors” some love:

The first half of the women’s basketball season produced plenty of memorable moments for mid-major programs.

Chattanooga beat Tennessee and Stanford for its first two wins over top-10 opponents in school history. Princeton is ranked 22nd and Western Kentucky is 25th. Green Bay (11-3) was in the Top 25 earlier this season.

“I think it’s great for the game, for women’s basketball,” Western Kentucky coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “That’s what we want to have the opportunity to do, to just continue to keep working and building, so … we don’t have to be in a position where we have to win our conference (tournament) to get to the NCAA.”

Michelle writes about those “other” Huskies, and their peach of a player, Plum: Plum paces Washington to 12-2 start – Huskies set to take on No. 15 Stanford on Friday, Cal on Sunday

As a freshman last season, Kelsey Plum confesses, she sometimes felt “dumb,” even if the stat sheet didn’t show it.

“At least in terms of making plays,” the University of Washington sophomore guard said. “I guessed a lot.”

Plum seems to have found the right answers pretty quickly. The nation’s second-leading scorer at 25.0 points a game, Plum is setting the tone for a Huskies team that is about to embark on its most defining weekend in a decade.

“We are finding a quiet confidence,” said Washington second-year coach Mike Neighbors.

He saw it in the days before his team played then-No. 5 Texas A&M before the turn of the new year. Washington won that game 70-49, one of the most unexpected results of the young season.

In W news, Mechelle addresses the “You’re fired!” “You’re hired!”

There are certain sports franchises — and players and coaches, for that matter — who do weird things that at first make you say, “You’re kidding. Seriously, they did that?” But then you say, “Oh, wait a minute. This is (fill in the name) that we’re talking about.”

The New York Liberty are such a franchise. But the re-hiring of Bill Laimbeer as coach less than three months after he was fired by the organization is head-scratching even by Liberty standards.

Oh, wait a minute. Not really. This is the Liberty we’re talking about.

Let me make haste to say, though, I actually don’t think this is a bad decision at all. It’s correcting a bad decision, which was firing Laimbeer back in October without a really strong idea of whom the franchise could get to replace him.

More Liberty news: 7 ON YOUR SIDE: HOOPS PRIZE WINNER NEEDS ASSIST

A little history: Former Wayland Baptist Flying Queen Cherri Rapp has been named for induction into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame.

Rapp played for the Flying Queens from 1968-72 under coach Harley Redin, winning two AAU championships along with third- and fourth-place finishes as those teams combined for a 107-13 win-loss record.
 
A three-time NWIT and AAU All-American, Rapp scored 1,348 points to rank third at the time on the Flying Queens’ career scoring list; today, she’s 14th.
 
She was a member of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team that competed in the 1976 Montreal Games. She played in the Pan American Games in 1971 (Brazil) and 1975 (Colombia), serving as captain of the team that won the 1975 gold medal, and also played in the World Games in 1971 (Brazil) and 1975 (Mexico).

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#25 Iowa came back from 10 down to defeat #22 Syracuse, giving the Orange their first loss of the season. (Also not my fault that ESPN had the Iowa/Cuse game recap for the UConn/UC-Davis game.

Blame the turkey? Purdue had a lead at the half, but then Duke kicked it into gear (And got Coach McCallie to her 499th win).

And then there were 6. Another injury to a scholarship player (ankle sprain) has UConn fans making rhymes (Nine little Huskies, playing oh so great/But one took a tumble, and then there were eight./Eight little Huskies, but one came up lame/Leaving only seven to continue with the game) and the team continuing to make mincemeat of their opponents.

I’m not holding my breath, but I am noticing Clemson has won some games. (First four-game winning streak since the 2008-09.)

Two teams that have made noise, but are semi-quiet this season went at it and had a hoot of a game: Central Michigan over Dayton, 94-91. Were you there, Debbie?

A not insignificant win: Wolfpack 76, Northwestern 61.

Yup, it’s gonna be a long year for Arizona: Blazers 63 – Wildcats 53.

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Scores.

Next!

First we have a “Big 6 v mid-major” story: Syracuse at JMU at 7 p.m. ET

Then we’ve got a “feel good story” v a “nobody’s noticed story“: San Diego at Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. ET

In a related story, congrats to NJCAA Champs Trinity Valley College, who won a battle between two undefeated teams.

How is it related? From the Hutchinson (KS) News: Court ceremony hits home for Trinity

The emotions were high for the Trinity Valley, Texas, women Saturday evening, especially for sophomore Keuna Flax and co-coach Kenya Landers.

Minutes before Trinity Valley embarked on its 69-55 win against Hutchinson Community College in the NJCAA national championship game at the Bicentennial Center, the basketball court was dedicated for Kurt Budke, a former Trinity Valley and Oklahoma State coach who was killed in a November plane crash.

More from the Salina Journal: Winning Tribute: Trinity Valley comes through on night Kurt Budke Court in named

Trinity Valley co-head coach Kenya Landers descended from the ladder and handed the scissors to Shelley Budke.

Budke climbed the ladder, snipped the last strand of net that had hung from the basketball goal at the west end of the Bicentennial Center, climbed down, placed the net around Landers and embraced her in a lengthy and emotional hug as they stood on the newly renamed Kurt Budke Court, dedicated to the memory of Shelley’s late husband.

Mission accomplished for Landers and her Trinity Valley women’s basketball team.

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which may explain why Notre Dame got blown out and Baylor got blown over.

In retrospect, we should have been paying more attention to the game at Texas Tech. #1 Baylor hadn’t been playing particularly elegantly and Texas Tech had been rumbling. But really, who expected that yesterday Kristy Curry would get the biggest victory of her tenure with the Red Raiders?

“I don’t think we ever had a doubt that we couldn’t do it from the beginning,” Tech sophomore guard Casey Morris said. “We know we can beat Texas A&M, we know we can beat Baylor, and we know we can beat anybody.

Wrote Mechelle: Pumped up Texas Tech upsets Baylor

…perhaps it’s really not very surprising that Tech’s still-simmering emotions helped result in a big upset.

Texas Tech bottled up Baylor’s offense, while coach Kim Mulkey’s team seemed to have bottled up much of its passion. Which actually was understandable, even if it might have cost Baylor on this particular day.

They got the New York Time’s attention:

The Lady Raiders wore pink jerseys and the arena was blanketed in the color as part of a breast cancer awareness campaign. The outside of the arena was blanketed by circulars that spoke to the venom that those involved with the conference rivalry also hoped to see eradicated.

For the first time this season, there were signs posted at every entrance encouraging fans to be loud and “get crazy,” but reminding them that profanity, racist or sexist comments, running onto the court and throwing anything onto the court were grounds for removal from the arena.

At Baylor’s request, there were four state troopers — twice the usual number — behind the visiting bench. Dan Burns, the associate director of the arena, said, “We want to ensure the safety of our guests.”

Meanwhile, #2 UConn spotted Notre Dame a 7-point lead and then took over behind their freshmen Bria Hartley (29pts/5 assts) and Stefanie Dolson (15pts) and rolled to a 19-pt win.

There was some upsey daisys in the Big East: Rutgers stomped #21 Marquette by 21 and Syracuse defeated #22 St. John’s by 11.

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