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in the WNIT: 

Semifinals
Wednesday, April 1
Temple at West Virginia, 7 p.m. ET
UCLA at Michigan, 7 p.m. ET

How they got there:

West Virginia 75, Villanova 70 OT
Michigan 69, Southern Miss 60
Temple 69, Middle Tennessee 57
UCLA 82, Saint Mary’s 66

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…’cause Temple stunned Charlotte, 48-47. The Owls (14-17), are in the semi’s of the A10 and will face Fordham (and Marah Strickland.). Let’s say that again: Fordham is in the semis. It’s time for a review of McManus’ piece on Fordham coach Gaitley

 It’s been a long time since Fordham had a women’s basketball team to be proud of. Anne O’Connell remembers. She was on the school’s last team that really stood out, reaching the postseason all four years when she played as Anne Gregory. She was grabbing her 2,000th career rebound in her final game when she fouled out on an over-the-back call. She made the AIAW record books with 1,999, and waited for the wins to return to Rose Hill gymnasium again.

It was a long wait.

“They’ve honored my team enough,” said O’Connell, who graduated in 1980. “And I love what they’ve done for our team over the years, but they need a new team to honor.”

On the other side of their bracket, Dayton will face off against St. Joe’s who, equal records aside, easily dispatched Duquesne.

In the Big South, the finals feature Liberty, of course, against upstart Longwood.

Longwood women’s basketball coach Bill Reinson quipped that because his team hasn’t won many games the last few years, his players have grown comfortable playing from behind.

And sure enough, when Radford rallied to take a lead late in the teams’ Big South tournament semifinals clash Saturday,the Lancers kept their composure and reclaimed control of the game down the stretch for a 54-51 win inside The HTC Center.

The top four seeds are through to the semi’s in the Southern: Chattanooga v. Appalachian State and Davidson v. Elon.

Ping-ity-ping ping: Tennessee Tech is feeling like they might be on the outside, especially since Tennessee Martin did it againthis time in OT.

It was going to end.

Trailing by a point with 10 seconds left in the OVC championship game, the UT Martin women’s basketball team was fouling desperately. Control of the game had slipped and was fading fast.

Only it didn’t end. Tennessee Tech made its first free throw but missed the second, and the one thing opponents cannot give these Skyhawks is an extra opportunity.

The Sky Hawks gets the OVC’s automatic bid with their 87-80 win, and Tech will have to wait the Committee’s decision.

More pinging: Top-seed Florida Gulf Coast raced to an impressive lead over Stetson behind a career game by Joyce Iamstrong ( pts). But, defense, timely & gusty offense, and closing the game on an 11-2 run added up to the Hatters stunning the Eagles. Great job by coach Lynn Bria, who led her team to a program record 24 wins this season.

Stetson fully embraced the underdog role in ruining FGCU’s bid at a repeat NCAA tournament appearance. The Hatters knew everyone picked them to lose their sixth straight to FGCU, but that only fueled them more.

“I remember telling (teammate Victoria McGowan) after the second time we lost to them (this season) that maybe it’s a sign,” Stetson senior Shanasa Sanders said. “We were saving our best for last. The third time’s the charm. We stuck together today and got the win.”

That’s the fourth straight trip to the dance for Princeton. Will another New Jersey team come knocking on Banghart’s door?

Dynasty.

There’s just no other way to put it.

Turning it on in the second half, the Princeton University women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive Ivy League championship tonight, turning back Brown
80-51.

The title was its 11th and fifth in the past eight seasons.

And more pinging: Purdue, via Mingo, shut down Hooper and the #21 Huskers. The Boilermakers are in the Big 10 finals and face Michigan State, who stifled, and then stunned, #8 Penn State, 54-46. Writes Graham: Both teams have a will and a way

Letters of welcome from schoolchildren line the hallway outside the locker rooms at the Sears Centre Arena, each Big Ten team in town for the conference tournament allotted a dozen or so such missives.

One letter to Purdue offered these words of encouragement.

“I really hope you win,” the handwritten message began. “Even if you don’t win, at least you know you tried. You’ll probably win if you try.”

Score one for the optimism of innocents.

Check out how this impacts the Bracketology.

Western Kentucky comes back from a 12pt deficit and has moved in to the semis of the Sun Belt. They are joined by FIU, AR-Little Rock and MTSU.

Gonzaga rolled over BYU, and now will face San Diego in the WCC finals. Their victory over St. Mary’s gave Toreros coach Cindy Fisher her 200th win.

Lucky Iona — the prize for taking down Sienna: they move into the MAAC finals and face Marist. The last time these two teams met, the Red Foxes won by 23.

In the SEC, writes Mechelle:  Texas A&M knocks off top seed – Aggies’ defense and rebounding spoil Spani’s career day, ends Lady Vols’ run

Tennessee had the No. 1 seed, acquired with gutsy play throughout its injury-plagued SEC season. They Lady Vols had the crowd support, with their contingent of orange-clad fans dwarfing the maroon group for Texas A&M. And they had Taber Spani having a career game, as she was trying to help Tennessee continue on the path to a fourth consecutive SEC tournament title.

What Tennessee didn’t have enough of, though, were two things that have long been a staple of the Orange Crush: defense and rebounding. The deficit in those areas cost the Lady Vols a chance at another title.

Nice photos from Kelly at Full Court. She also adds “SEC’s fresh faces raise the bar on defense (part 2)” which, somewhat prescient, has Graves (29 minutes, 4pts) and Walker (40 minutes, 18pts) at the top.

The first half of the Georigia-Kentucky game was beyond ugly. It got no better for the Bulldogs, but improved a tad for the Wildcats, so they’re in the SEC finals.

For the first time since 2003, the champion of the SEC women’s basketball tournament will come from someplace other than the state of Tennessee. And it took Gary Blair’s second win over Tennessee in his long career as a head coach to ensure it.

The fourth-seeded Aggies started Saturday’s semifinals with a 66-62 victory over No. 1 seed Tennessee. Then second-seeded Kentucky beat No. 3 seed Georgia 60-38. That sets up a championship matchup Sunday (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 6 p.m. ET) between a program that hasn’t won this title since 1982 — Kentucky beat Tennessee that year in the final — and one that has never been SEC tourney champ.

In the ACC, Thomas couldn’t save the Terps from losing a 14pt lead. And, writes Fagan, UNC’s Latifah Coleman answers the call

When North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell sent backup guard Latifah Coleman to the scorer’s table with 6 minutes, 16 seconds left in Saturday’s game against Maryland, she did so with one bit of advice: “Be a leader.”

The 5-foot-9 sophomore entered the ACC tournament semifinal with a season average of 3.4 points per game. She had played only a couple of minutes in Friday’s quarterfinal win over Boston College. And in the first half on Saturday, Coleman had gone 0 for 1 from the floor with two turnovers in just seven minutes. So it’s not unreasonable to think that when Hatchell told Coleman to “be a leader” and sent the young guard into the biggest game of her life, the coach was hoping only for a few minutes of mistake-free ball — and maybe some really good defense.

Duke got by Florida State, so it will be a dark blue/light blue tussle for the Championship.

So much for Pac-12 prognosticators. #14 UCLA raced to a early lead, and #8 Cal never had a chance to get back in the game: Bruins over Bears. Writes Michelle:

No one has been a bigger cheerleader for the power of the Pac-12 Conference this season than UCLA coach Cori Close.

She has preached the gospel wherever she has gone, talked up her conference mates in front of plenty of microphones and cajoled people to see the world the way that she does.

But sometimes words aren’t quite enough. So on Saturday night in KeyArena, the Bruins took action.

Stanford’s win over Colorado was no cakewalk, neither.

“It had the intensity of a (NCAA) tournament game,” Chiney Ogwumike said after her 25-point, 19-rebound performance. But she sank just 9-of-24 field goal attempts.

Seems they’re enjoying playing in Seattle:

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is in the Emerald City this week, observing the new setting for his postseason women’s basketball tournament. He likes what he sees.

“This is certainly a big step forward,” Scott said.

After a dismal few years in Los Angeles, where tournament attendance lagged from its previous home in San Jose, Calif., things are picking up.

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From the Swish Appealers:

Tennessee’s Vicki Baugh Looks Forward To A WNBA Future At Full Health

Rocky Top Talk Offers Insight On 2012 WNBA Draft Prospects Vicki Baugh, Glory Johnson & Shekinna Stricklen

2012 WNBA Draft Prospects: Top Five Rebounding Power Forwards

2012 WNBA Draft Prospect Interview: Temple’s Versatile Kristen McCarthy Optimistic About Fit In Pro Game

2012 WNBA Draft Prospects: International Intrigue From Damiris Dantas To Drexel’s Kamile Nacickaite

2012 WNBA Mock Draft 2.0

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From the Tulsa World: OSU women’s coaches take on extra work in wake of tragedy

The Oklahoma State women’s basketball team has rebounded from tragedy to win 18 games and reach the Sweet Sixteen of the WNIT.

The Cowgirls, who host Missouri Valley Conference champion Missouri State at 7 p.m. Thursday, were shepherded to this point by Jim Littell, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach after former head coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna died in a Nov. 17 plane crash.

But the unsung heroes of OSU’s forge-ahead season have been members of Littell’s staff.

From CBS-Philly: Temple, Villanova Ready For WNIT Battles

Just two Division I teams in the city are still playing basketball.  Both the Temple and Villanova women’s squads are into the Sweet 16 of the WNIT with both look to advance tonight.

Temple will be home at McGonigle Hall to host Syracuse out of the Big East while Villanova is on the road tonight to run with Colorado out of the Pac 12.

From the Daily Toreador: Tech hopes to extend WNIT run, hosts San Diego

We’re just excited to be able to continue to play,” she said. “We’ve got a chance to go to an Elite Eight. There’s another Elite Eight about to happen and when you look across this tournament, there are very worthy NCAA Tournament teams, so, again, it’s just trying to turn it into the most positive experience we can. That’s what life’s about.”

From the Richmond Times: U.Va., VCU set for WNIT third-round games

University of Virginia women’s basketball coach Joanne Boyle doesn’t believe in the status quo. After 34 games and nearly five months, Boyle is still tweaking her club’s on-court personality.

U.Va., which will play host to Appalachian State tonight at 7 in the third round of the WNIT, has thrived throughout the season on an inside-oriented zone defense. But in Monday’s second-round victory over the University of Richmond, a dangerous perimeter-shooting team, Boyle’s Cavaliers played an uncharacteristic amount of man-to-man.

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Jayda will be chatting with Harlem Globetrotter and Temple grad Fatima Maddox at 1pmPST.

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It would have bee my pleasure to nominate you for UoY, Fordham Rams (11-17, 2-11 A-20), but you needed to seal the deal. As it was, the Bonnies had to fight back in the second half to stay perfect in conference play. The 52-45 win earned St. Bonaventure their first Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season team championship in any sport and made the 2000+ fans in the stands very happy. Said Bona coach Crowley:

“Look over the last 10 years and the teams who have been No. 1 in our conference. Look at the size of the school, where they’re located, their funding. This is not supposed to happen. And it just did. … It’s unfathomable to everyone except these players. They saw it, went after it and got it. No one can take that way from them.”

Not quite a candidate for UoY, but deserving of a nomination, Ohio (6-8, MAC) did do a number on Bowling Green (12-2, MAC). Down five in the first half, Semeka Randall’s team turned up the defense and got just enough offense to take down the Falcons, 60-56. It’s the Bobcats have beaten the Falcons at home in a decade. Writes Matt Sussman at the Hustle Belt (No, YOU’RE a longshot for an at-large NCAA bid):

The Falcons had won their last eight games against the usually mediocre Bobcats and once again they are not considered a major factor in the MAC race. But OU’s senior leader Tenishia Benson was a major player tonight. With the game tied and essentially the final possession, Benson had the play of her career at the right time: a driving layup, plus the foul, whose ensuing free throw she missed and rebounded herself, forcing a jump ball and getting the possession back. It was essentially a huge final 10 seconds, and a normally composed Falcons team was caught with their pants down.

Hey, if you can’t win the tournament, make it difficult for someone else to.

All eyes turn to Eastern Michigan, which helped itself tremendously with their win over Toledo on Tuesday. Under coach AnnMarie Gilbert (an Oberlin graduate – where she was a rock star),  EMU is makin’ noise and here’s hoping the fans notice. This “nugget” from Rich Rezler pre the Toledo game: ” from the “Rocket Docket” blog by Toledo Blade sports writer Ryan Autullo:

“EMU has drawn a total of 4,894 fans to its 10 home games. (Toledo) has topped 5,000 in each of its past two home games.”

Ball State is next for EMU (at home, the 25th), then they’re at Central Michigan (28th).

My favorite “way under the radar, but looking like its working it way up” team, New Hampshire, is now at 8-7 in the Am. East. and they’ve guaranteed their first winning season since 2005-06.

In the battle of the dogs, BU recovered from their first conference loss, and the Terriers downed the Retrievers, 61-56.

The other big dog of the Am. East, Albany, rolled over Binghamton,69-37. The win marks the Great Danes’ first 20-win season since moving in to DI play.

Temple’s win (The last of Dawn’s recruits, Shey Peddy, 31 points) over St. Joseph puts them at 12-1 in the A-10. The Owls could make it an interesting conference tournament. Looking at their schedule, Cardoza has done a nice job of out of conference scheduling (something the Bonnies will have to beef up): Ohio State (L, by 4), TAMU (L, by 12), St. John’s (L by 6), Rutgers (L, by 21), Duke (L, by 11). Their only in-conference loss? At St. Bonaventure, by 11.

Oh, and I’m not ignoring Jabir’s Dayton Flyers, who ate the Musketeers for lunch. They’re 11-2 in the conference (Losses to Temple and St. B). Their tough out-of-conference games included: UConn (L), Toledo (L), Bowling Green (W)… and Cincy? (L) (Which is why I’m wondering about who gets COY votes in the Big East. I can’t imagine the winner won’t be Muffet, but….)

Bucknell’s run in the second half against American almost had the Bison’s getting a nomination for best supporting UoY, but the Eagles held on for the 62-59 victory, and a still perfect Patriot League record, and become the first team in league history to begin conference with 13-straight wins.  Not jinxin’ them, noI’mnot, BUT, no team has finished regular season conference play 14-0. Lisa Strack had a key assist to secure the win, and her team-high 19pts pushed her over the 1000pt mark in her career.

Something’s gotten in to little ole St. Louis (who are up for the best supporting UoY award since they took down Duquense, 56-55). Last night they (10-8, 4-9, A-10) took Charlotte (15-2, 7-6 ) to overtime and got a 70-69 win for their efforts.

“This might have been the most fulfilling win we’ve had since I’ve been here,” SLU head coach Shimmy Gray-Miller (Michigan grad) said. “Not many people gave us a chance to win this game. I’ve been talking about how much heart and pride this team has, and tonight they showed it in abundance. We didn’t give up or give in, although we had many chances to do just that.”

The Sugar Bears are roarin’ through the Southland (E, but they’re heads and shoulders above the W, too). Central Arkansas’ latest victim: Nicholls State, by 20 . This is a team that only lost to Georgia Tech by 6, and is probably cranky that SFA gave them their one conference loss (January, 54-45). They may be fierce in the conference tourney and (fingerscrossed’causeIdon’twannajinx’em) in the NCAA tourney.

Well keep things interesting, why dontcha? Samford (17-10, 12-6 Southern) took down Chattanooga (1908, 14-4), 58-48.

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last night’s game in Jersey was either gutty or gut-wrenching.

Depleted DePaul rode the hot hand of Anna Martin to a nice lead over Rutgers. Then turnovers, a missed field goal and Khadijah Rushdan’s end of game scoring streak spelled disaster for the Blue Demons: the Scarlet Knights win.

Hard to cheer against Gary Blair. Harder to cheer against Oklahoma State. Cowgirls pull off the 57-53 upset of # 14 Texas A&M.

Mechelle says the Big 12 about more than just Baylor, but I’m not sure of the overall (NCAA-level) quality of the teams.

Graham has his mid-majors poll and, picking up on Doug “The APWBall King”‘s theme, notes: Zags, BYU give WCC two entries

Speaking of the Zags: from the Spokesman-Review: Gonzaga’s Redmon proves her dedication

Ooops. Will this undermine the Miners? 2 UTEP guards suspended indefinitely

So, has there been some shaky play this season, or do we get to pull out the p-word? LSU had to go to overtime to escape with a 71-68 win over East Tennessee State.

From the Observer: ND’s Peters comfortable in her role and I missed this Hoops Across America entry from espnW: Love of the Irish drives volunteers

Xavier’s misery continues: Temple 64, Musketeers 38.

About those Idaho State Bengals: Ashleigh Vella: the wonder from “down under”

Ouch: BG coach Miller’s health ‘not 100 percent’

San Diego State remains undefeated in the MWC, and Nick Canepa writes: SDSU women’s basketball deserves show of support

What Beth Burns needs is a show to call her own. To be square, not necessarily The Show, the roaring, cunning group of San Diego State’s men’s basketball wackos, but maybe something along the lines of The Showups.

Speaking of San Diego — a little WATN? with Charity Shira of then-Southwest Missouri State’s Final Four team of 1992: Elliott has her NCAA Division II California-San Diego Tritons ranked No. 1 in the country

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Temple’s Treys Keep Owls in First Place Tie

Until Saturday afternoon it was easy to believe how Temple coach Tonya Cardoza looked to UConn’s Geno Auriemma, her boss for 14 seasons with the Huskies, for mentoring her into running her own program.

However, judging by the Owls’ heady 84-56 Atlantic 10 victory over visiting Richmond at McGonigle Hall, when it comes to tactical execution she may have been using Villanova’s Harry Perretta as her secret role model.

From Lady Swish: Liberty, Hampton cruise with suffocating defense

There’s no such thing as a perfect defensive effort, but we suspect even Lady Flames coach Carey Green will be hard-pressed to find many flaws with the lockdown his team applied Saturday. Consider that Winthrop’s top three scorers combined to score zero points.

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