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but first, the WNIT kicks us off with a fun story: Double Duty In Des Moines: Kansas Band Gets The Assist For Drake Women’s Basketball

A college basketball game without a band present … it’s just not the same, is it? Drake’s women’s team was facing that, though, for its WNIT opener Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa. The school is on spring break, and the Drake band members aren’t on campus.

However, Drake got a capable substitute: The Kansas band was in Des Moines for the Jayhawks’ NCAA men’s tournament game Thursday afternoon.

As for the games:

The band helped! Drake (MVC) over Sacred Heart (NEC), 95-59.

Road-weary UT Rio Grande (WAC) got swept away by TCU (Big12), 97-73.

Arkansas State (Sun Belt) chomped on Southern (SWAC), 68-45.

It was a tight one, as short-handed Nebraska (Big10) fell to Northern Iowa (MVC), 64-62.

Ball State (MAC) went on the road and topped Iowa (Big Ten), 77-72.

Arkansas Little-Rock (Sun Belt) and St. Louis (A-10) went down to the wire, but… Billikens win! 70-69.

And I swoop! Tennessee-Martin (Ohio Valley) came back to defeat Memphis (American), 79-73. It’s the programs first post-season win since 1999.

Dayton (A-10) fell to Western Kentucky (C-USA), 89-72.

San Diego (WCC) escapes Northwestern (Big 10), 69-65. The Wildcats scored 8 in the first and 35 in the fourth. Coach must be banging his head against the wall.

No, really, remember when they stunk? IUPUI (Summit) over Central Michigan (MAC), a tough program, 63-55.

Bucknell (Patriot) over Akron (MAC), 74-70. The Bison are the first team from the Patriot League to ever win a game in the WNIT, while also posting the program’s first victory in a national postseason tournament.

“We have had a lot of great things happen this year, but to get a postseason win is pretty sweet,” said Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell. “It’s a great accomplishment for our program and our league, and a huge feather in the cap for this gritty team. I am incredibly proud of them.”

Gonzaga (WCC) chewed up undermanned UC Riverside (Big West), 88-54.

Oregon (Pac12) over Long Beach State (Big West) by 8.

After all the waiting and working and wondering, Oregon coach Kelly Graves finally got the glimpse of his team’s future that he’d been looking for the past two weeks.

And he liked it so much that Graves told his rejuvenated Ducks to go play couch potatoes for a day like the rest of America as their reward.

 Welcome to March Madness, ladies. WNIT style.

Nice showing against a program that in no joke: Marshall (C-USA) falls to Ohio (MAC), 76-68.

Eastern Michigan (MAC) led wire to wire, and eked out an away win over Saint Mary’s (WCC), by one, 74-73.

Graduate transfer Chanise Baldwin’s ffensive rebound and put back with 1.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter lifted the Eastern Michigan University women’s basketball team to a 74-73 victory over Saint Mary’s College in the opening round of the WNIT Thursday, March 17. The Eagles led by as many as nine, but needed Baldwin’s late game heroics to propel the Green and White into the second round of the tournament. 

In a back-and-forth battle, it was Abilene Christian (Southland) who blinked first. UTEP (C-USA) won, 66-62.

Virginia Tech (ACC) over Elon (CAA), 68-59.

Villanova (Big East) ousted Liberty (Big South), 67-51.

Hofstra (CAA) over Harvard (Ivy), 76-50.

Even with the loss of top-scorer Mikayla Venson, Virginia (ACC) managed a two-point win over VCU (A10).

Georgia Tech (ACC) stung Mercer (Southern), 73-56.

Rutgers (Big East Big 10) last-second-shot-ed a win over Georgetown (Old Big East), 57-55.

An improving Wake Forest (ACC) held off Charlotte (C-USA), 72-69.

First round NCAA games I’m keeping my eye on:

Albany/Florida
JMU/DePaul
Chattanooga/Mississippi State
Green Bay/Tennessee
St. Bonaventure/Oklahoma State

Michelle Smith: Tara VanDerveer vs. Jennifer Azzi

Asked to remember the last time they talked on the phone before they found out they would be matched up in the NCAA tournament, both Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer and University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi came up with the same answer.

“Probably just a few weeks ago,” Azzi said.

“Not that long ago,” VanDerveer confirmed. “We talked about some things she was dealing with.”

There will be no talking this week.

Katie Barnes: UConn freshman Samuelson finds her footing

Bonnie and Karlie Samuelson, both of whom played at Stanford, are as responsible as anyone for making Lou the player she is.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be just like them, so that’s where it all started,” Samuelson said. “But once I got older, all I wanted to do was to be better than them.”

When will DePaul Women get their due as NCAA contenders?

Every year, I hear the same thing. “There are no Illinois teams in the NCAA tournament.”

And for the past 14 years, all those who have said that have been wrong.

Why, oh, why, do Illinois residents overlook the DePaul Blue Demons (25-8), who’ve achieved a berth in the NCAA Women’s Tournament for 14 CONSECUTIVE YEARS… also, their 21st overall appearance since 1990?

Jonathan Lintner: Cards’ Hines-Allen hitting high gear in March

Recently named the ACC Player of the Year, Hines-Allen registered a pair of double-doubles to open the postseason and hit 19 of her 33 shots.

“I want to prove to people it’s not a fluke and just give my all every single day,” the sophomore forward said. “That’s how I got the award.”

BTW: Division II has reached the Elite Eight.

4 Florida Southern v. 1 Lubbock Christian (March 22, 1pm)
2 Anchorage-Alaska v. 7 Francis Marion (March 22, 7pm)
1 Virginia Union v. 1 Bentley (March 22, 3:3o)
2 Grand Valley State v. 7 Pittsburgh State (9:30)

The big shockers were seeing #1 Union, #1 Azusa Pacific and #1 Limestone go down in the first round. #1 Ashland feel in the second round. #1 Emporia State lost in the 3rd round.

Division III’s Final Four is scheduled for March 19th, Capitol University, Columbus Ohio.

Tufts (27-3) v. Wartburg (23-7), 5pm.
Wartburg’s Final Four run stranger than fiction

 Amsberry’s Nine will do for a working title. Wartburg College’s surprise run into the NCAA Division III women’s basketball Final Four has the makings of a green-lit sports movie.

The plot is a season salvaged off life support by a group of athletes that had moved on before reuniting to accomplish an ambitious goal.

The script has more than final credits left to be written.

Jumbos book trip to NCAA tournament semifinals for third year in a row

For the past two years, Tufts had gotten it done at home in the postseason. The Jumbos had qualified for the NCAA tournament by winning the NESCAC championship, earned home court advantage and fought their way through dominant first-round wins and overtime thrillers alike to reach the NCAA Div. III championship semifinals, the Final Four.

This year was different. Tufts fell by one point in a heartbreaking loss to Amherst in the NESCAC championship but still earned an at-large bid. 

Amherst (30-1) v. Thomas More (31-0), 7:30PM

Saints on a different kind of mission

You already know what’s the same about the defending champs, so let’s look at what’s different about Thomas More this season.

It all starts with a change in hashtag philosophy.

Sister act adds to Amherst’s legacy

If Amherst head women’s basketball coach G.P. Gromacki hadn’t been persistent when reaching out to junior twins Ali and Meredith Doswell during the recruiting process, no telling what he would be doing this weekend.

 

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The Albany Times Union continues to celebrate the Great Danes: How UAlbany built a women’s basketball dynasty

Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson was the last person up the ladder after UAlbany defeated Maine 59-58 in the championship game. She cut the rest of the net off the hoop and then swung it over her head, motioning for the fans to cheer louder.

She’s the architect of a program that this week will play in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight year, an achievement that was all but impossible to imagine when she was hired on April 19, 2010.

Coach Abe, as she’s known, arrived with a surprisingly simple blueprint: Build strong women, she often says, and you can build a winning basketball team.

But the culture change she brought and winning basketball that followed were hardly so simple. There were doubts to overcome off the court and challenges on the court. 

This is how UAlbany became a women’s basketball powerhouse.

Video: These are two SNY specials on UConn. I post them not to celebrate the Husky program, but to remind coaches and athletic directors that building a quality program takes time, thought and attention. You don’t always get to got to the Big Dance (ask Maine)… or the WNIT… or garner a winning season. But there are steps you can take…

Huskies All Access The Season 2015-16

UCONN ’95: BIRTH OF A DYNASTY


About roots: Syracuse’s 1st women’s basketball and field hockey coach Muriel Smith remembered for pioneering women’s sports

The Syracuse women’s basketball team greeted a small woman in a light-brown knitted hat and a blue SU basketball shirt standing behind the bench after a game in the Carrier Dome on Dec. 6. Each player shook her hand as she supported herself with a black cane in her left hand. They all uttered just two words: “Thank you.”

The woman was Muriel Smith, Syracuse’s first women’s basketball and field hockey head coach, who died on March 1. She was 87. Smith led the women’s basketball team to a 57-33 record from 1971-1978 and the field hockey team to a 22-16-7 record from 1972-1977. She was a gold medalist in the National Senior Games — a fierce competitor, yet still kind and gracious. She was a coach, teacher and trailblazer for women’s sports.

About the post-season: BYU men’s and women’s basketball prepare for postseason invites

More about the post-season: What a time to be alive in Middle Tennessee

There are no teams in America right now that believe in themselves more than the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State University.

And that belief has worked wonders.

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, all but counted out ahead of the Conference USA Championship, proved critics wrong Saturday night in Birmingham securing a rare sweep of the conference tournament.

The men, who were battling through injuries late in the season, fought their way past skeptics and with a pair of Reggie Upshaw free throws as the Blue Raiders took their first C-USA tournament crown in school history.

Though the women closed out the season on a three-game win streak, they were also counted out by pundits when it came to bringing home a championship.

About finding out who goes where: NCAA Women’s Basketball Bracket 2016: Selection Show TV, Live Stream Schedule

About comparing the Committee’s picks v. Charlie’s picks on Dishin & Swishin 3/10/16 Podcast: Bracketologist Charlie Creme goes beyond 140-characters and

About moving from one team to another: Pac-12 Announces New Policy Dealing with Misconduct Issues of Transfer Student-Athletes

Under the new policy, student-athlete transfers who are ineligible to re-enroll at any of their previous colleges or universities will be automatically deemed ineligible to receive athletic aid from a Pac-12 university and cannot join any university team or participate in their activities. 

The transfer policy will apply only to student misconduct issues such as assault, harassment, academic fraud, and other violations of campus behavior conduct policies. It will not apply to academic performance reasons unrelated to misconduct.

Thank you: Barrier-breaker official Melanie Davis calls last SWAC Tournament

About the DIII Road to Indy, you should always check out D3Hoops:

Win Over Scranton Punches 3rd Consecutive Final Four Ticket for Women’s Basketball

Forward Melissa Baptista poured in a game high 23 points to lead the way, as Tufts held off a comeback attempt by the University of Scranton in the fourth quarter to collect a hard fought 57-48 victory in the Quarterfinals of the 2016 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday in the John Long Center.
 
With the victory, the Jumbos (now 27-3 on the year) advance to their third consecutive Final Four, which will be played next Saturday in Columbus, Ohio on the campus of Capital University. Scranton ends the season with a 30-1 record with the defeat.”It was a really fun game for me to be a part of and coach,” said Tufts head coach Carla Berube after the win. “Scranton brought it. When they tied the game up in the second half, I knew our team was going to have to dig deep and find ways to get stops and keep composed, and we were able to do that.”

Thomas More

Make it 31-0.

In its most closely contested game since December, the Thomas More women’s basketball team kept its unbeaten season alive and advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four with an 88-72 victory over visiting Washington (Mo.) on Saturday.

The Saints’ average margin of victory this season is 39.3 points, but they led by just six going to the fourth quarter Saturday.

Amherst

For the first time in three years, the Amherst College women’s basketball team is back in the NCAA Division III Final Four.

Amherst earned a trip to Columbus, Ohio, Saturday following a 78-50 triumph over Rochester in an Elite Eight game at LeFrak Gymnasium.

Amherst outscored Rochester 26-10 in the third quarter to pull away.

“What an outstanding pace – I’m tired and I didn’t even play,” Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki said. “I am proud of them.”

Wartburg is in courtesy of Kailey Kladivo (who could have been competing in the Division III indoor track and field championships). This is the Knights’ first trip to the Final Four.

Division II is in the Sweet Sixteen stage.

About prepping for the W’s “Year 20.”

Countdown to the 2016 WNBA Draft: No. 4 Oregon’s Jillian Alleyne

Duncanville’s Tamika Catchings wants to end career on winning note

And, just in case you missed this, Amber Brown returns to Norfolk State:

Six weeks ago, it looked as if Norfolk State forward Amber Brown might die after suffering a diabetes-related stroke and three cardiac arrests.

On Saturday, the 20-year-old from Atlanta sat courtside at Echols Hall watching her Spartan teammates rally from 14 back only to fall four points shy against Morgan State. She snapped pictures with her iPhone, texted at a furious pace, ate a hot dog from the concession stand, giggled with her best friend and accepted handshakes, hugs and even flowers from fans who repeatedly told her how much they prayed for her during the 40-day ordeal when she was hospitalized.

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to the start of the 2015-16 season.

Utah: Under Lynne Roberts, Utes are pursuing new fans

Some people sketch out their vision on a napkin, or a whiteboard, or store it in the files of their mind.

As of Friday, Lynne Roberts has a website.

Utah women’s basketball rolled out a website dedicated to its players, coaches, tradition and home. The website, utahwomenshoops.com, features video interviews of everyone in the program, and images touting past success — implying success to come.

In Roberts’ profile, she quotes Henry Kissinger: “The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have never been.”

It’s what the 40-year-old head coach has in mind for the Utes: making the program a headline attraction.

Nebraska: With a deeper roster, Creighton women’s basketball has a good problem

There have been seasons in which Creighton women’s basketball coach Jim Flanery didn’t have enough healthy bodies to practice.

Not this season. Flanery has 15 players on the roster. He has more depth than he knows what to do with. Although not a big fan of redshirting, he’s going to ask two of his players to sit out this year.

Nebraska, too: Meet the Husker women’s basketball team

Iowa State: Johnson trying to be more vocal, show she’s an all-conference performer

“Her ability to rebound, her ability to get to the basket in situations — her numbers are eerily consistent,” Fennelly said. “But we have to find that solid starter as a sophomore, good player, that bumps to great, all-conference, unquestioned leader kind of thing. I think she’s capable.” 

More Iowa State: Buckley set to takeover at point guard

“This is the first year in a long time where we don’t have an incumbent point guard that you know is really, really good,” Fennelly said. “You look at that wall in there, and it’s full of really good point guards. I honestly believe Jadda Buckley could be the next one. 

Connecticut: UConn Women’s Insider: Gabby Williams Has Put In Extra Work – And It Shows

Last year was a busy one for Gabby Williams, filled with transitional tasks that would easily spin the head of any 18-year-old freshman.

She moved from high school to college, from Nevada to Storrs. She worked on mending after a second season-ending knee injury early in her senior season at Sparks High in Reno. And she accepted the challenge of a shift from guard to forward, presented by the UConn coaching staff during her first summer on campus.

And yet, from just about every imaginable perspective, her freshman season was a great success.

South Dakota: SD fervor for women’s basketball is unique and appreciated

The fervor for women’s basketball is a legend across South Dakota, and now nationally as teams from colleges across the state continue to draw record crowds, surprising the out-of-state spectators and lifting the players with the energy, enthusiasm and support the sport garners here.

“I try to make sure our players take a step back and appreciate it when we’re setting attendance records (in the Premier Center),” said USD coach Amy Williams. “Whether they go on to play (after college) or their careers are over, they probably won’t ever have another experience like that.”

Hoping for further growth in NY: New faces for Stony Brook women’s basketball team have winning pedigrees

New Jersey: Dynamic duo leads Rutgers into second year in Big Ten

New Hampshire: Coaches’ Corner With Maureen Magarity

North Carolina: Brown guides from the bench for Duke women’s basketball

Duke’s roster boasts several electric backcourt players this season, but the guard that may have the biggest impact on the team will never see the floor during a game.

Lexie Brown was a third-team All-American as a sophomore last year at Maryland, leading the Terrapins to back-to-back Final Four appearances before deciding to transfer to Duke in the offseason. She will have to sit out of competition this year due to NCAA transfer regulations, but the Suwanee, Ga., native will still practice with the team and challenge the Blue Devils’ young backcourt in practice all winter.

Kansas: Breaking down the WSU women’s basketball team

What will life after Alex Harden be like for the Wichita State women’s basketball team?

Harden is playing for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and Wichita State is left with an average of just 5.3 points returning from the team that paired its third straight Missouri Valley championship with its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

It’s just the latest challenge for coach Jody Adams, who has taken on – and conquered – a myriad of them to build Wichita State to its current status atop the MVC.

Florida: 

Last season was the first time the Gators failed to make the postseason in eight years under coach Amanda Butler. A 5-11 SEC record doomed them and led preseason prognosticators to peg UF for a 12th-place finish in the SEC. The Gators have reasons to believe last year was a blip rather than a trend. UF has a strong five-member senior class and only two freshmen, so inexperience should not be a concern. Six players averaged at least 7.1 points per game last season, and five are returning.

Who’s in charge?

California: Mikayla Cowling set to lead Cal women’s basketball in 2015-16

Unlike years past, the Cal women’s basketball team won’t be entering the 2015-16 season as one of the contenders to win the title. While its three-point loss at home to Texas in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year was devastating, the more crushing blow to the future of the program was the loss of its top three scorers.

California, too: UCLA women’s basketball looks to bolster teamwork efforts

Sue has a preview of all the Pac 12 teams.

Fingers crossed in Minnesota: Banham’s return buoys Gophers’ lineup revisions – Guard back from knee injury nears scoring record. 

The thing that’s most exciting to me is the way the fan base has embraced us and what we’re trying to do,” Stollings said. “People have said, ‘You know, you’ve electrified the fan base again. You’ve instilled pride back into the program.’ For me, it’s been awesome being embraced by our fans.

In DIII hoops: No surprise, Thomas More is picked to repeat.

For most of our Top 25 voters, the easiest decision was the first one: putting Thomas More No. 1. The defending champions return four starters and seven players from their regular rotation, including D3hoops.com Player of the Year Sydney Moss, and were a unanimous No. 1 selection in the D3hoops.com preseason women’s basketball Top 25 poll.

Wisconsin: Johnson forgoes WNBA for one last chance with UW

For Michala Johnson, the training room became the place she resided during games almost as much as the bench. Thanks to two ACL injuries, the sixth-year senior has become as versed in the anatomy of a knee as the Wisconsin playbook. Twice, she has watched her team suffer on the floor knowing full well she could do very little to affect the outcomes of their games.

“The hardest part is just having to go through it again. Always being in the training room, when I want to be out, watching practice or being a part of the team,” Johnson said of her latest ACL injury, which kept her out of most of the 2014-’15 season. 

Audio: Dishin & Swishin 11/05/15 Podcast: Vanderbilt’s Melanie Balcomb on the transfer epidemic, returning to prominence in the SEC and more

Video: Auriemma on First Take

Video: Super Vol Fan Margo has her preview,

Like Margo, we’re wondering: Can Diamond DeShields lead Tennessee back to the Final Four?

Oooo – Reporter Flashback parallels WNBA fashback: Ailene Voisin: Monarchs join party for Women in Sports festivities

While the Kings limp through the opening weeks of 2015-16, their final season inside the soon-to-be archived Sleep Train Arena, the trip down memory lane continues.

Everyone has a personal favorite. Opening night against the Los Angeles Clippers in the temporary facility in 1985. Mike Bibby’s side jumper against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5. The sobfest finale in 2011 that gave NBA owners pause about relocating the franchise. The Oct. 28 regular-season opener against the Clippers, suggesting it was time to start prepping for the move into Golden 1 Center.

But there is no forgetting the Monarchs.

Never, ever, ever, ever.

Staying on the West Coast: Rhea finds home with Seattle Storm 

Talisa Rhea has always had a head and passion for the game of basketball.

Whether competing on the court or sitting on the sidelines, she was a student of the game, the 94-by-50-foot court serving as a classroom of sorts.

That classroom now includes a promotion to the position of manager of basketball operations for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, the next best thing to playing, according to Rhea, a 2007 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate.

Texas: Dallas’ new WNBA team look to be ‘market disrupters’

From the video series “The Makers”: The WNBA’s Candace Parker On Winning at Work (Plus, Her Must-Try “24-Hour Rule”)

Adam Silver confident in WNBA, plans to be more involved. (Okay… how about asking Lin Dunn, “What’re you up to these days….”?) Writes Mechelle:

The league must look for someone who can build on what’s been accomplished, and remedy (or at least start to) some of the things that haven’t. I believe someone with both strong basketball and business backgrounds is the best target.

Wednesday night, I spoke at length with NBA commissioner Adam Silver about where the WNBA goes from here. And although you don’t typically see the word “passionate” used in regard to Silver, he genuinely sounded that way about his commitment to the WNBA. And frankly, that was very good to hear.

Following up on the post below: From David: Black Mizzou Football Players Are Going on Strike Over Campus Racism – In a game changer that could bring down a university president, the Missouri football players are showing just how powerful their labor is.

The power of this action cannot be overstated. These football players have forced people to educate themselves about a campus environment that has been on fire for months, if not years. (Here is a timeline.) This year activists on campus have protested over the rights of adjunct professors, the cutting of health care benefits, the rolling back reproductive rights for women, and a hostile climate for students of color. And a recent series of ugly racist incidents led the football players to take collective action. For a team that two years ago stood in solidarity with teammate Michael Sam when he told the world he was gay, they again made the lionhearted decision to rise to the moment.

I spoke with Dr. Rebecca Martinez, an assistant professor in women’s and gender Studies. She said, “The football program here at Mizzou is a central part of the university culture.  The collective athletes of color who made the decision to go on strike do so with conviction for social justice for marginalized students on our campus. Given the importance of football here, they are taking a significant stand. They are not thinking of themselves, their play, and their careers at this moment. It is not an easy thing to do on a football-centered campus like ours, especially around the issue of racism. There will likely be no shortage of those who put football above humanity and who are convinced that racism doesn’t live here. And they are wrong.”

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Tonight, the resilient Eastern Michigan folks are going up against a tough Southern Miss team.

Up next:

Thursday, March 26
St. John’s at Villanova, 7 p.m. ET – Aaliyah Lewis leads St. John’s women’s basketball team into WNIT’s Round of 16
NC State at Temple, 7 p.m. ET
Missouri at Michigan, 7 p.m. ET
Duquesne at West Virginia, 7 p.m. ET
Ole Miss at Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m. ET – Poppa against son.
Northern Colorado at UCLA, 10 p.m. ET
Saint Mary’s at Sacramento State, 10 p.m. ET

How everybody got here: 

Sunday, March 22
Temple 61, Penn 56
St. John’s 77, Fordham 63
Villanova 71, Old Dominion 66
Southern Miss 77, TCU 73
Missouri 67, Kansas State 48
Middle Tennessee 70, Arkansas State 60
NC State 69, ECU 65
UCLA 63, San Diego 58
Eastern Michigan 69, Tulsa 59
Ole Miss 63, Georgia Tech 48
Northern Colorado 59, South Dakota 58

Monday, March 23
Michigan 74, Toledo 58
Sacramento St 84, Eastern Washington 49
Saint Mary’s 83, Fresno State 64

Tuesday, March 24
West Virginia 57, Hampton 39
Duquesne 48, Richmond 47

Congrats to *undefeated* Thomas MoreNCAA Division III Champions.

The national championship trophy arrived in Crestview Hills shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday. Students, families, and fans lined the sidewalks outside of the Connor Convocation Center.

When the women’s basketball team bus arrived behind a police and fire truck escort, coach Jeff Hans was riding shotgun with the newest member of the Thomas More family: the 2015 NCAA Division III national championship trophy.

“It was a little more realistic when I woke up this morning and the trophy was in my room,” said Hans. “I knew that it wasn’t a dream.”

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What’s exciting about the first round is not so much the winners/losers but the margins of victory. Upsets – or upsets avoided – often come on last second shots. Margin of victory often comes down to size & physical fitness or skill level/coaching. So much fun to see teams go head-to-head for the first time.

Squeak!

The Great Danes may be kicking themselves over this during the off season – #4 Duke by 2 over #13 Albany, courtesy of a last second Greenwell three.

The Duke women’s basketball team was staring at the abyss. Which is pretty much what an NCAA tournament first-round loss at home at Cameron Indoor Stadium would have felt like for the Blue Devils: a bottomless gulf.

Fortunately for Duke, though, Rebecca Greenwell was there to fill up the bucket.

“Kudos to her,” Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said of the redshirt freshman’s 20 points, six coming on 3-pointers. “I mean, she killed us. That’s the game: It’s her.”

The #12 Toppers couldn’t top #5 Texas, as the Longhorns escaped with a 2-point win, 66-64.

“I told the players after the game this was a hard-fought win and there’s no shame it went down to the wire,” Texas coach Karen Aston said.

Imani McGee-Stafford had 24 points and 14 rebounds as sloppy Texas overcame 19 turnovers — including one that could have cost the Longhorns the game — and erased a late seven-point deficit.

Missing key players for extended parts of the season has toughed up both #9 Nebraska and #8 Syracuse. Only the Orange move on, though, by a slim three-point margin.

Timber!

#9 Depaul came back from a big deficit to get the win over #8 Minnesota. Bruno is a damn good coach. And Stollings is going one SO happy to add a healthy B to Zahui B. ZB notched a mere 21/22 in this game.

After making only two of 20 three-point attempts in the first half, DePaul started to connect as the Gophers faltered. They made six of 14 in the final 20 minutes, including three during their rally.

“I actually didn’t think our defense was particularly good in the first half and at the beginning of the second half,’’ Bruno said. “Maybe the 15-point deficit was the best thing that could have happened to us, because it really showed [his players] that our backs were going to be up against the wall, and they were going to have to fight to have a chance to win.”

#11 Miami built a nice first-half lead over #6 Washington, and rode Motley’s 30 to the upset win, 86-80.

Motley — who had 32 points in Miami’s biggest win, a 78-63 win over Notre Dame that likely sealed a tournament bid — hit a jumper in the lane to give Miami a 73-71 lead. Four free throws put the Hurricanes up six with a minute left.

“Her pull-up, when she goes to shoot it, the person on the bench keeping score is already writing two,” Miami coach Katie Meier said about Motley. “She’s just so consistent.”

#10-why-did-they-get-a-bid Arkansas was down 13, but came back to tripped up #7 Northwestern by 2, 57-55.

“Big boost of confidence in our first year to be in the NCAA and then to win a game like we had to win,” said Dykes, the former Razorbacks player and ESPN analyst. “We just kept saying this is a fight more than a basketball game. Our guys love that. They love that theme.”

I warned ya the WCC was tough. #11 Gonzaga took down #6 George Washington, 82-69.

With George Washington storming back within six points and the shot clock winding down Friday night, Gonzaga forward Sunny Greinacher didn’t think. She let it fly.

The ball went through net with 3:15 left to play and the 3-pointer turned to be the game-winner as No. 11 seed Gonzaga upset No. 6 seed George Washington 82-69 in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament. 

“I loved the way we battled,” Zags coach Lisa Fortier said. “I’m very happy with our performance.”

Phew!

The #14 ‘wabbits had a 2-pt lead over the #3 Beavers at the half, but Oregon State pulled away the second for the 74-62 win.

#5 Mississippi State had just enough to keep the #12 Green Wave of Tulane at bay, 57-47.

As it should be in 10 v. 7 games, the higher-seed Dayton kept Iowa State at arms length for the 11pt win.

Nice showing by #14 American in their first tourney, as they gave #3 Iowa quite the tussle, finally falling 75-67.

#13 Wichita State proved it was no slouch as they kept within striking distance of #4 Cal for most of the game with Harden matching Gray’s 22/9 output. But the Bears had too much team support, and ended up with the 12-point win, 78-66.

Just sayin’….

Yah, #1 South Carolina stomped #16 Savannah State, 81-48 – but just think: The upset MEAC champs scored 30 first-half points on the SEC champs…

Yah. #2 Baylor stomped Northwestern State but… hmmm… No buts. NWSt got stomped.

Same thing happened to #15 Tennesseee State when they faced #2 Kentucky, 97-52.

None of the Irish starters played more than 29 minutes as #1 Notre Dame cruised past #16 Montana, 77-43.

In WNIT news, Round 1 is done. Round 2 starts Sunday.

Wednesday, March 18
Michigan 72, Cleveland State 50
East Carolina 74, Radford 52
Ole Miss 80, UT Martin 70
Arkansas State 61, Western Michigan 49
Eastern Washington 67, Washington State 65

Thursday, March 19
Old Dominion 69, Virginia 62
St. John’s 64, Army 56
Fordham 70, Central Connecticut State 67
Penn 65, Hofstra 58
Temple 67, Marist 54
NC State 73, ETSU 58
West Virginia 84, Buffalo 61
Hampton 45, Drexel 42
Duquesne 72, Youngstown State 54
Georgia Tech 69, Elon 47
Middle Tennessee 69, Ball State 58
Southern Miss 79, Texas Southern 69
TCU 85, Stephen F. Austin 80
Kansas State 86, Akron 68
Missouri 69, Northern Iowa 61
South Dakota 68, Creighton 58
Northern Colorado 53, Colorado State 48
San Diego 63, Long Beach State 56
UCLA 70, CSU Bakersfield 54
Sacramento State 87, Pacific 79
Fresno State 79, San Francisco 73

Friday, March 20
Toledo 72, Wright State 64
Villanova 71, Maine 60
Richmond 67, Stetson 66
Tulsa 78, Missouri State 72
Eastern Michigan 80, Drake 70
Saint Mary’s 92, Hawaii 88 OT

ROUND 2

Sunday, March 22 (all times ET)
Temple at Penn, 2 p.m.
Fordham at St. John’s, 2 p.m.
Old Dominion at Villanova, 2 p.m.
TCU at Southern Miss, 3 p.m.
Missouri at Kansas State, 3 p.m.
Arkansas State at Middle Tennessee, 3 p.m.
NC State at ECU, 4 p.m.
UCLA at San Diego, 5 p.m.
Eastern Michigan at Tulsa, 6 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Ole Miss, 7 p.m.
South Dakota at Northern Colorado, 7 p.m.

Monday, March 23
Michigan at Toledo, 7 p.m.
Eastern Wash. at Sacramento St, 10 p.m.
Fresno State at Saint Mary’s, 10 p.m.

Tuesday, March 24
Hampton at West Virginia, 7 p.m.
Richmond at Duquesne, 7 p.m.

In NCAA Division III, the finals are set. It’ll be Thomas More going to their first championship game, courtesy of their 62-52 win over Tufts.

Friday night’s victory (30-2) helped the Saints (32-0) forget a rather difficult anniversary. A year ago Friday, Thomas More’s 2014 season ended in the quarterfinals — and Moss tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. “I had surgery and I was ready to come back when we started practice in October,” said Moss, who bears a black brace on that knee. “I’m not 100 percent though, I’d say more about 85. I’m still a little slow,” she said with a sly grin. “It’s still hard to move side to side sometimes; I have to slide my feet.”

They’ll face off against George Fox, who returned to the title match with their 70-58 win over Montclair State.

“We are just elated to be going to the national championship game,” head coach Michael Meek said. “We have had nothing but fantastic support from our community back home and we use that as motivation when we play. This is just an awesome experience for these women and I can’t wait for us to play tomorrow night.”

From the good folks at D3Hoops: Title game is two perfect

Thomas More defeated Tufts on another record breaking night for Sydney Moss while  George Fox’s full court press wore down Montclair State, setting up an national title game between two undefeated teams.

You can catch the game here at 7:30pm.

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and while it doesn’t get the attention the DI – top 25 folks do, it’s still played with skill and a ton of passion.

NCAA Division III – They’ve reached the semis and four teams are headed to Grand Rapids Michigan.

March 20th, 5pm: Thomas More v. Tufts

About the Saints: 

By winning the program’s first sectional championship, these Saints have cemented their place in Thomas More history. They are far from satisfied, and remain focused on their mission to bring a national championship to Crestview Hills. In the midst of the celebration, 2014 graduate Katie Kitchen emotionally embraced her close friend and former teammate Wainscott.

“That’s what it’s about, keeping that tradition and playing for the people before you,” said Wainscott. “To accomplish something that she wanted so bad, nothing beats it.”

About the Jumbos:

The Tufts University women’s basketball team earned a return trip to the NCAA Championship “Final Four” with a 58-52 victory over defending national champion FDU-Florham in the quarterfinals today at Cousens Gym. “We’re so excited to be heading back to the Final Four,” said coach Carla Berube. It’s been a long journey from the end of last year, through the summer and in to pre-season.We’ve worked extremely hard, always together. It’s like a big family. We’re just so excited and so proud of the team.”

March 2oth, 7:30pm: George Fox v. Montclair State (Or, Scott Rueck’s former team v. Carol Blazejowski’s former team)

About the Bruins:

Morris drained five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points to help the George Fox Bruins win a battle of 30-0 teams on Saturday. No. 3 George Fox beat No. 6 Calvin College, the host school, 78-63 to advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four.

“We’re super excited about this opportunity,” Bruins coach Michael Meek said. “We knew this was going to be a difficult task to play Calvin. They have such a great program. I have so much respect for them.”

About the Red Hawks:

MSU (30-1), which also set a new single-season record for victories, will take on undefeated George Fox University (31-0) at 7:30 pm with unbeaten Thomas More (31-0) meeting Tufts (30-1) at 5:00 pm. The winners meet in the national championship game on Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 pm.

It will be the first appearance in the NCAA Division III Final Four for the Red Hawks. Montclair State played in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) Final Four in at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles in 1978 and placed third.

NCAA Division II – Third Round

Monday March 16th, 8pm: Union (TN) is baaaack… and they’ll face Nova Southeastern in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: California (PA) is baaack…and they’ll face Bloomsburg in a battle of 1 v. 3 seeds.

Monday, March 16th 7pm: Stonehill will face New Haven in a battle of 4 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 11pm: Cal Poly Pomona will face Cal Baptist in a battle of 7 v. 5 seeds.

In the other half of the bracket:

Monday, March 16th 8pm : They’re baaaaack… Emporia State will face Fort Hays in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monda, March 16th: West Texas A&M will face UC-Colorado Springs in a battle of 1 v. 2 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: Limestone will face Anderson (S.C) in a battle of 2 v. 3 seeds.

Monday, March 16th, 7pm: Ashland will face Lewis in a battle of 5 v. 2 seeds.

The quarterfinals start March 24th in Souix City, South Dakota.

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