Last weekend, as many of the BCS Conferences were wrapping up their conference tournaments in nationally televised championship games, many of the mid-major leagues around the country were still putting the finishing touches on their regular seasons. As a result, over the weekend and early this week, a plethora of mid-major conferences across the nation tipped off their league tournaments, joining the nine that got underway last week. So, to those women's basketball fans at a loss for something to watch now that the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, et al., conferences have crowned their tournament champions, take notice: There is still plenty of quality basketball out there to tune in to between now and Monday's NCAA Tournament Selection Show.
Let's take a quick look at the March Madness newcomers (in chronological order of tournament start date):
When and Where: Saturday, March 8, through Tuesday, March 11; McGrath-Phillips Arena at DePaul (two first-round games), Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill. (quarterfinals through final)
2013 Champion: Notre Dame (now in the ACC)
Top Seeds: 1. DePaul; 2. St. John's; 3. Creighton; 4. Villanova
The Skinny: Regular-season champion DePaul comes in having won four straight and 12 of its last 13 games to overtake a St. John's team that faded down the stretch. As a result, the bubble watch is on for the Red Storm and Creighton as both likely need strong showings here to secure at-large bids. Of the current Big East members, only Villanova (2004) and Providence (1990) have the title over the past 25 years. During the 1980s, St. John's won three Big East titles, including the first two (1983, 84), and Villanova won two.
Outcome: DePaul 65, St. John's 57. The top-seeded Blue Demons steamrolled their way to Tuesday's title game, as seed held throughout most of the tournament. Second-seeded St. John's (22-10) suffered a scare in the semis, as third-seeded Creighton (19-13) took the Red Storm to double overtime before succumbing, 68-63. Fifth-seeded Marquette (21-10) accomplished the sole "upset" of the tournament, bumping off the four-seed, Villanova (22-8), 56-53, in the quarterfinals, to send the Golden Eagles into a 100-90 semifinal footrace with DePaul.
This was the first Big East tournament champion for DePaul (27-6), but then again, this is also the first year that the Big East has been in its current configuration, absent many of the perennial heavy hitters, such as UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville and Rutgers.
When and Where: Saturday, March 8, through Tuesday, March 11; Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, S.D.
2013 Champion: South Dakota State
Top Seeds: 1. South Dakota State; 2. IUPUI; 3. Fort Wayne; 4. South Dakota
The Skinny: South Dakota State has won the last five Summit titles but has typically had to work to claim the crown. The Jackrabbits' last four championship-game victories have come by seven points or less and two of the games were decided in overtime. IUPUI dealt South Dakota State its lone Summit League loss on Feb. 8 to gain a split of the season series.
Outcome: South Dakota 82, Denver 71. The title game was a match-up of conference underdogs: Fourth-seeded South Dakota knocked off the reigning champions and this year's top seed, South Dakota State (22-9), in the semifinals, and it wasn't even close: The Coyotes led from tip to final buzzer and led by as many as 23 pointson their way to a 72-58 upset of the Jackrabbits, who might have been regretting their two-round bye straight into the semis. On the opposite side of the bracket, sixth-seeded Denver (9-23) also upset the conference two-seed, IUPUI (22-9), but had to work harder to hammer out its 76-69 overtime victory.
With the tournament title and the Summit League's automatic bid, South Dakota (19-13) will be making its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Both South Dakota State and, to a lesser extent, IUPUI (due to a dearth of signature wins), have the records to remain on the bubble, but the semifinal tournament losses didn't help them any.
When and Where: Sunday, March 9, Wednesday, March 12, and Sunday, March 16, at higher seed (Championship Game to air on ESPNU at 3 p.m. EDT)
2013 Champion: Quinnipiac (now in the MAAC)
Top Seeds: 1. Robert Morris; 2. Mount St. Mary's; 3. St. Francis; 4. Bryant
The Skinny: Led by two-time NEC Player of the Year Artemis Spanou, Robert Morris transformed itself from a 10th-place team a year ago to the top dog this season. The tournament's format will also aid the Colonials. The event is re-seeded after the quarterfinals so Robert Morris will face the lowest seed remaining. In addition, they'll play every game at home, and Robert Morris was 9-0 against conference foes in its own building this season.
Progress to Date: Top-seeded Robert Morris (20-11, 14-4) put away No. 4-seed Bryant (17-14, 11-7), 72-67, behind a 24-point, 12 rebound double-double from Artemis Spanou, in Wednesday's semifinal to advance to Sunday's championship game for the first time since 2008. There they will face third-seeded Saint Francis University (15-16, 11-7), which knocked out the two-seed, Mount St. Mary's (19-15, 13-5), 68-63, in Wednesday's second semi.
When and Where: Monday, March 10; Wednesday, March 12; Friday, March 14; Sunday, March 16, at higher seed (Championship game to air at 1 p.m. EDT on ESPNU)
2013 Champion: Green Bay
Top Seeds: 1. Green Bay; 2. Wright State; 3. UIC; 4. Youngstown State
The Skinny: Green Bay has won three straight Horizon titles and 12 overall, but the Phoenix had a tougher-than-usual go of it in league play this season, including being swept by a conference opponent (Youngstown State) for the first time since 2005-06. Also, Green Bay's two victories over Wright State came by two points and in overtime. In other words, even with homecourt advantage, the Phoenix will likely be tested severely in their quest for a fourth-straight crown.
Progress to Date: All four of the top seeds have advanced to Friday's semifinals, where Green Bay will take on UIC and Wright State will face off against Youngstown State.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC)
When and Where: Monday, March 10, through Saturday, March 16; Scope Arena, Norfolk, Va.
2013 Champion: Hampton
Top Seeds: 1. Hampton; 2. North Carolina A&T; 3. Coppin State; 4. Florida A&M
The Skinny: Hampton has won the last four MEAC titles, currently has a 46-game winning streak against conference opponents and will be playing a 20-minute drive from its campus. Last Thursday, however, North Carolina A&T took the Lady Pirates to the limit before falling 54-51 at Hampton in the teams' lone regular-season meeting. The result injects some drama into the proceedings should both teams meet again in the final.
Progress to Date: After cruising to a 71-55 win over eighth-seeded Howard in Wednesday's quarterfinals, top-seeded has advanced to Friday's semifinal where it awaits the winner of Thursday's quarterfinal matchup between Savannah State and Florida A&M. On the opposite side of the bracket, No. 2-seed North Carolina A&T has also advanced to the semis, after defeating the seventh-seed, Bethune-Cookman, 78-46, on Wednesday. They will face the winner of Thursday's other quarterfinal between No. 3-seed Coppin State and 11th-seeded Maryland Eastern Shore.
When and Where: Monday, March 10; Wednesday, March 12, through Saturday, March 15; Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
2013 Champion: Central Michigan
Top Seeds: 1. East - Bowling Green; 2. West - Central Michigan
The Skinny: Bowling Green and Central Michigan, which split the season series, both have NCAA at-large prospects. Of course, as is the case with most team outside of the BCS conferences, these teams would need things to break just right to get such a nod from the selection committee so the focus needs to be exclusively on winning this event. A darkhorse could be Akron, which started out 1-3 in league play before ripping off 13 straight victories.
Progress to Date: The tournament has held largely to seed, with the East's top seed Bowling Green slated to meet Ball State in Friday's first semifinal and the West's frontrunner Central Michigan taking on Akron in the second. The two top seeds earned byes into the semis, but neither Ball State nor Akron has had to break much of a sweat thus far. Third-seeded Akron easily defeated its quarterfinal opponent, sixth-seeded Toledo, 83-69, while the fifth-seeded Ball State staged a mini-upset, putting away fourth-seeded Buffalo, 74-60, in Thursday's early-afternoon quarterfinals to advance to Friday's semifinals.
When and Where: Monday, March 10; Tuesday, March 11, Friday, March 14, Saturday, March 15; Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
2013 Champion: Fresno State
Top Seeds: 1. Colorado State; 2. Fresno State; 3. Nevada; 4. Boise State
The Skinny: Second-year head coach Ryun Williams guided Colorado State, which was picked preseason to finish seventh, to its first conference regular-season title in 12 years. The Rams hadn't finished higher than third place in any season over that span. Fresno State, which formerly played in the WAC, has won a conference tournament title in five of the last six years.
Progress to Date: Fifth-seeded Wyoming knocked out the four-seed, Boise State, 61-56, in Tuesday's quarterfinals. In Tuesday's other tournament action, No. 2 Fresno State advanced easily over seventh-seeded UNLV, 80-65, while top-seeded Colorado State repelled an intense effort from eighth-seeded Utah State, 72-67, and the three-seed, Nevada, survived a low-scoring but relatively close challenge from sixth-seeded San Diego State, 53-48. Colorado State will take on Wyoming in the first of Friday's semifinals, while Fresno State faces Nevada in the second semi.
When and Where: Tuesday-Wednesday, March 11-12, at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif; Friday-Saturday, March 14-15, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
2013 Champion: Cal Poly
Top Seed: 1. Cal State Northridge; 2. Cal Poly; 3. Hawaii; 4. UC Irvine
The Skinny: The outright Big West regular-season title is the first in program history for the Matadors and it earns them a bye until the semifinals. Last year, Cal Poly won the tournament for the first time and advanced to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.
Progress to Date: It took extra minutes for fourth-seeded UC Irvine to handle the Big West's fifth seed, UC Davis, 74-70, in Tuesday's quarterfinal action, while No. 3-seed Hawaii survived a challenge from homestanding sixth-seeder, Long Beach State, 52-49, to move on. In the end, however, all four of the regular season's top seeds will be appearing in Friday's semifinals, with top-seeded CSUN (which, like second-seeded Cal Poly, earned a bye into the semifinals) taking on UC Irvine in the first of the day's contests, and Cal Poly meeting Hawaii in the second.
When and Where: Tuesday, March 11 (quarterfinals); Saturday, March 15 (semifinals); Sunday, March 16 (final), all at higher seed
2013 Champion: Stetson
Top Seeds: 1. Florida Gulf Coast; 2. Stetson; 3. USC Upstate; 4. Jacksonville (Note: Northern Kentucky finished third at 13-5 in regular-season Atlantic Sun Conference play but is ineligible for the tournament due to reclassification)
The Skinny: Stetson, which has won two of the last three A-Sun tournament titles, snapped Florida Gulf Coast's 41-game winning streak against conference foes in the 2013 final. FGCU took the tournament's top seed after beating Stetson in a 74-73 overtime nailbitter of a regular-season finale to finish conference play at 17-1, to Stetson's 16-2. All signs point to yet another championship game matchup between these two on March 16.
Progress to Date: FGCU dispatched eighth-seeded Lipscomb, 92-53, and Stetson strolled past seventh-seeded Kennesaw State, 73-56, in Tuesday's quarterfinals and remain on course for a title round rematch. Standing in the way for FGCU is fifth-seeded Mercer, which upended the four-seed, Jacksonville, 59-36, while Stetson will needed to get past USC Upstate, which handled ETSU, 76-66, in Tuesday's other quarterfinals.
Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)
When and Where: Tuesday, March 11, through Saturday, March 15; Toyota Center, Houston, Tex.
2013 Champion: Prairie View A&M
Top Seed: 1. Southern; 2. Texas Southern; 3. Jackson State; 4. Prairie View A&M
The Skinny: Southern will play in the tournament but is ineligible for NCAA Tournament play because of APR penalties. If Southern wins, the losing finalist will get the conference's automatic NCAA bid. Prairie View has won three straight, four of the last five and five of the last seven SWAC titles but will start out as a No. 4 seed this time.
Progress to Date: Texas Southern will meet Jackson State in the first of Friday's semifinals. Top-seeded Southern awaits the winner of Thursday's quarterfinal meeting between fourth-seeded Prairie View A&M and the fifth seed, Alabama State.
When and Where: Tuesday, March 11, through Saturday, March 15; Memorial Gym, El Paso, Texas (first three rounds); Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas (semifinals and final)
2013 Champion: Tulsa
Top Seeds: 1. Middle Tennessee State; 2. Southern Miss; 3. UTEP; 4. Tulane
The Skinny: Middle Tennessee State may have a strong enough resume to get invited to the NCAAs without winning this tournament, but again, no non-BCS conference team should count on this. That UTEP is hosting the event is a huge edge for the Miners, particularly if star forward Kayla Thornton is back in form. Thornton sat out UTEP's final three games after sustaining a concussion. How important is the homecourt in this league? Tulsa, which hosted the 2013 event, was seeded sixth and began the tournament with a 13-16 record. The Golden Hurricane then became the third CUSA team to win four games in four days to take the title (TCU in 2003; UCF in 2009) and the lowest seed ever to do so.
Progress to Date: In perhaps the biggest upset in any of this year's tournament games, lowly Florida International (14-17, 6-10), Conference USA's 13th-seed, upset fourth-seeded Tulane, 69-55, in Thursday's early quarterfinals, to book a date with top-seeded Middle Tennessee in Friday's semifinals. Of course, when you're looking to make a statement, it doesn't hurt to have sharpshooting Jerica Coley, who scored 34 points in the upset to bring her career tally to 3,088, on your roster. It might not have seemed like a very big deal when FIU rolled over 12th-seeded Rice, 85-65, in the opening round, but the Panthers were definitely making some noise by the time they sent home the No. 5-seed East Carolina State, 87-75, in the second round on Wednesday.
MTSU rallied back from a late-game challenge from eighth-seeded Alabama-Birmingham to take a 69-59 win behind a 29-point, 15-rebound double-double from Ebony Rowe.
The other half of the bracket remains up in the air, as Thursday's later quarterfinals feature UTEP, which faces another tournament upstart, Louisiana Tech, the No. 14-seed, which bumped out fifth-seeded Charlotte in the second round, 64-55; and Southern Mississippi, which takes on once powerful seven-seed Old Dominion, which nosed past the 15-seed UTSA,79-74, in their second-round meeting.
When and Where: Wednesday, March 12; Friday, March 14, through Saturday, March 15; Lakefront Arena, New Orleans, La. (Semifinals and final to air on ESPN 3)
2013 Champion: Middle Tennessee State (now in Conference USA)
Top Seeds: 1. Arkansas State; 2. Western Kentucky; 3. UALR; 4. Texas State
The Skinny: Arkansas State clinched the Sun Belt regular-season title for the first time since 2002-03. With the departure of Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky (eight times, most recently in 2003) and UALR (2011, 2012) are the only current members to have won this tournament. Western Kentucky will play in Conference USA next season.
Progress to Date: The top seeds all held serve in Wednesday's opening round, with only second-seeded Western Kentucky having to break much of a sweat to get past the seventh seed, Louisiana-Lafayette, 67-61. That sets up Friday's meetings between No. 1 Arkansas State and No. 4 Texas State in the first semifinal, and between No. 2. Western Kentucky and No. 3 UALR in the second.
Western Athletic Conference (WAC)
When and Where: Wednesday, March 12, through Saturday, March 15; Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
2013 Champion: Idaho
Top Seeds: 1. Idaho; 2. Bakersfield; 3. Seattle; 4. Texas-Pan American (Note: Grand Canyon finished third in the WAC regular season at 10-6 but is ineligible for postseason play in its first year in the league)
The Skinny: Of the current WAC members, only Idaho has ever won the tournament title. The revolving door WAC has 26 former full members and on July 1, Idaho the only current member to have ever won the league tournament will become the 27th when it joins the Big Sky. The Vandals aren't necessarily a lock to repeat, though, as Bakersfield handed them a 19-point loss at Idaho less than a month ago.
Progress to Date: Fifth-seeded New Mexico State took out the fourth seed, Texas-Pan American, 86-74, in Wednesday's quarterfinals. Apart from that, all the top seeds advanced Friday's semifinals, where No. 1 Idaho will take on No. 5 New Mexico in the day's opener, and No. 2 Bakersfield will square off with No. 3 Seattle in the second of the day's games.
When and Where: Thursday, March 13, through Saturday, March 15, at regular-season champion
2013 Champion: Montana
Top Seed: 1. North Dakota (Tournament host); 2. Southern Utah; 3. Montana; 4. Eastern Washington.
The Skinny: Southern Utah and North Dakota tied for the regular-season championship with both teams finishing 15-5 in league play. Top-seeded North Dakota earned a bye into the semifinals, and playing at home will certainly help, but while North Dakota is the top seed, the team has five league losses and fell by 20 points last Thursday at Southern Utah. Obviously Southern Utah looms as a serious player in this event, and one should never count out Montana, which has won four of the last six Big Sky titles and 20 overall. The other current members have combined to win nine since the tournament began in 1983.
Progress to Date: In their first-ever Big Sky tournament victory, Southern Utah defeated Sacramento State, 86-78, on Thursday, to advance to Friday's semifinals. There, they will face the highest remaining seed from Thursday's quarterfinal match-ups between No. 3 Montana v. No. 6 Montana State and No. 4 Eastern Washington v. No. 5 Idaho State. North Dakota will face the lowest remaining seed from those games in its Friday semi.
Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)
When and Where: Thursday, March 13, through Sunday, March 16; Show Place Arena, Upper Marlboro, Md.
2013 Champion: Delaware
Top Seeds: 1. James Madison; 2. Delaware; 3. College of Charleston; 4. Drexel
The Skinny: Save for a perplexing 85-78 loss at Charleston, JMU blitzed all comers in CAA play. Fourteen of their 15 conference wins came by double figures, including a 36-point rout of Delaware, a 27-point pasting of Drexel and a 32-point drubbing of Charleston in the teams' other meeting. The second Charleston game proves that anything is possible, but the Dukes go into this event as one of the most prohibitive favorites of all the postseason tournaments. And even if the unlikely occurs and the Dukes are eliminated, their strong non-conference showing - victories over St. John's, Virginia and UCLA and a three-point loss at North Carolina - makes JMU a strong at-large candidate.
Progress to Date: Ninth-seeded UNCW played its way into the tournament on Thursday with a 67-65 win over eighth-seeded William & Mary. They'll be first up for JMU in Friday's quarterfinals, while No. 2 Delaware faces No. 5 Northeastern, No. 3 Charleston takes on No. 6 Towson and No. 4 Drexel meets No. 5 Hofstra in the day's other quarterfinal matches.
When and Where: Thursday, March 13, through Sunday, March 16; Family Arena, St. Charles, Mo.
2013 Champion: Wichita State
Top seeds: 1; Wichita State; 2. Indiana State; 3. Northern Iowa; 4. Evansville
The Skinny: In a league where parity typically rules, the top three seeds go into this year's tournament essentially on equal footing, each having carried a 13-4 record into the final weekend of the season. Last year Wichita State became the seventh different school to win this title over the past eight years, following Creighton (2012), Northern Iowa (2011, 2010), Evansville (2009), Illinois State (2008), Drake (2007) and Missouri State (2006).
Progress to Date: No. 8 Loyola overcame No. 9 Bradley, 75-69, to face No. 1 Indiana State in Friday's quarterfinals. No. 7 Missouri State advanced over No. 10 Southern Illinois, 61-39, to meet No. 2 Wichita State. In Friday's other two quarterfinal games, No. 3 UNI meets No. 6 Illinois State, and No. 4 Evansville takes on No. 5 Drake.
When and Where: Thursday, March 13, through Sunday, March 16; Leonard E. Merrell Center, Katy, Texas (Semifinal games will be carried on ESPN3; the Championship game will air on CBS Sports Network)
2013 Champion: Oral Roberts
Top Seed: 1. Lamar; 2. Stephen F. Austin; 3. Central Arkansas; 4. Northwestern State
The Skinny: That every conference team will begin tournament play with at least five league losses suggests this looms as the most wide-open of all the postseason tournaments. Defending champ Oral Roberts, which prevailed in its first season in the Southland a year ago, is seeded 8th this year. Houston Baptist, Southeastern Louisiana and Sam Houston State did not qualify for the eight-team tournament while Abilene Christian, Incarnate Word (UIW) and New Orleans are ineligible.
Progress to Date: The top two seeds earned byes into Saturday's semifinals. No. 5 Nicholls knocked out the reigning tournament champion, Oral Roberts, 77-67, in Thursday's opening round. Nicholls will face fourth-seeded Northwestern State on Friday for the right to take on top-seeded Lamar in the first of Saturday's semis. No. 7 McNeese State overcame sixth-seeded A&M - Corpus Christi, advancing to Friday's quarterfinal against third-seeded Central Arkansas, with the winner to meet second-seeded Stephen F. Austin in Saturday's second semifinal.
Players to Watch
Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee: A second-team Academic All-American, Rowe had 23 double-doubles to her name in a season when she became MTSU's all-time leading scorer. The first-round WNBA prospect averages 21.4 ppg and 11.6 rpg while shooting .532 percent from the field.
Kirby Burkholder, James Madison: Coach Kenny Brooks wasn't sure the 6-foot forward was really a Division I player four years ago. Now she's the best in the Colonial Athletic Association, averaging 19.1 ppg and 8.1 rpg for a Dukes team that almost certainly will advance to NCAA play.
Crystal Bradford, Central Michigan: The MVP of the 2013 MAC Tournament and one of the most versatile players in the nation, the 6-foot junior is one of only two players in Division I lead her team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. She is also the first player in MAC history to record two triple-doubles in a season.
Alex Harden, Wichita State: The 5-11 junior is a serious candidate to earn both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Missouri Valley. A year ago Harden averaged 20.7 points and earned tournament MVP honors while leading the Shockers to the Missouri Valley Tournament title.
Artemis Spanou, Robert Morris: The 6-2 center and native of Greece earned her second straight NEC Player of the Year award after averaging 19.2 points and 14.9 rebounds this season. She is one of seven players in Division I history to eclipse career totals of 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 blocks. She also has a streak of 33 consecutive double-doubles, the second-longest in D-I history.
Results of Last Week's Mid-Major Tournament Action (See Mid-Major Tournaments Preview (Part I) for conference breakdowns)
Seven teams from mid-major conferences whose tournaments got underway last week have already punched their tickets to the Big Dance, with the Patriot League's final queues up and ready to go. Taking a quick look at the results of those tournaments:
When and Where: Final, Saturday, March 15, at West Point, N.Y. (The title game will be carried on CBS Sports Network)
Progress to Date: Fifth-seeded Holy Cross topped the Patriot League's top seed, Navy, 75-56, in Monday's semifinals behind a career high 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds from senior guard Brisje Malone. The Crusaders advance to Saturday's championship game at West Point, where they will face second-seeded Army. With four players in double figures, the Black Knights had little trouble handling the No. 3 seed American, 68-55, in its Monday semi, to move on to the title game. Army's 24-7 overall record is already its best since joining Division I.
Final Results: No. 3 Winthrop 87, No. 1 High Point 74 -- Winthrop (24-8) won its first Big South Tournament Championship in school history, upsetting top-seeded High Point (22-10) in last Sunday's title game. Three-time Big South Player of the Year Dequesha McClanahan (Winthrop) was named tournament MVP after leading Winthrop to victory with 24 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four steals. McClanahan, the Big South's all-time leading scorer, averaged 21 points per game in Winthrop's three games in the tournament. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by her Winthrop teammate Erica Williams, High Point's Stacia Robertson and Kylah Keys, and Coastal Carolina's Angelica Henry.
Final Results: No. 1 UT Martin 78, No. 2 Belmont 66 -- UT Martin (24-7) notched its fourth consecutive Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title after putting away second-seeded Belmont in last Saturday's championship game. Jasmine Newsome led all scorers with 25 points for the winning side; three Skyhawks joined her in double figures. Newsome took tournament MVP honors. UT Martin's Heather Butler, Belmont's Jordyn Luffman and Katie Carroll, and Eastern Kentucky's Marie Carpenter joined Newsome on the All-Tournament Team. According to Butler, while winning the tournament championship and with it the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid was "an amazing feeling," it is not enough; this team is hungry and won't be satisfied until they get to the NCAA Tournament and "win a game and continue to prove ourselves to everybody."
Final Results: No. 3 Fordham 63, No. 1 Dayton 51 -- Third-seeded Fordham (25-7) earned the second NCAA Tournament bid in school history and its first since 1994 by upsetting heavily favored and nationally ranked Dayton (23-7) in last Sunday's Atlantic 10 championship game. The Rams, who had losted by a single point to Saint Joseph's in the 2013 final and were resolved not to let history repeat itself, got double-doubles from seniors Erin Rooney (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Abigail Corning (12 points, 11 boards) and exploited a 48-33 rebounding advantage (including 18 off the offensive glass) and scored 30 points in the paint. A-10 Player of the Year Andrea Hoover posted 22 points for the Flyers, who are considered a likely at-large NCAA Tournament bid.
Final Results: No. 1 Gonzaga 71, No. 2 BYU 57 -- Top-seeded Gonzaga (29-4) took the West Coast Conference Tournament title for the sixth time in the last seven years, taking a 16-point first-half lead over second-seeded BYU (26-6) and coasting home for the victory in Monday's championship game. BYU struggled in the face of the Zags' pressure defense. Gonzaga's Sunny Greinacher was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Bulldog teammates Jazmine Redmon and Lindsay Sherbert joined Greinacher on the All-Tournament Team; as did BYU's Jennifer Hamson, the WCC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, who led all scorers in the title game with 24 points to go with seven rebounds and three blocked shots, and Pacific's Kiki Moore.
Final Results: No. 2 Marist 70, No. 4 Quinnipiac 66 -- After fourth-seeded Quinnipiac (21-12) knocked out the tournament's top seed Iona (26-5), 79-68, in Sunday's semifinal, second-seeded Marist (27-6), the regular-season co-champion along with Iona, came from behind to take the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's tournament title with a 70-66 victory over the Bobcats in Monday's hard fought title game. Marist took an early 16-10 lead, but the Bobcats battled back, closing out the opening half on a 25-8 run to take a 35-24 lead into the break. Though the Red Foxes chipped away throughout the second half, Quinnipiac held onto the lead until the a Tori Jarosz layup put Marist on top, 59-58, with 5:45 to go. In the final minutes, Marist poured on the defense, forcing a Bobcat shot clock violation with 14.7 remaining and the Red Foxes clinging to a one-point, 67-66, lead. Marist nailed its free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Tournament Most Valuable Player Sydney Coffey scored a game-high 23 points for Marist in the win. Brittany McQuain, who led Quinnipiac with 20 points, was named to the All Championship team, as were her Bobcats teammate Samantha Guastella, Marist's Emma O’Connor and Casey Dulin, and Iona's Damika Martinez.
Final Results: No. 1 Albany 70, No. 2 Stony Brook 46 -- Top-seeded Albany captured its third-straight America East Tournament title with a 70-46 rout of Stony Brook in Monday's championship game. The Great Danes are just the fourth program in league history to achieve the tournament title three-peat. Albany's Shereesha Richards took Most Outstanding Player honors after posting a game-high 26 points on 11-15 field-goal shooting. Albany teammate Megan Craig joined Richards on the All-Tournament Team, as did Stony Brook's Jessica Ogunnorin and Chikilra Goodman, and Hartford's Amber Bepko.
Final Results: No. 1 Chattanooga 71, No. 3 Davidson 45 -- In another rout, Chattanooga (29-3), the Southern Conference's top seed, eviscerated No. 3-seed Davidson (16-16), 71-45, Monday to take home its 15th SoCon tournament crown. The Mocs were led by Alex Black, who put up a game-high 22 points, and Taylor Hall, who added 12 points, plus seven rebounds and five assists. With the win, first-year Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster became the first in NCAA Division I to lead four different teams to the NCAA Tournament -- Chattanooga, Ohio State, Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph's. Hall was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player; Black joined her teammate on the All-Tournament first team, along with Davidson's Dakota Dukes and Laura Murray, and Western Carolina's Justin Taylor. The All-Tournament Second Team included Ashlen Dewart (Chattanooga), Kelsey Harris (Elon), Sarah Durdeller (Furman), Anna Claire Knight (Georgia Southern) and Rena Wakama (Western Carolina).
- 2014 Mid-Major Conference Tournaments Preview (Part I)
- Shereesha Richards: Albany soph shoots lights out of America East
- San Diego, Marist excel in preconference play: Non-BCS programs make their cases for NCAA Tournament bids