Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, February 19, 2009

With March Madness but a month away, it's time to take a look at some of the names that might be appearing on the dance card that maybe some of us aren't as familiar with. So without further ado, your Mid-Majors at Mid-Week report:

In the America East, the Terriers of Boston University are 11-0, having most recently disposed of the Wildcats of New Hampshire. It took them overtime to beat Binghamton on Wednesday night, 76-75. (But don't sleep on Jen Rizzotti's Hartford Hawks; the rematch at Hartford on February 24th most likely puts the winner in the driver's seat in this conference.)

In the Atlantic 10, the #16/#17 Xavier Musketeers remain undefeated, posting their 11th conference victory Wednesday afternoon by beating LaSalle 72-42- and that's with extremely limited support from double-double averaging Ta'Shia Phillips.

The Atlantic Sun is shaping up to be a thriller, as the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast have just a half game on the Bucs of East Tennessee State. The two teams have split their season series, each winning on the road. FGCU won their last game, but it took some doing versus Mercer. A-Sun player of the week Adrianne McNally and her team visit North Florida on Thursday.

In the Big Sky, it's Portland State, with an 11-1 conference record, holding the slightest of edges over the Lady Griz of Montana- and, at least as of right now, the tie-breaker, thanks to a January 29th win over Montana, but I'd put money on the regular-season title coming down to the rematch at Montana on March 7th.. Big Sky PotW Claire Faucher and her teammates are back in action Thursday at Northern Colorado.

Same old, same old in the Big South, where Megan Frazee and her Liberty University Flames are 10-0 in conference and on a 13-game winning streak after beating Winthrop on Monday, 63-48. Just another day at the office for Frazee: 22 points, 15 boards, and four assists. Next up: a visit to Coastal Carolina on Saturday.

The Gauchos of UC-Santa Barbara currently sit atop the Big West with an 11-0 mark, but UC-Riverside lurks just one game back. Jenna Green saved the day on Saturday versus Cal Poly as the Gauchos tamed the Mustangs 66-62. (Lovin' this coverage from Cal Poly, though!) It's off to Stockton for UCSB as they visit Pacific Thursday night, but the big game will be March 5th at Riverside.

What's more surprising about the Colonial, that Drexel's tied for first, or that Old Dominion is in fourth? Both the Dragons and the VCU Rams are 11-2, and holding a one-game lead on 10-3 James Madison. Both teams have finished with the Dukes for the regular season, VCU winning on Sunday 61-43, Drexel losing back on January 18th. The Dragons are led by six-time PotW. Gabriela Marginean, while the Rams are led by 1000/1000 club member Quanitra Hollingsworth. Next up: VCU hosts Georgia State, Drexel hosts Delaware.

Southern Mississippi currently holds a one-game lead over Southern Methodist and Central Florida in Conference USA. The Golden Eagles are 10-2 in C-USA after their 69-61 comeback win against Marshall in the Thundering Herd's Jam the Cam Pink Zone game. Two more road games await Southern Miss this week: Tulane on Thursday and UTEP (Pink Zone game! Pink Zone game!) on Saturday.

The perhaps bored Phoenix of Wisconsin-Green Bay hold sway in the Horizon at 13-0, two games ahead of Butler. A senior-anchored, defensive-minded squad, they went to Detroit and beat the Titans 59-44 this past Saturday. They're back in action tomorrow against UIC.

In the Ivy League, Dartmouth has a 7-0 record and a two-game lead on Harvard. The Big Green stretched their nine-game winning streak by beating Cornell on Saturday night, 55-36. Next up: a two-game homestand versus Penn on Friday night and Princeton on Saturday night.

Despite some unusual setbacks in conference play, Marist leads Canisius and the Metro Atlantic by two games with three to play. The 13-2 Red Foxes were last seen in a rather pink mid-major Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, escaping the Nutmeg State with a 78-73 overtime victory behind 27 and 12 from Rachele Fitz. Marist heads downstate to play Manhattan tomorrow night.

For the most part it's the usual suspects in the sub-divided Mid-American. Bowling Green leads the Eastern division with an 11-0 conference record, while Ball State, at 9-2, is fending off Toledo and Northern Illinois. (Speaking of Toledo, if you haven't read Dick Patrick's article on Naama Shafir, go. I'll wait.) Last time out, Bowling Green knocked off perhaps distracted Central Michigan 94-79 behind a school record 43 points from Lauren Prochaska (who then picked up her fifth PotW award). They'll be at Akron on Saturday.

In the MEAC, North Carolina A&T let their lead over Delaware State slip to just a single game on Monday night as they lost to the Hornets 68-66, splitting the season series and putting them at 11-1. Delaware State's description of the game as "a very, very, very big win" seems an understatement. Transfers Brittanie Taylor James (UCSB) and Amber Bland (Penn State) will lead the Aggies against Winston-Salem on Saturday.

Things have gone to the birds in the Missouri Valley. The Redbirds of Illinois State, at 11-1, are just a half-game up on the 11-2 Creighton Bluejays- and both have lost to those snake-bit Indiana State Sycamores. Last time out, though, Kristi Cirone and her team walloped Wichita State 94-68. Next up: Southern Illinois on Thursday night. The Valley takes its ball seriously; I fully expect the regular season title to come down to the Creighton-Illinois State rematch on March 7th, and the conference tournament to be one of the most exciting in the country.

At 10-1, Utah rules the roost in the Mountain West, but don't sleep on 8-3 San Diego State (you know, the other SDSU) or 8-3 TCU. The Utes took out their frustrations on Colorado State, beating the Rams Wednesday, 74-45. (Psst, CSU? Be careful what you wish for, k?) The Utes' next stop? Vegas, baby! They'll visit UNLV next Wednesday.

This conference is led by a Connecticut team that hasn't lost a game in conference play. If you said the Big East, you're wrong. It's the Northeast we're talking about here, and the team is Sacred Heart, 15-0 in NEC play after their 76-69 win over the Red Flash of St. Francis on Saturday. Kaitlin Sowinski and NEC PotW Alisa Apo lead the Pioneers. They visit Monmouth on Saturday afternoon, but the Monday night game against Central Connecticut State is the big one for the #1 seed in the NEC tourney.

In the Ohio Valley, Murray State has a half-game lead over Eastern Illinois. Last time out, the Racers beat Jacksonville State 71-56 behind 30 and 10 from five-time OVC PotW Ashley Hayes (she of the 46-point game). They embark on a two-game road trip to Southeast Missouri State on Thursday, following that with a critical showdown with Eastern Illinois on Saturday.

Big games in the Patriot on Wednesday: Lehigh beat Colgate 71-42, while Army dragged American to OT and knocked them out of their tie with the Mountain Hawks for first place. With the win, Lehigh clinches their first 20-win season in 19 years. Next on the agenda? A trip just down the road to Lafayette to renew their rivalry on Saturday night. (As an aside: gotta love a school that lists majors on the roster!)

Here's something you don't see every day: a tie in the Southern. Chattanooga finds themselves keeping company with Samford. Both teams play Western Carolina next- Chattanooga at home on Saturday, Samford at home on Monday (hope coach has a lot of pink!)- and then finish the season against each other at Samford. Both teams will be facing Western Carolina after victories: the Lady Mocs whomped Appalachian State 71-47 on Monday night, while the Bulldogs defeated Davidson 78-67 the same night.

In the Southland, Texas-San Antonio's 72-54 win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, behind Monica Gibbs's second triple-double in three games puts them back into a tie with Texas-Arlington for both the conference and division lead, as Southeastern Louisiana knocked off the Mavericks on Wednesday, 82-74. UTSA returns to action on Saturday versus Sam Houston State; Texas-Arlington will be at Central Arkansas the same night.

In the Southwest, Cynthia Cooper and Prairie View A&M are 11-1, two and a half games up on second-place Southern. They broke open a tie game in the second half to win 58-38 at Jackson State on Monday night. They'll host Mississippi Valley State on Saturday night.

This is the first year that #22/#18 South Dakota State is eligible for postseason play, and the Jackrabbits are taking advantage, sitting atop the Summit at 14-1. In their final home game of the regular seaso, the Jackrabbits walloped Southern Utah, 87-42 on Monday night. Next stop: Fargo, for a Saturday night tilt against North Dakota State.

#25 Middle Tennessee State is making noise, both inside the Sun Belt and outside. The Blue Raiders are undefeated in conference, extending their record to 15-0 with a 90-64 win over South Alabama on Wednesday night. Alysha Clark had just 30 points and 12 boards for her 50th career double-double. They'll be at Florida Atlantic this Friday night.

In the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga has a one-game lead on Portland- but the 1 in the Zags' 9-1 conference record came at Portland's hands. They had no such trouble with the University of San Francisco on Saturday, beating the Dons 71-35 in their Pink Zone game. They'll visit Loyola Marymount on Thursday.

Last, but certainly not least, in the Western Athletic, Fresno State has a one-win lead over Idaho- but Idaho has swept Fresno State this season. Fresno State bounced back from their third conference loss to beat Boise State 70-58 and nudge ahead of a tight WAC pack. Fresno State is off until the 27th, when they host Nevada. Idaho visits Nevada Thursday in the Wolf Pack's Pink Zone game.