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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Monday, February 25, 2008

Some teams heading South

Southern and its Lynch-pin
Like the men's season, the women's basketball teams are entering their final week of play.
For some area teams its been rather forgettable but for two others the journey has been a memorable.
Southern Connecticut State has embarked on a weird path. The Owls, after winning the national title last year, were ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll.
That may have been too high after a pair of starters quit the team before the season started. Still, Southern played well to open the season and seemed like a top 25 team after all. Then it all fell apart. The Owls apparently have never executed new head coach's Meghan Brown's defensive strategies and have slumped terribly down the stretch.
Southern has lost eight of its last 10 games and not only fell out of the top 25 but also slipped out of the top eight teams in the Division II Northeast rankings.
The top eight teams receive bids for the season-ending NCAA tournament.
And Southern will either be seeded eighth or ninth in the upcoming Northeast-10 tournament and most likely play the bulk of its tourney games on the road. It doesn't appear the Owls will even get a chance to defend their title.
One bright spot, however, has been the play of Kate Lynch. The senior forward needs just nine points to become the school's all-time leading scorer. Lynch is certainly a top choice for the Division II player of the year. Her toughest competition may be fellow NE-10 star, Johannah Leedham of Franklin Pierce.
Lynch has certainly done everything in her power to carry her team back to the NCAA's. Lynch averaged 26 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 steals and two assists per game over two games last week. She scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and recorded a steal against Massachusetts-Lowell on Feb. 19. Later, Lynch tallied a career-high 38 points to go with eight rebounds, six steals, one block and one assist at Saint Rose on Feb. 23. Lynch currently has 1,733 career points and needs just nine more points to surpass Kristen Breen’s school record of 1,741 points.
Still charging
New Haven has already wrapped up the East Coast Conference title. Led by Lauren Hood, the ECC's player of the week, the Chargers close out the regular season this Saturday, March 1 at St. Thomas Aquinas College. They will host the eighth seed in an ECC quarterfinal round matchup on Wednesday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m.
The Chargers will still need to win the ECC tournament to earn a berth in the NCAA but they have fabulous this season under second-year coach Jessica Smith. They have depth and Hood gives them a bonafide scorer.
UNH is 18-1 in the ECC after going 0-7 in the non-conference schedule. It has been a remarkable year.
The semifinals and finals of the ECC tournament will be held at Queens College in Flushing, N.Y.
In the Bobcats' claws
Quinnipiac finally defeated Sacred Heart last week and the win gives it a clear path to its first Northeast Conference title and a subsequent berth in the NCAA.
The Bobcats still have to win three more regular-season games to clinch the title but they face three of the cellar-dwellers in the conference.
Quinnipiac should clinch that title and then has to rev it up again for the NEC postseason tournament. The first two games of that tournament will be held at Long Island University with the final at the highest remaining seed. Thus Quinnipiac could host the tourney finale with an NCAA berth on the line.
If the Bobcats win the NEC, with its record of around 27-3, they could expect around a 12 or 13 seed in the tournament.
They are currently ranked 95th in the women's RPI rankings, which would most likely eliminate them from an at-large berth. But with 27 wins they shouldn't have to face a UConn right away. The fact of the matter is that they would lose to UConn by about 40 points but then again, everyone, including top 25 teams lose to the Huskies by that much.
Thus the committee should not put Quinnpiac in the 16th seed and have them face UConn at Bridgeport. That's not a reward, it's a punishment.

Here are the women's RPI ratings :

http://rpiratings.com/womrate.htm

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