ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The No. 17 Marymount women's basketball team enters its 20th NCAA Tournament on Friday evening, taking on MIT in the opening round at the University of Rochester at 5 p.m. It's the first time in program history the two teams have squared off.
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How We Got Here
The Saints (24-3) rolled through the Capital Athletic Conference this season, winning by an average of 18.8 points per game, en route to a 17-1 regular-season tally and the program's league-record 13th conference title. The 17-1 record through the regular season matches the league record of victories in a single season, tying with the 2015 Salisbury squad that also went 17-1. It also topped the 2016 Marymount team that went 16-2 and won the CAC regular-season championship. With the CAC title, the Saints earned the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
How They Got Here
At 18-9 for the year, the Engineers pulled out a blockbuster NEWMAC Tournament with three-straight upsets to earn the program's first league title and punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Entering the league postseason as the fifth seed, they opened with an upset over fourth-seeded Springfield, 66-55. They then faced off in the semifinals against top-seed Smith, which again they came through for a double-digit upset, 64-51. In the championship, the Engineers took on second-seed WPI where they toughed out a four-point victory, 54-50. This is MIT's first NCAA appearance.
The Engineers, headed by 10th year coach Sonia Raman, look to their starting five for much of the offensive production, as they average 54.7 of the 62.1 points per game. Although they sparingly play off the bench, consistently playing just two or three, the lack of fouls committed by the Engineers plays into their favor. MIT currently ranks 12th in the country in personal fouls per game with 12.9. A team that looks for the long ball often has taken 477 three-point attempts this season compared to the 304 attempted by Marymount. As a team, MIT shoots 31.5 percent from beyond the arc led by junior Kara Holinksi with 54 three-pointers on 42.5-percent shooting. In terms of offensive scoring in general, junior Taylor V'Dovec paces the scoring for the Engineers, averaging 12.8 points per game.
Awards Are Rolling
Marymount followed up its league title with a handful of awards earlier this week, as Head Coach Ashlee Rogers was named CAC Coach of the Year for the third time in her eight years at the helm, while senior point guard Leah Hurst was tabbed the league's Player of the Year. Hurst was joined by sophomore Regan Lohr on First-Team All-CAC, and senior Nicole Viscuso was named Second Team.
For MIT, the NEWMAC honored five of the Engineers, headed by freshman Kylie Gallagher with Rookie of the Year. V'Dovec was named to First Team, and Holinksi and junior Dolly Yuan earned spots on Second Team. Lastly, senior Lindsay Westlake was named to the All-Sportsmanship team.
Other Side Of The Pod
Host Rochester takes on Stevens in the later game on Friday night with the winner advancing to play the winner between Marymount and MIT on Saturday in the second round. The Saints have yet to play Stevens, while they have met Rochester one other time in the NCAA Tournament back in 2004 when Rochester defeated the Saints, 61-57, in the Elite Eight.
Pending a victory, the Saints will advance to Saturday's second round against the winner of the other first-round matchup between Rochester and Stevens. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., in Rochester, New York.