Women’s Big East Notebook

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The women’s Big East Basketball Championship begins Friday, March 5 in Hartford, Conn., and as has been the case all season, the Connecticut Huskies are expected to roll to another Big East title.

The host Huskies wrapped up a No. 1 seed in the tournament with an easy 76-51 win at Notre Dame, with Tina Charles setting school-record marks in scoring (2,184 points) and rebounding (1,272).

“Tina Charles is an amazing player,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “She’s had a fantastic season.”

The Huskies earned their fourth straight regular-season title and will look to tie their own 70-game win streak record in their first tournament game.

The Huskies will play at 1 pm Sunday against the Providence vs. Seton Hall/Syracuse winner.

The 2010 championship field is based on regular-season league records, with the highest four seeds earning double byes into the quarterfinals on March 7. Teams finishing in spots 5 through 8 earn first round byes, while seeds 9 through 16 begin play in the first round on Friday.

West Virginia, Georgetown present toughest challenges

The Mountaineers beat the Hoyas 55-46 back on Feb. 14 in Morgantown, W. Va., and Georgetown will certainly be looking for revenge on a neutral court in a potential semifinal match-up on March 8.

The Mountaineers set a school record in overall and conference wins. West Virginia is also receiving its highest-ever ranking of No. 7 in the Associated Press poll.

Georgetown is the No. 3 seed after exceeding all preseason expectations. The Hoyas also notched a school record in both overall and conference wins, and earned their highest national ranking in program history at No. 12 in the AP poll and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

Historic win for St. John’s

The Red Storm have enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent memory, finishing the regular season 24-5 overall and 12-4 in conference play, tied with Notre Dame.

St. John’s earned a hard-fought 76-71 victory over Notre Dame on Feb. 16, and is currently ranked No. 16 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls. The rankings are the highest in program history and expectations have never been higher in Jamaica, N.Y.

The Fighting Irish, meanwhile, finished the regular season 25-4, but all four losses came in conference play after starting the season 15-0. Notre Dame has lost three of its last five games and will look to get back on track as it marches toward the NCAA tournament.

Rutgers, DePaul earn first-round byes

The Scarlet Knights and Blue Demons ended the regular season in a tie for sixth place with identical 9-7 marks in conference play. Rutgers will be the No. 6 seed by virtue of head-to-head competition during the regular season, while DePaul is the No. 7 seed.

In the conference opener for both teams, the Scarlet Knights beat DePaul 60-57 on Jan. 2. The Scarlet Knights will play in the 7 p.m. second-round game, while DePaul will play at 5 p.m. Both games are set for March 6.

Providence secures bye with Syracuse victory

The Friars topped Syracuse 71-69 on Jan. 19, which gave Providence the tie-breaker over the Orange and the No. 8 seed, meaning the Friars will have a first-round bye and play at 1 p.m. on March 6. The Friars earned their highest rank in the tournament since 2002.

Player to watch

Da’Shena Stevens, St. John’s, So., F

Stevens was the 2009 Big East freshman of the year last season, while averaging 11.9 points per game, second best on the team. Stevens has played even better this season, leading the Red Storm to an unexpected 24-5 season and leading the team in scoring and rebounding.

Points per game: 14.2

Rebounds per game: 7.7

Assists per game: 1.7

Field goal percentage: 47.1

Free throw percentage: 52.4

Total steals: 43

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