Women’s Big East Notebook

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Player of the Week: Shoni Schimmel, Louisville

The freshman guard helped power the seventh-seeded Cardinals into the Spokane regional semifinal with two standout scoring performances in the first and second rounds.

Schimmel picked up 19 points in an 81-62 win over 10th-seeded Vanderbilt in the opening round. In Tuesday night’s second round matchup against Xavier, Schimmel led all scorers with 33 points, including six 3-pointers. The Cardinals upset the Musketeers on their home court — where they hadn’t lost since 2009 — in an 85-75 victory.

Game of the Week: DePaul Vs. Duke, Sunday March 27 1:30 p.m.

This Sweet 16 matchup features two high seeds who struggled in the second round. Both will be looking to solidify their status and regain some confidence with a spot in the Philadelphia regional final on the line.

The second-seeded Blue Devils rallied to survive an upset to 10th-seeded Marist at home with a 71-66 win. The third-seeded Blue Demons won a close one at sixth-seeded Penn State 75-73.

DePaul will face a Duke squad that won the ACC Tournament and will have to shut down the Blue Devils’ top tournament scoring threat, senior guard Jasmine Thomas, who scored 35 total points in the first two rounds.

The Blue Demons counter with junior forward Keisha Hampton, who picked up a game-high 26 points in the win over the Lady Lions.

Big East Better Represented On Women’s Side

The men of the Big East were subject to criticism over the weekend due to only two of their teams, Connecticut and Marquette, making the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. The conference lost nine of its 11 tournament squads, including first-seeded Pittsburgh, in the first and second rounds.

The Big East’s fortunes are quite different in the women’s bracket, however, as five of the nine teams chosen have reached their regional semifinals.

In the Philadelphia region, first-seeded Connecticut took care of business and advanced  to the Sweet 16 with a 64-40 victory over Purdue Tuesday night. For the conference rival Georgetown Hoyas, the team Connecticut will face in the Sweet 16, sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers scored 34 points in a 79-57 win over fourth-seeded Maryland.

Third-seeded DePaul moved on Monday night after a 26-point performance from junior forward Keisha Hampton rallied the Blue Demons to a 75-73 win over Penn State.

Second-seeded Notre Dame defeated 10th-seeded Temple 77-64 in the Dayton region Monday night, and in the Spokane region, seventh-seeded Louisville shocked second-seeded Xavier 85-75 Tuesday night.

While the women’s Big East may not have set records with the number of teams it sent, it is getting the most out of the squads that made the cut.  Even second-round loser Marquette gave top seed Tennessee a run for its money.  The Golden Eagles fell 79-70 to the Lady Vols in a game closer than the nine-point deficit would suggest. West Virginia also made the round of 32, losing to Baylor 82-68.

The female version of the toughest conference in college basketball also has one thing the men’s side doesn’t: a favorite to win it all in the Connecticut Huskies. As the tournament’s overall number one seed, Connecticut looks poised to complete its three-peat as national champion after two blowout victories in the opening rounds.

Notre Dame and DePaul continued to show their grit, while Louisville and Georgetown have risen above their expectations. Thanks to top performances from players like Rodgers and  the Cardinals’  freshman guard Shoni Schimmel, the Big East has two teams that could spring some more upsets as the tournament progresses.

Overall, the women have shown that it’s quality, not quantity, that leads to conference success in the NCAA Tournament.

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