Boston U., UNH Begin Postseason Action Tonight
The Boston University and University of New Hampshire women's basketball teams will start postseason action tonight. The Terriers earned their third Postseason WNIT berth in four years, while the Wildcats are making their first postseason appearance since 1999 in the third annual Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI).
Thursday, March 15
Boston University at St. Joseph's (WNIT), 7 p.m.
New Hampshire at Holy Cross (WBI), 7 p.m.
Record Number of Postseason Berths
An America East record four teams will participate in postseason tournaments this season. This is the third time in four seasons in which at least three squads have advanced past the conference tournament and onto the national stage. This season, Albany will participate in the NCAA Tournament, Boston U. and Hartford will play in the Postseason WNIT, and New Hampshire will compete in the WBI. America East has had multiple teams in the postseason for eight straight seasons, tied with the Atlantic-10 for the longest such streak among non-BCS conferences.
Winning in the WNIT
The conference has been represented in the Postseason WNIT for eight straight seasons, with this year being the second time America East has sent two teams. Boston U. and Hartford both also competed in the tournament in 2009. America East teams are 6-13 (3.16) in the tournament with three of those wins coming since 2007. Hartford defeated Bucknell in 2007, Vermont beat Dartmouth in 2008 and Boston U. upended Central Connecticut State in 2009. All three of those games were on the America East team's home court, while America East teams have hosted WNIT games in five of the last six seasons including this season. The Catamounts advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002 when the tournament was comprised of just 32 teams. Vermont defeated Holy Cross in the first round and St. Joseph's in the second round before falling to Virginia Tech.
Terriers On Top
Boston U. garnered the league's automatic bid to the Postseason WNIT after winning the program's third-ever America East Regular Season crown. The Terriers finished with a 15-1 record in America East play and entered the conference tournament as the top seed also for the third time in program history. Boston U. fell to UMBC in the conference semifinals but will play in the WNIT as the top finishing America East team in the regular season not to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers will play at St. Joseph's in the opening round Thursday night at 7 p.m. This will be Boston U.'s third appearance in the WNIT, all coming over a four-year span, where the Terriers hold a 1-2 record.
Greenberg the Hall of Famer
Philadelphia is a place that holds a lot of memories and meaning to eighth-year Boston U. head coach Kelly Greenberg. She was most recently in Philadelphia just a few weeks ago for her induction into the Big 5 Hall of Fame. A native of the area, Greenberg attended Archbishop Wood High School in Philadelphia before attending La Salle University. There, Greenberg was a two-time All-Big 5 selection and helped the Explorers to three Big 5 Championships and NCAA Tournaments as a player from 1985-89. Greenberg also spent five years as the head coach at the University of Pennsylvania prior to becoming the Boston University head coach.
Alford Is All-In
Boston U. junior guard Chantell Alford has seemed to do it all in just three seasons with the Terriers. The West Haven, Conn. native won Rookie of the Year in 2010 before garnering Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2011. Alford now is a two-time recipient of the Player of the Year and takes her place for the third-straight year on the all-conference first team. She leads the Terriers with 12.5 points and 2.1 steals per game while also averaging 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game and shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc. Alford is just the second Terrier to ever win the Player of the Year Award after Jesyka Burks-Wiley became the first to do so in 2009.
Wildcats in the WBI
New Hampshire will make the program's second-ever postseason appearance, and first since 1999, when the Wildcats travel to take on Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. for the first round of the WBI. This is the third annual tournament, but it will be the debut for an America East team in the tournament. The 16-team field is split into an East and a West region with all games being played at campus sites in a single-elimination format.
You've Been 'Frame'd
One of America East's highest scorers and rebounders won't show up in the league's overall stats since she hasn't played in 75 percent of her team's games yet, but she is somebody that other teams will need to plan for. New Hampshire junior Morgan Frame, a 6-foot-1 forward named to the all-conference second team, was a midseason transfer last winter from St. Anselm College and was not eligible for the Wildcats until their Dec. 18 game against Rhode Island. She recorded double-doubles in each of her first two games in uniform, and scored 35 points in a win over Wagner on Dec. 21. In her 21 games with the Wildcats, Frame has become UNH's leading scorer with 16.3 ppg and second-leading rebounder with 7.5 rpg and has recorded seven double-doubles. Frame was not in the lineup in New Hampshire's Dec. 3 loss to the Crusaders, 61-50.
A trio of second-year coaches are making some noise around the league. Albany's Katie Abrahamson-Henderson led the Great Danes to the America East Championship crown after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches' poll. She's also led her team to its first 20-win season in the program's Division I history. New Hampshire head coach Maureen Magarity has also helped her team move up the ranks, finishing fourth after a sixth-place prediction during the preseason. The Wildcats accomplished their first winning season since 2005-06 and reached their first postseason tournament since 1999. Finally, Vermont's Lori Gear McBride has one of the most improved teams in the league despite the Catamounts' 4-12 league mark and seventh-place finish. Vermont matched last year's win total in just the first six games of the season and won six of its first seven games. Despite the devastating loss of two key upperclassman starters and regularly using three freshmen in the starting rotation, the Catamounts have given some of the veteran teams in the league trouble and matched last year's tournament seeding.