Carolina women's basketball team finally found out who they will play
in their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 25 years, and they didn't
get any favors from the selection committee. The Lady Pirates were
seeded 13th in the Greensboro Regional and will face 4th seed Rutgers
Sunday, March 18th at 9:30 pm on ESPN2 or ESPNU. The game will be
played at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
Rutgers is ranked 15th in the final Associated Press poll with a 22-8
overall record. The Scarlet Knights enter the NCAA Tournament having
won three straight, including its first-ever BIG EAST Championship. The
Lady Knights beat number one seed Connecticut. In addition, Rutgers has
been triumphant in eight of its past nine games and 17 of its last 20
contests, so they come in as hot as ECU which has won 10 in a row.
Rutgers is no stranger to the post season. The Scarlet Knights will
play in their 18th NCAA Tournament. This marks RU's fifth consecutive
trip to the big dance, and it's their ninth appearance in the last 10
years, and that can be traced to the woman who has led the program at
New Jersey's state university for the past 12 seasons.
Rutgers is coached by C. Vivian Stringer. The Hall of Famer is known as
a master builder of basketball programs. She has catapulted three
different programs from obscurity to national prominence during her 35
years as a head coach.
Stringer was the first coach in men's or women's basketball history to
take three different schools to the Final Four: Cheyney University in
1982, The University of Iowa in 1993, and Rutgers in 2000, and she is
third on the all time wins list with 772 career victories.
Rutgers is a young team with no seniors and five freshmen on its
roster, but four players average double figure points. Junior Essence
Carson (Paterson, N.J.), the back-to-back BIG EAST Defender of the
Year, is averaging 12.9 points and 6.4 rebounds. Freshman guard
Epiphanny Prince (Brooklyn, N.Y.) is averaging 12.9 points per contest
and has knocked down a team-best 37 three-pointers. Sophomore center
Kia Vaughn (Bronx, N.Y.), has a 12.8 points per game average and paces
the team in rebounds (9.6) and blocks (2.6). Junior Matee Ajavon
(Newark, N.J.), the BIG EAST Championship Most Valuable Player, is
averaging 11.2 points per game.
ECU has three players averaging double figures led by senior Cherie
Mills, 14.9 points per game, and followed closely by Jasmine Young
(13.6) and LeCoya Terry (13.2). It will certainly be a tough game for a
young ECU team (six sophomores and two freshmen), but a great learning
experience for a program on the rise. Sharon Baldwin-Tenor is proving
herself as one of the up and coming coaches in the business.
And if the Lady Pirates can pull off the upset, they will face the
winner of the Michigan State/Delaware contest, but it's already been a
post season to remember for a program starving for success.