St. Joe's women still have a shot at NCAAs

Cindy Griffin and St. Joseph's will be in action Thursday in the Atlantic Ten tournament.
Cindy Griffin and St. Joseph's will be in action Thursday in the Atlantic Ten tournament. (TOM UHLMAN / AP)
Posted: March 05, 2014

When the snow stopped and daylight arrived Monday, the St. Joseph's women had reflected for a day.

It turns out that the 58-53 loss to Fordham at Hagan Arena a day earlier did not do much damage to the Hawks' chances of returning to the NCAA tournament.

The Hawks (21-8) dropped to a fifth seed for this week's Atlantic Ten tournament in Richmond, Va., where they will open Thursday against George Mason or Massachusetts.

But ESPN's Charlie Creme still had coach Cindy Griffin's team in the NCAA field as a ninth seed with no bubble status attached.

St. Joseph's ranking in the Ratings Percentage Index has been 10th to 14th, and its strength of schedule has also been in the top 20, two indicators used by the NCAA committee in determining the tournament field.

However, the Hawks still might need a bit of run in Richmond to avoid things getting a bit dicey.

The path is more difficult than it would have been if they had won Sunday and gained a third seed.

To defend their A-10 title, the Hawks now have an extra game to play in the first round after the play-in games Wednesday determine their opponent. They missed out on a bye straight to Friday's quarterfinals.

If they advance, they will have to meet a revived George Washington team that split with them in the regular season. Then the Hawks would more than likely have to face top-seeded Dayton, whom they upset in last season's semifinals.

"It certainly isn't the way we wanted it to go for sure, but with this you take it one game at a time," Griffin said.

"These kids have a championship in their repertoire because they've been there before, so the mentality is let's just win one at a time and let's get to the championship game.

"I would love to get to that game again and see what we can do just with the experience we have. Certainly we need to win the first one and that's our focus."

If the Hawks miss out on the NCAA tournament, they definitely should get a bid to the WNIT, which was won last year by Drexel.

Conference tourneys

La Salle (14-14) also could land in the WNIT. The seventh-seeded Explorers will open A-10 play Thursday against St. Louis.

A win over the Billikens would send the Explorers into Friday's contest against No. 2 seed St. Bonaventure, which lost to La Salle on Saturday at Tom Gola Arena.

Drexel (13-15) opens play in the Colonial Athletic Conference tournament next week in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Their seed for the CAA tourney will be determined Wednesday on Senior Night when the Dragons host Towson.

Temple (13-15) will play in the American Athletic Conference tournament, which begins Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

The top of the conference is dominated by top-ranked Connecticut and No. 3 Louisville.

Bright spots

The Villanova Wildcats (21-7, 11-6 Big East) are a team on the NCAA bubble.

Their RPI is respectable, but the Big East is no longer the superpower of the past after last summer's conference shuffles.

The good news, though, is that Villanova is capable of winning the conference tourney or getting to the title game this weekend in suburban Chicago.

At worst, they are a fifth seed going into Tuesday night's home game against visiting Marquette, which has Tyler Summitt, the son of former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, on the coaching staff.

A win on senior night would get Villanova a fourth seed.

DePaul won the regular-season title.

Penn (19-6, 9-2) is in a tie with Princeton for the Ivy League lead and the two meet each other in Princeton next Tuesday after each hosts Columbia and Cornell this weekend.

A Quakers sweep at the Palestra would guarantee an automatic bid to the WNIT.

Of course, the NCAA tournament is still in the Quakers' sights - quite a climb from 2010, when they won just two games in coach Mike McLaughlins first season.

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