LIMESTONE TO HOST WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
NCAA DIV. II SOUTHEAST REGIONAL TOURNAMENT!
Looking to defend its back-to-back regional championships, the nationally second-ranked Limestone College women's basketball team earned the top overall seed and has been selected to host the 2016 NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Tournament for a second straight year.
The NCAA unveiled Sunday night the field of 64 teams that will compete for the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship. The first three rounds of the tournament will be played at campus sites within the eight geographical regions.
The eight regional champions will then converge at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the next two rounds. As part of the larger 35th anniversary celebration of the NCAA women's basketball championship, the Division II National Championship Game will then be played at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Monday, April 4.
As it did last year, the road to the Elite Eight will come through Gaffney as Limestone will host the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the Timken Center. The Saints won the Southeast Regional Championship on their home court a season ago and advanced to the national semifinals in Sioux Falls.
The Blue and Gold will face eighth-seeded Augusta University in opening round action on Friday, March 11, at 5 p.m. Although they did not meet during the regular season, the Saints and Jaguars have played a home-and-home series in each of the past two years. Limestone knocked off then GRU Augusta 83-66 at the Timken Center in the 2013-14 season before posting a 70-50 decision in Augusta last year.
Sixth-seeded Wingate University will take on third-seeded Columbus State University to get the NCAA Southeast Regional underway at noon on Friday. Wingate, which won the South Atlantic Conference Tournament Championship earlier in the day, and No. 23 Columbus State both played in last year's regional in Gaffney.
Game number two will feature seventh-seeded Francis Marion University taking on second-seeded Lander University at 2:30 p.m. The Bearcats won the PBC Championship on Sunday and will be making a return trip to the NCAA Regional while the Patriots are back in the field for the first time since 2011.
Following the Limestone-Augusta game, fifth-seeded Anderson University will face fourth-seeded Clayton State University in the final game of the day at 7:30 p.m. The Trojans advanced to the regional championship game a year ago while the Lakers return to the regional after a one-year hiatus.
Second round action will commence on Saturday, March 12, starting the first semifinal game at 5 p.m. with the second semifinal game following at 7:30 p.m. The NCAA Southeast Regional Championship Game will be played at the Timken Center on Monday, March 14, at 7 p.m.
Coming off two straight NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, the Saints went a perfect 30-0 during the course of the 2015-16 campaign. Limestone clinched its fifth straight Conference Carolinas Regular Season Championship before winning its fourth tournament title in five years with a heroic 56-53 come-from-behind win over King on Friday.
Limestone, which has won 30 games in each of the past two seasons and is a combined 64-2 overall during that span, has played in three straight regional title games. The Saints won their first regional championship with a 74-55 win over Armstrong Atlantic in the 2014 tournament and then successfully defended the title at home last year with a 72-38 decision over Anderson.
First round action will get underway on Friday, March 11, at noon when Wingate squares off with Columbus State. Limestone will play Augusta at 5 p.m. to start the evening session.
(Article by Limestone College Sports Information. Photo of Amaura Brandt by Stacey Wiley.)