The University of Dayton women’s basketball team is back in the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year after it received a seven-seed during the ESPN selection show on Monday, March 18.
Dayton will square off against No. 10-seed St. John’s University out of the Big East Conference. The first round game will be played on Sunday, March 24, with tip-off scheduled roughly for 2:30 p.m. at Carnesecca Arena. The game will be televised regionally on ESPN2.
The Flyers received an at-large bid to the tournament after capping off a 27-2 record with a loss in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 conference tournament to eventual champion St. Joseph’s University.
UD’s first round games will be played in Queens, N.Y, which is a part of the Bridgeport, Conn. Region. The other two teams in the region are the second-seeded University of Kentucky, and No. 15-seed Navy. The winner of the two games will face off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, for a trip to the Sweet 16.
The seven seed for the Flyers may come as a surprise to some, as ESPN “Bracketology” expert Charlie Creme had UD as high as a four-seed in his final prediction of the season. However, the team’s actual seeding comes as no surprise to head coach Jim Jabir.
“I think [everyone] predicted, but me, that we would be a three or four seed, and seven is probably around what I thought,” Jabir said. “I like where we are, and I think the kids are working really hard and I’m excited about the possibilities.”
For Jabir, the game also represents a sort of homecoming for the coach, who is a Brooklyn, N.Y., native.
St. John’s enters the game after an 18-12 season, including an 11-5 record in the Big East. SJU is led by senior guard Shenneika Smith, who averages 16.7 points per game, as well as having a team high 49 steals this season. Another top contributor is senior guard Nadirah McKenith, who averages 12.9 points a game.
According to redshirt senior forward Brittany Wilson, St. John’s is a very similar team to Dayton.
“St. John’s has the same plan as us,” she said. “They’re kind of a run-and-gun team, so I think it’ll be a really good game.”
For the Flyers, this bid represents its fourth straight NCAA tournament bid, and its third at-large bid in the last four seasons. UD is 1-3 all-time in NCAA tournament games.
In its first ever NCAA tournament birth, the eighth-seeded Flyers defeated Texas Christian University in the first round of the 2010 tournament, before bowing out to the top seed, the University of Tennessee.
In the 2011 tournament, the 11th-seeded Flyers lost to sixth-seeded Penn State University in the first round, and UD had the same result in the 2012 tournament losing as the 11-seed to the sixth-seeded University of Arkansas.
Even though this is the team’s fourth straight tournament berth, seeing their name called on selection Monday is still a thrilling experience, according to senior guard Sam MacKay.
“The feeling of our name going across the screen is absolutely indescribable,” MacKay said. “To be in a field of such great players and great teams is awesome.”
Jabir echoed the sentiments of his senior guard.
“This is never ever old hat, ever,” Jabir said. “To see your name up on the board is a tremendous thing.”