Gophers miss the NCAA women’s tourney

Published 9:54am Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — The NCAA women’s basketball tournament absence for Minnesota has reached five straight years.

The Gophers (20-12) were excluded from the 64-team field when it was finalized Monday. They’ll play instead in the WNIT for a second straight season, hosting Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round Wednesday.

The Gophers finished sixth in the Big Ten, but they went 0-8 against top-five teams Penn State, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa and Purdue. They beat regular season conference champions Navy, Chattanooga, Colorado State and North Dakota, but they also lost to UCLA, Hawaii and Creighton — teams ranked well below the top 50 in the Ratings Percentage Index. The RPI is a barometer for the selection committee.

Minnesota went to six NCAA tournaments in coach Pam Borton’s first seven seasons but not since 2009.

Iowa State is in

Iowa State and Florida State will meet in the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament on Saturday in Ames.

The Cyclones (20-10) earned the No. 7 seed in the Stanford Region — and a potential matchup with the powerhouse Cardinal in the second round.

Second-seeded Stanford (29-3) will follow the Iowa State-Florida State game at Hilton Coliseum by playing No. 15 seed South Dakota (19-13).

Iowa State went .500 in the Big 12, while the Seminoles (20-11) were ninth in the ACC.

Hawkeyes seeded 6th

The Iowa women’s basketball team is seeded sixth in the upcoming NCAA tournament and will face Marist in Iowa City on Sunday.

“At first glance, it appears they have a lot of similarities to us and will be comparable to a lot of teams that we have played this season,’’ Hawkeye head coach Lisa Bluder said. “By the time we start practice (today), we’ll have seen a couple of tapes and be able to tell the team what we can expect.’’

The Hawkeyes (26-8), who reached the finals of the Big Ten tournament, will host first and second-round games in the Louisville Region. Their sixth seed equals the second-highest among the 11 NCAA bids Iowa has received in Bluder’s 14 seasons.

Louisville (30-4), which is ranked No. 4 in the country, was awarded a No. 3 seed and a trip to Iowa City. The Cardinals will play No. 14 Idaho (25-8) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena earlier Sunday.

The winners of the opening round games will square off next Tuesday.

South Dakota wins title

South Dakota wants to extend Polly Harrington’s collegiate career. The Coyotes’ only senior did her part, too.

Harrington scored 16 points to lead South Dakota to an 82-71 win over Denver for the Summit League championship and the Coyotes’ first trip to the NCAA tournament.

Raeshel Contreras added 13 points for the Coyotes (19-13), who earned their first Summit League title. Nicole Seekamp was 3 for 12 from the field, but contributed 11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals.

Seekamp said the Coyotes fought hard for Harrington.

“We were playing for her,” Seekamp said. “We don’t want the season to be over yet.”

Desiree Hunter and Paige Bradley led Denver (9-23) with 14 points apiece. Theresa Wirth had 13.

The Coyotes reached the title game by handing five-time champion South Dakota State its first tournament loss after 15 consecutive victories.

The University of South Dakota, which based in Vermillion about 60 miles south of Sioux Falls, enjoyed a mostly hometown crowd.