WHILE the men’s tournament will grab the headlines first as their tournament gets underway, the Bahamas will be well represented by a trio of females in the main event of the NCAA.
Player of the year candidate Jonquel Jones, head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin and freshman phenom Lashann Higgs will all compete in the opening rounds today and tomorrow.
The Colonials are the No. 8 seed in the Sioux Falls Region and will face the No.9 Kansas State at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina. The game will be televised 5pm today.
Ranked 23rd in the RPI, GW will enter the NCAA Tournament with a 26-6 overall record, marking its third straight 20-win season.
The Atlantic 10 champion Colonials earned the league’s automatic bid and will make their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 17th overall.
Jones – a national player of the year candidate – is the nation’s leading rebounder with 14.7 boards per contest to go with her 16.0 points per game, making her the only player in the A-10 averaging a double-double on the year.
McPhee-McCuin made coaching history when her Jacksonville University Dolphins won the Atlantic Sun Conference title to earn a tournament berth as the No.16 seed in the Sioux Falls region.
They will square off against the Southeastern Conference (SEC) champions and No.1 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina 7:30pm Friday on ESPN 2.
Like the Dolphins, the Gamecocks clinched an automatic bid to the tournament after knocking off Mississippi State 66-52 in the SEC title game.
She also serves as the head coach of The Bahamas senior women’s national team.
Three years at the helm of her own programme and McCuin coached Jacksonville to its third consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference tournament appearance, making it further each year.
She led the Dolphins to an impressive 22-10 regular season record this year, going 11-3 in conference play.
Higgs, the freshman guard, and her Texas Longhorns are ranked No.2 in the Bridgeport Region. They will face No.15 Alabama State tomorrow at 8pm.
Texas is making its 29th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and holds an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 35-27.
UT is hosting the NCAA First and Second Rounds for the first time since 2010 and the sixth time since 1997. Texas is 19-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament games played at home.
Higgs averaged 6.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game this season.