MAAC women's tournament

March 04, 2004|By Bill Free

MAAC women's tournament

What: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women's tournament

Site: Pepsi Arena, Albany, N.Y.

When: Today through Sunday

2003 champion: Manhattan

2004 favorite: Siena. The top-seeded Saints (17-10, 13-5 MAAC) are the hottest team in the league with six straight wins, even though they've been playing without their best player, 6-foot-2 senior center Liene Jansone, who has been out with a broken wrist since Jan. 30. More importantly, Siena draws two byes as the top seed and needs to win just two games to capture the tournament title. The Saints are basically the home team this week, with their campus two miles from Pepsi Arena. And, as if Siena needed any more help, Jansone might be ready to play by Saturday's semifinals.

Dark horse: Loyola. The Greyhounds (13-14, 9-9) have been close to several big breakthrough victories this season, and they seem to be peaking for the tournament. Sophomore guard Krystle Harrington was superb last week in two season-ending victories over St. Peter's and Fairfield, averaging 18 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals, earning MAAC Player of the Week honors. Another talented sophomore, 6-2 forward Katie Scherle, was selected to the all-MAAC second team Monday after averaging 11.3 points and six rebounds this season shooting 49 percent from the field.

Player to watch: Jenel Stevens, Canisius. The 5-9 senior guard/forward, a two-time all-MAAC first-team selection, is second in the league with 9.9 rebounds per game and fourth in scoring with 16.6 points per game. She also registers 2.19 steals per game (fifth in the MAAC) and shoots 80 percent from the free-throw line.

Outlook: Siena should win this tournament. Look for Jansone to play at least some minutes to get ready for what looks like a trip to the NCAA tournament. A two-game sprint in front of the hometown fans for a team that is on a six-game roll seems as close to a tournament lock as can be found these days. Fifth-seeded Loyola opens the tournament today at noon, meeting 10th-seeded Rider (5-22, 3-15). -

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