Morgan State, Loyola and UMBC get new life in tournament

Three local teams embark on postseason

March 16, 2011|By Ken Murray The Baltimore Sun

Stung by upset losses in conference tournaments, the women's basketball teams from Morgan State, Loyola and UMBC all received a second chance to keep playing this week.

Each school got a berth in the Women's NIT, and while it's not the NCAA tournament, it was enough to wipe away the tears in Brittany Dodson's eyes after Morgan State's loss to Howard last week as a No. 2 seed in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference semifinal.

"I thought it would possibly be the last game I ever played," said Dodson, a senior point guard for the Bears.

Instead, Dodson will play again when Morgan (17-14) visits Charlottesville, Va., for a WNIT first-round matchup against Virginia (16-15) at 7 p.m. today.

UMBC (20-11) is headed to Gainesville, Fla., to face Florida (18-14) on Friday at 7 p.m. after losing as the No. 1 seed in the America East Conference tournament. Because the Retrievers won the regular-season title, they were assured of a WNIT bid, but that was little consolation after the loss to Hartford in the semifinals.

"It was really a tough locker room after the Hartford game," coach Phil Stern said.

As a No. 2 seed, Loyola reached the championship game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, where it lost to regular-season champ Marist. The Greyhounds stunned Old Dominion with a 3-point basket by Katie Sheahin in the final 10 seconds Wednesday night to capture their 21st win of the season.

Loyola advances to the second round, where it will play the winner of the Morgan State-Virginia game.

The 5-foot-5 Dodson, one of four St. Louis natives on Morgan's roster, knows the WNIT will be her farewell to competitive basketball. She is a public relations major who wants to own her own PR firm.

Until this season, Dodson played in the shadow of Corin Adams, a former point guard and Morgan's all-time leading scorer. Dodson led the team with 11 points a game while boosting her career steals to 138.

"I don't think I'd say I replaced her," Dodson said. "Someone had to step up as a scorer and do it. I definitely felt like I could be a leader, and scoring came with it."

The other seniors — Theresa Davis, Brittany Noel and Erin Hawkins — also played key roles in taking Morgan to its first Division I postseason tournament.

"It's definitely a milestone for Morgan, and I'm so lucky to be part of it," Dodson said.

Morgan, 0-10 against Atlantic Coast Conference teams, got its WNIT bid when Hampton won both the regular season and tournament titles in the MEAC.

UMBC, meanwhile, hasn't played a Southeastern Conference team in Stern's nine seasons. The Retrievers went to the NCAA tournament in 2007, but this is their first WNIT appearance.

UMBC, which runs the methodical Princeton offense, will have to contend with Florida's quick guards and uptempo style.

"We're going to go down there thinking we have a chance to win," Stern said. "Obviously, against an SEC school, [a win] would take us to a place we've never gone before. It'd be another great accomplishment for this year's team."

ken.murray@ baltsun.com

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