Jaspers Visit Minnesota In Semifinals Of WBI
Eighth-seeded Manhattan (18-15) visits second-seeded Minnesota (17-17) tonight in the semifinals of the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI). The Jaspers are in the WBI semifinals for the second straight season after knocking off Robert Morris, 77-54, and Holy Cross, 78-63. The Golden Gophers notched an 80-51 win over Charleston Southern in the first round, then an 85-59 quarterfinal victory over Bradley. Tonight's winner moves into the WBI championship game against West Region champion Northern Iowa on either Sunday or Monday.
THE MANHATTAN JASPERS
The Jaspers (18-15) advanced to the WBI semifinals for the second consecutive season with a 78-63 victory at Holy Cross on Sunday. In the first round, Manhattan knocked off Robert Morris, 77-54. Senior forward Lindsey Loutsenhizer moved into fifth place on the Jaspers' all-time scoring list in the win over Holy Cross. She currently has 1,403 career points. A Second Team All-MAAC selection, Loutsenhizer leads the Jaspers with 12.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. She also paces the squad with 2.5 assists and 2.4 steals per contest. Senior guard/forward Schyanne Halfkenny tallied a career-high 25 points against Holy Cross. She ranks second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.3 points per outing. Sophomore guard Monica Roeder drains 1.8 three-pointers per contest, while senior forward Nadia Peters, Manhattan's all-time leader in blocked shots, contributes 1.1 blocks per outing to go along with 4.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals a night.
THE MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
Minnesota (17-17) is in the WBI semifinals for the first time after posting victories over Charleston Southern, 80-51, and Bradley, 85-59. The Golden Gophers are led by freshman guard Rachel Banham, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year by both the coaches and media. She was also selected to the All-Big Ten Second Team. Banham averages a team-best 15.9 points per game and ranks second on the squad in rebounding (5.4 rpg). She's also second on the team in assists (2.6 apg) and steals (1.5 spg). In addition, Banham drains 1.5 treys per game and is shooting .421 from downtown. Senior guard Kiara Buford was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection. She averages 13.7 points per game to go along with a team-leading 3.0 assists and 1.9 steals per contest. Junior forward Katie Loberg tallies 9.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per outing, while sophomore guard/forward Kionna Kellogg pulls down 5.3 boards per contest.
This is the first-ever meeting between the Jaspers and Golden Gophers, as well as Manhattan's first-ever contest in the State of Minnesota. The Jaspers are 0-4 all-time against the Big Ten, having previously taken on Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin. Manhattan's last game against a Big Ten opponent was an 84-71 loss to Wisconsin on Dec. 18, 1997.
LAST TIME OUT
Manhattan moved into the WBI semifinals for the second straight season with a 78-63 quarterfinal victory over Holy Cross at the Hart Center on Sunday. The Jaspers led by as many as 15 points in the first half and held a 38-27 advantage at intermission. The Crusaders pulled within seven, 56-49, midway through the second half, but the Jaspers responded with a 14-4 run to open up a 17-point lead, 70-53, with 4:46 remaining, and the Jaspers won by a 15-point margin, 78-63. Schyanne Halfkenny had a career-high 25 points to lead four Jaspers in double figures. Lindsey Loutsenhizer tallied 17 points and a team-high seven boards. She also posted a career-high seven steals. Toni-Ann Lawrence finished with 12 points, and Monica Roeder added 10 points. Alyssa Herrington tied a career-high with eight assists.
The Jaspers are making their second consecutive postseason appearance, and the sixth national postseason appearance in program history. Manhattan has played in the NCAA Tournament four times, most recently in 2003, when it lost to Mississippi State in Albuquerque, N.M. The Jaspers also participated in the WBI last season, knocking off Sacred Heart and Wright State before falling to eventual champion UAB in the semifinals. The two victories in last year's WBI were the first national postseason wins in program history. The Jaspers have also played in the ECAC Tournament twice (1982, 1983), winning a game each time.
MANHATTAN IN THE WBI
This is the Jaspers' second straight WBI appearance. Manhattan has played--and won--more games than any other team in WBI history. The Jaspers are 4-1 all-time in the WBI. With a victory tonight, Manhattan will break a tie with Appalachian State and UAB as the all-time winningest team in the history of the tournament. The Jaspers have reached the semifinals of the event in each of the past two seasons, becoming the first program to advance to the WBI semifinals more than once. In addition, Manhattan is the only team to beat two different No. 1 seeds in the WBI, knocking off top-seeded Wright State in 2011 and Robert Morris in the first round of this year's event.
The Jaspers are making their second consecutive Women's Baskeball Invitational appearance this season. Of the 43 different programs to play in the WBI during the tournament's three-year existence, Manhattan is one of just three to appear in back-to-back years. Wright State, one of the teams the Jaspers knocked off en route to the semifinals last season, is also in the 2012 field, while 2011 finalist Cal State Bakersfield played in the inaugural WBI in 2010. Bradley and Charleston Southern, which both appeared in the 2010 WBI, were back in the tournament this year after missing out last season. Manhattan is the winningest team in WBI history with four tournament victories. The Jaspers have reached the semifinals each time, making them the only team to play in the WBI semifinals twice.
The winner of tonight's semifinal contest moves into the WBI Championship Game against Northern Iowa (19-14). The Panthers notched a 68-64 victory at Seattle in the other semifinal game on Wednesday night. The final will be held on either Sunday or Monday on the campus of the school with the higher RPI.