POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - The Marist women's basketball team (26-6) was awarded the 12th seed in the Bridgeport Regional of the 2013 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship on Monday night. The Red Foxes will take on the fifth-seeded Michigan State Spartans (24-8) on Saturday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md., where the University of Maryland will be the host.
The Red Foxes will meet the Spartans for the first time in program history. This will be the seventh-ever meeting between Marist and a Big 10 program. All-time, the Red Foxes are 3-3 in games versus Nebraska (2-0), Ohio State (1-1), Minnesota (0-1) and most recently Purdue (0-1); as part of the 2012 Paradise Jam Tournament Marist faced off with Purdue on Nov. 22 and fell by a score of 71-50.
The eight-time reigning MAAC Champions, Marist is currently riding a 21-game winning streak, as it swept conference play with a perfect 18-0 record. The Red Foxes are ranked just outside the top 25 of the USA Today Coaches Poll with 18 votes, the most of any team not ranked. They are also receiving votes in the AP Poll.
The Red Foxes are led into the NCAA Tournament by a well-round group of athletes that found themselves honored throughout the All-MAAC teams. Senior Elizabeth Beynnon (Burlington, Vt.), a Second Team All-MAAC performer, is Marist's leading scorer and third-leading rebounder with averages of 12.2 ppg and 4.3 rpg, respectively. Junior Casey Dulin (Milford, Conn.) joined Beynnon on the Second Team with a 10.6 points per game average and a team-leading 3.3 assists per game. The MAAC Sixth Player of the Year, senior Kristina Danella (Manalapan, N.J.) ranks third on the team in scoring with 9.3 points per game and second with 4.5 rebounds per game. Leanne Ockenden (Syracuse, N.Y.), the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Emma O'Connor (Lynbrook, N.Y.) were recognized as members of the Third Team All-MAAC, while Sydney Coffey (New Hope, Minn.) was named to the conference All-Rookie Team.
The Spartans come into the first round matchup following a 62-47 setback versus Purdue in the final of the Big Ten Championship on Sunday, March 10. Under the leadership of sixth year head coach Suzy Merchant, the Spartans have been a consistent winner, netting 20 or more wins in each of her seasons in East Lansing. Michigan State is led by the double-digit scoring duo of Klarissa Bell (11.1 ppg) and Jasmine Thomas (10.4 ppg). The two of them, as well as guard Kiana Johnson, who leads the team with 4.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game, garnered All-Big Ten accolades when the conference's postseason awards were announced.
This will be Marist's second trip in program history to College Park and the Comcast Center as it participated in the 2006 Terrapin Classic. On Dec. 29, 2006, the Red Foxes defeated Liberty 76-43 before falling to the host Terrapins on Dec. 30, 86-60.