On many college campuses across America, the arrival of March signifies two things: spring break and college basketball tournaments.
While many of their fellow UVM classmates look to leave the cold, dark, month of February behind them as they jet off to warmer locations for spring break, the Lady Cats may be hoping to hold on to a piece of the month as they approach the America East tournament.
During the month of February, the Lady Cats turned up the heat on their opponents, going 7-1 and winning by an average of about 20 points a game. All of the games were against conference opponents, improving their conference record from 4-2 to 11-3.
The Lady Cats closed out February with a 61-44 victory in Maine against the Black Bears.
Senior Sy Janousek started her second game of the season and led the team with 17 points, 15 of which came from 3-point range.
“We have gained a lot of momentum in the past few games,” head coach Sharon Dawley said, referring to the team’s five-game win streak – the longest of the season. “I think we are headed in the right direction for the stretch run and into the tournament.”
As the standings dictate right now, Vermont has the No. 3 seed going into the America East tournament.
However, Vermont has a chance at the No. 2 seed with a win at rival Hartford on March 4, coupled with another Hartford loss.
The tournament is being held in West Hartford, with the play-in game kicking off the contest on March 12.
The championship game will be played on March 15 and can be seen on NESN at 6 p.m.
The tournament looks to be top-heavy this year, with only the first three seeds currently boasting a conference record over .500.
Even though the Lady Cat’s are one of the three with a shining conference record, it will certainly not be an easy road to the championship game for Vermont when they lace up the sneakers in Hartford.
Pending the result of the March 4 showdown between Vermont and Hartford, the Lady Cats will enter the tournament with at most a combined 1-3 record against undefeated No. 1 seed Boston University and No. 2 Hartford.
Led by senior Jesyka Burks-Wiley and her 18.2 points per game, BU will be the toughest opponent Vermont will face in the tournament.
But at 12-2, Hartford will likely use their high home attendance – an average of about 1,800 per game – to boost their already sizable home court advantage.
Vermont will need to make sure their conference-best rated defense shines throughout the tournament if they hope to reach the Championship, as there is a good chance they will have to play against either BU or Hartford – if not both – in their quest to net an NCAA tournament berth.