Women’s basketball secures second consecutive bid

The UVM women’s basketball team is going dancing.

The Catamounts have earned their second straight bid to the NCAA Tournament after defeating the Hartford Hawks 55-50 in the America East championship game on March 13.

This is the second straight America East Title for the team, and this gained them an automatic bid into the 2010 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament for the second year in a row.

The girls were able to hold off a second half surge from the Hartford Hawks in Saturday’s championship game.

After Vermont jumped out to an 18 point lead at halftime, Hartford crawled its way back to within four points with under a minute to play.

It was all for not though as Hartford would go on to lose 55-50 sending the Cats to the Big Dance.

With the win, the team earned the No. 10 seed in the Kansas City Region and will play the No. 7 seed Wisconsin Badgers March 21 in Notre Dame, Ind.

The number 10 ranking is the highest seed ever for the Cats.

“[I’m] absolutely thrilled that we are ranked that high, we defintely have earned it,” senior Alissa Sheftic said.

The game should be well-coached as Sharon Dawley, whose 127 wins at Vermont tie her for first all time at the school, will face Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone who is the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Although the team is  not familiar with the Badgers, senior Courtnay Pilypaitis expressed faith in the team.

“We are definitely going there to win, ” Pilypiatis said. “I can’t say I know much about [Wisconsin], so I don’t know what they bring … Once we know more, we’ll see how we match up. We are going into the game hoping to win.”

The team accomplished the goal they set at the beginning of the season, to win the America East championship and make the national tournament.

By accomplishing this goal, the team has opened up a whole new set of goals according to senior May Kotsopoulos.

“Getting back to the tournament was our goal. We are looking for that first win in that first game,” Kotsopoulos said.

Their chance will come on Sunday, March 21, as the NCAA tournament begins for the ladies.  The game will air at 12:15 p.m. on ESPN2.