Women’s Basketball headed to Iowa City for the NCAA tournament
While fans, students, coaches and University administrators clapped to the music of the AU pep band at the NCAA selection show party in the Tavern on March 15, the women’s basketball team sat nervously on a row of couches, staring at the screen with focus.
After 19 agonizing minutes, the fate of the Eagles was finally announced. AU received a No. 14 seed, and the crowd erupted in cheers. The team will travel to Iowa City, Iowa to face No. 3 Iowa University on March 20 at 2:30 p.m. in the first round of the tournament.
“I’ve never been to Iowa, so I’m excited,” senior guard Jen Dumiak said. “We saw them play in Vegas, they were one of the teams that were there too, so we’re just excited for the opportunity…to even be here.”
Dumiak earned Patriot League Tournament MVP honors on March 14 in the Patriot League conference championship against Lehigh after she recorded 24 points and led both teams in scoring. She was also awarded the Patriot League Player of the Year award and earned with Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors for her 3.95 undergraduate GPA.
Head coach Megan Gebbia credits part of the team’s success to Dumiak’s strong leadership, and she will look to her point guard and her other seniors as the team prepares for their first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament.
“How they play is going to determine how well we do because they have to play with a reckless abandon and not worry about what happens out there but just to play and compete and weather the storm as it goes along,” Gebbia said. “They are going to be huge to our success.”
For Gebbia, the trip offers the team the chance to test their skills against some of the best players in the country, and she looks forward to the challenge.
“[I’m] just elated that we get to play a terrific team,” Gebbia said. “They’re difficult to play at home, they have a great starting five, all five can score, so it will be a challenge.”
Gebbia was recently honored as the 2015 Patriot League Coach of the Year, and she holds a 30-6 conference record during her first two years at AU. The team currently boasts a 24-8 overall record for the 2014-2015 season. In only her second year as head coach of AU, Gebbia has already built a culture of unity among her players, and Dumiak said she believes that the ‘team’ mentality will allow the Eagles to see success as they head into the tournament.
“We’re pretty unselfish,” Dumiak said. “I think if you decide you want to shut down a person, someone else can step up, and we’ve kind of been playing that way the whole year, so I think that’s kind of biggest threat. We have multiple people that can do a lot of things.”
The AU fan bus will leave campus for Iowa on Thursday, March 19 at 8 p.m., and students can travel to the game for $30. The winner of Friday’s game will play either No. 6 University of Washington or No. 11 University of Miami Florida on March 22.
“I’m very excited for the team,” sophomore guard Jordan Light said. “I think we have a good shot to go out there and compete. I think just playing another game is exciting for us. [It] keep[s] our season going.”