Lone Star Conference Basketball Championships, NCAA DIII Regionals Top NCAA-Level Baseball Kick Off March Madness in Metroplex

by BoCarter | Posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2020

March 8, 2020

By Bo Carter

FRISCO, Texas – While the Lone Star Conference was holding its 2020 men’s and women’s basketball championships at Comerica Center and the Frisco College Baseball Classic brought some of the top NCAA Division I diamond teams to the DFW Metroplex, early March Madness is off and running.

And the LSC championships also produced 10 men’s and women’s teams (two automatic as tourney champs and eight at-large entries) during NCAA Division II Championship brackets released Sunday night.

To top that off, the American Southwest Conference and NCAA Division III tourney host UT Dallas men topped Centenary 83-81 last Friday night in Richardson, Texas, before falling to Whitworth (Wash.) 73-66 in the NCAA second rounds to close the season at 22-7.

The Comets women’s crew also succeeded in the DIII first round at San Antonio with a 74-69 win over host Trinity before falling to powerhouse Mary Hardin-Baylor 64-46. That capped UTD’s women’s season with a 23-6 mark after the team started 1-3 and then won 22 of its next 24 skirmishes,

But back to the LSC, which expanded to an amazing 19 members with a merger with the Heartland Conference prior to the 2019-20 academic year and featured a league-high 24 qualifying teams at first round sites and then the Comerica Center March 5-8, first-time competitors in the rugged championships definitely showed their spurs and used the tourney to advance to NCAA activity.

New member Lubbock Christian captured its first championship in the 38th annual women’s championship by downing Texas A&M-Commerce 57-44 Sunday afternoon while West Texas A&M won its ninth postseason title (9-5 in 14 appearances) in the 46th men’s championship with a 81-65 comeback victory over 2019-20 conference newcomer St. Edward’s to obtain the LSC’s automatic NCAA berths for 2020. LCU became the 17th different school (12th among current membership) since 1983 to capture the women’s trophy while there also have been 17 past and current men’s basketball schools winning the men’s title and automatic NCAA DII berth.

Head coaches in the 2020 championships again expressed elation over the level of competition and were pleased with the at-large choices for the NCAA South Central Regionals.

“Our guys wanted it,” said WTAM head coach Tom Brown after the Buffaloes overcame a 38-25 halftime deficit by outscoring the Hilltoppers 56-27 over the final 20 minutes. “We got into the fight in the second half, and we knew we were okay despite missing some open threes in the first half. We reminded the players it is a 40-minute game and made some halftime ajustments.”

“West Texas A&M just seized the opportunity in the second half,” said St. Edward’s head coach Andre Cook after the finale. “We played a great first half but have had the misfortune of having double digit leads in the first half in several games and not being able to hold them. It gives me a headache to think about how many sophomores and juniors WT has on the team.”

Cook also alluded to a possible third meeting of SEU and the Buffaloes in the then-probable regional (sites were announced later Sunday night) after the Hilltoppers dealt the Buffs theironly defeat in 33 games by a 100-87 margin in Austin last December.

“Last year we had a Top Five nationally matchup between our schools at Canyon,” he explained, “and this year’s meeting could be a Top 10 matchup.  These are hard games, and you have to outscore West Texas A&M to win.”

“We have some great ballplayers who play together well,” Brown continued. “It also was nice to have the fan support we had in Frisco, and we were able to stretch the floor defensively in the second half.”

LCU women’s head coach 17-year veteran Steve Gomez also spoke about the experience the Lady Chaps gained by playing preseason exhibition games against Big 12 Conference powers and No. 1 nationally Baylor and No. 15 Texas.

“We played against teams with a lot of national talent, length and speed,” he stated earlier this season, “and it was the toughest pressure we have had to face against teams who could score inside and outside. It definitely helped to face the teams before we started regular-season and conference play.”

The Lady Chaps also stormed to 14 wins in their final 15 games – all against LSC opposition – and topped a West Texas A&M program 59-46 in the semifinals after the Buffaloes had won or finished second in five of the last six LSC championships.

It also was a tournament filled with highlights such as Angelo State’s 97-92 double overtime triumph over Lubbock Christian on Friday behind a tourney-record 47 points by Collin Turner and another tussle with No. 1 seed WTAM some 19 hours later, the LCU women’s 3-0 mark in their first LSC joust to become the all-time winning percentage leader at 1.000 and finals’ appearances by 2019-20 new conference members LCU women and SEU men, among others.

The 12-team format with four games at campus sites on Tuesday, March 3, also was a hit as manageable, eight-team brackets were featured over four days (the women had Friday off) with 14 total encounters at Comerica Center.

Lubbock Christian, Texas A&M-Commerce, West Texas A&M, Eastern New Mexico, and Angelo State also all accepted bids to the 2020 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship, which Lubbock Christian will host March 13-14, 16 in the South Central Regional. Also in this regional are Colorado Mesa, Westminster and Western Colorado.

Eight eight-team regionals will be played at on-campus sites. The winners of each of the eight regionals will advance to the NCAA DII Elite Eight in Birmingham, Ala. Teams advancing to the final site will be reseeded before quarterfinal contests.

The NCAA South Central Women’s Region slate includes Friday, March 13 – No. 3 West Texas A&M (27-6) vs. No. 6 Western Colorado (20-7), Noon (CDT); No. 2 Texas A&M-Commerce (28-3) vs. No. 7 Eastern New Mexico (22-9), 2:30 p.m.; No. 1 Lubbock Christian (28-3) vs. No. 8 Angelo State (18-10), 5 p.m.; No. 4 Colorado Mesa (26-5) vs. No. 5 Westminster (24-7), 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14 – 3-6 winner vs. 2-7 winner, Time TBD; 4-5 winner vs. 1-8 winner, Time TBD. Monday, March 16 – Regional Championship, Time TBD.

On the LSC men’s side, South Central Region host West Texas A&M at Canyon, Texas, will greet St. Edward’s, Angelo State, Texas A&M-Kingsville, and Dallas Baptist as five other schools are advancing to the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship after earning one automatic and five at-large berths to the South Central Regional.

WT earned the region’s top seed and serve as host for the regional March 14-15-17. SEU is the No. 2, ASU is the No. 4 seed, TAMUK is the No. 5 seed, and DBU is the No. 7 seed. Other South Central participants are Dixie State, Colorado School of Mines and Colorado Mesa.

Men’s South Central Region matchups are March 14 – No. 3 Dixie State (24-8) vs. No. 6 Colorado Mines (29-11), Time TBD; No. 2 St. Edward’s (27-4) vs. No. 7 DBU (21-9), TBD; No. 1 West Texas A&M (32-1) vs. No. 8 Colorado Mesa (21-10), TBD; No. 4 Angelo State (20-8) vs. No. 5 Texas A&M-Kingsville (21-9), TBD. Sunday, March 15 – 3-6 winner vs. 2-7 winner, TBD; 4-5 winner vs. 1-8 winner, TBD. Tuesday, March 17 – Regional Championship, TBD.

Results from the LSC championships were:

Women – First rounds (campus sites): St. Edward’s 78, UA-Fort Smith 59; St. Mary’s 84, Cameron 71; Angelo State 81, Midwestern State 70; Eastern New Mexico 70, Oklahoma Christian 52. Quarterfinals (Frisco): Lubbock Christian 91, Angelo State 65; West Texas A&M 70, St. Edward’s 46; Texas A&M-Commerce 70, St. Mary’s 60; Eastern New Mexico 66, Tarleton 62. Semifinals: Lubbock Christian 59, West Texas A&M 46; Texas A&M-Commerce 68, Eastern New Mexico 59. Finals: Lubbock Christian 57, Texas A&M-Commerce 44.

All-Tournament Team: Most Valuable Player Caitlyn Cunyus, Lubbock Christian; Maddi Chitsey, LCU; Allie Schulte, LCU; Alexis Bryant, Texas A&M-Commerce; Zamorye Cox, Eastern New Mexico.

Men – First rounds (campus sites): Texas A&M-Commerce 77, UA-Fort Smith 73; Lubbock Christian 79, Midwestern State 61; Dallas Baptist 69, Oklahoma Christian 67 (OT); Tarleton 84, UT Permian Basin 68. Quarterfinals: Texas A&M-Kingsville 71, DBU 66; St. Edward’s 60, Tarleton 52; West Texas A&M 85, Texas A&M-Commerce 72; Angelo State 97, Lubbock Christian 92 (2 OT). Semifinals: West Texas A&M 87, Angelo State 77; St. Edward’s 71, Texas A&M-Kingsville 68. Finals: West Texas A&M 81, St. Edward’s 65.

All-Tournament Team: MVP JoJo Murray, West Texas A&M; Qua Grant, WTAM; Ashton Spears, St. Edward’s; August Haas, St. Edward’s; Collin Turner, Angelo State.

Meanwhile, Division I baseball in the Metroplex again was showcased in the fourth annual Frisco College Baseball Classic at Dr Pepper Ballpark March 28-Feb. 1 with Top 25 nationally-ranked Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and UCLA competing.

That followed the initial FCBC in 2017 when all four participants later advanced to NCAA Regionals – Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State. In ’18 the field included Baylor, California, Louisiana Tech, and Texas A&M. The 2019 field included NCAA World Series participants Mississippi State and Texas Tech along with Nebraska and Sam Houston State. A nationally-competitive field for the 2021 Frisco College Baseball Classic at the home of the Class AA Texas League Frisco RoughRiders already is in the planning stages.

DFW Metro powers TCU of the Big 12 Conference and Dallas Baptist (in the Division I Missouri Valley Conference for baseball only) have been ranked nationally throughout the early 2020 campaign.

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