Salve Regina to play Wm. Paterson in NCAA first round

Salve Regina to play Wm. Paterson in NCAA first round
Kaitlyn Birrell and Lindsay Shorey embrace after the Seahawks earned their seventh NCAA Championships bid in the last 11 years. Salve Regina plays at King's (Pa.) College where it draws NJAC winner William Paterson in a first-round match on Friday.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Salve Regina (19-9, 13-5 CCC) will play No. 9/11 William Paterson (25-2, 12-1 NJAC) in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament Friday, March 2, at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The winner will advance to the second round Saturday, March 3, in Wilkes-Barre, and will face the winner of the King's (22-5, 13-1 Freedom) vs. Oneonta State (19-8, 14-4 SUNYAC) first-round contest to be played March 2. Times have yet to be announced.

The Seahawks are making their third trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years after a 77-61 victory over Endicott College Feb. 25 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament championship game. In 2009, Salve Regina traveled to New York to face host NYU in the first round while last year the Seahawks played against host Bowdoin College in first-round action.

The Seahawks are making their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance overall (2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012), with the last three under the direction of fifth-year head coach Cori Hughes.

Two seniors on the Seahawk squad - Kira Murphy (New Boston, N.H.) and Lindsay Shorey (Ashland, Mass.) - are making their third NCAA appearance. Shorey earned All-CCC second team honors before dominating the conference tournament. She averaged 17.3 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game, and 7.3 blocks per game for the week. Her championship week performances included school-record 14 blocks in first-round win over Curry, career-high 30 points in semifinal win over Western New England, and game-high 20 points in championship win over the Gulls.

Shorey ranks seventh in the nation among Division III players in blocked shots per game (3.9). The Seahawks lead the nation in that category overall (8.0).

The CCC Defensive Player of the Year and All-CCC second teamer Kaitlyn Birrell (Scituate, R.I.) ranks seventh in the country in assists per game (5.8) and eighth in steals per game (4.2). She scored 16 points and dished out seven assists in Saturday's championship game.

Sophomore Marissa Pendergast (Medfield, Mass.), an All-CCC first teamer, led the Seahawks with seven double-doubles including a 16-point, 11-rebound performance in the title game. Freshman Laura Anne Dinan (Monterey, Mass.) scored a career-high 16 points in the final (4-of-5 on 3-pointers) while finishing the week with 103 minutes played - tied with Pendergast for most in tournament.

Salve Regina has never played William Paterson in women's basketball but the Seahawks and Pioneers have met in men's soccer (2-1 William Paterson on September 5, 1999) and baseball (7-6 William Paterson on March 11, 2004).

The Pioneers rank in the USA Today/ESPN/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Top 25 Poll and 11th in the Top 25 Poll released Feb. 21.

Check out the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament page at the site of the sectional host, King's College.