The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team has been ranked #5 in the East Region in the first NCAA Division II Women's Basketball poll of the season. The Spartans, coming off both their first East Coast Conference Tournament Championship and their second NCAA Tournament appearance last season, have picked up where they left off, entering the week at 22-3 overall and in first place in the ECC at 13-1.
STAC has currently won six straight games - their third streak of six-or-longer this season - with four games to go in the regular season. Three of those games will take place at Aquinas Hall, where the Spartans are 12-0 this season, starting with Friday's showdown against Daemen College. The Wildcats stand in the final slot in the 10-team rankings, and are the only other ECC team in the top 10. That contest will also go a long way toward deciding the ECC's Regular-Season Championship, as STAC remains one game ahead in the standings but suffered its lone conference setback of the season at Daemen on January 25.
Eight teams will represent the East Region in this season's NCAA Tournament, with automatic bids going to tournament champions from the ECC, Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC), and the Northeast-10 (NE-10), and the remaining five berths being awarded on an at-large basis. University of the Sciences (CACC) captures the top spot in this week's poll, with Bentley University (NE-10), and Jefferson University (CACC) rounding out the top three.
After sweeping to the ECC Tourney title last season, St. Thomas Aquinas captured the conference's automatic berth and was awarded the #4 seed in last year's regional, topping #5 Caldwell before falling to top-seeded Stonehill. STAC hosts Daemen on Friday and Roberts Wesleyan College on Sunday, travels to face Queens College on Wednesday, February 27, and wraps up the regular season hosting Molloy College on Saturday, March 2.
They have already clinched a first-round ECC Tournament bye and will play in the semi-finals on Saturday, March 9, at the University of Bridgeport. Conference champs will be crowned on Sunday, March 10, with brackets and locations announced that night. Regional play takes place the weekend of March 15, with the Final Eight to be held from March 26-29 at Ohio Dominion University in Columbus, Ohio.
1. University of the Sciences (CACC) (21-4)
2. Bentley University (NE-10) (23-2)
3. Jefferson University (CACC) (23-1)
4. LeMoyne College (NE-10) (19-4)
5. St. Thomas Aquinas College (ECC) (22-3)
6. Stonehill College (NE-10) (17-7)
7. St. Anselm College (NE-10) (16-7)
8. Southern New Hampshire University (NE-10) (16-9)
9. Merrimack College (NE-10) (17-8)
10. Daemen College (ECC) (15-8)