HICKORY, NC - The fourth-seeded and 17th-ranked Francis Marion University women's basketball team will play third-seeded Clayton State University on Monday evening (March 16) at 7 p.m. in the title game (Sweet Sixteen) of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.
The game, which is one of only two regional finals that does not include a No. 1 seed, will be in the 3,200-seast Shuford Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, N.C. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students (with college ID) and those 12-and-under.
Action (video and live stats) from Monday’s game can be viewed through the regional tournament website at http://www.lrbears.com/basketball/women/2009region/schedule.htm
Francis Marion practiced Sunday afternoon in preparation for Monday’s game. The regional winner will advance to the Elite Eight in San Antonio, Texas, on March 24, 25 and 27. The Southeast Region champion will face the winner of the West Region (Seattle Pacific vs. Alaska-Anchorage) at 3 p.m. (ET) on March 24.
Francis Marion, which won the Peach Belt Conference regular-season championship and lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament, owns a 27-4 record and has defeated the fifth and first seeds in the regional tournament. Clayton State (25-6) has beaten the sixth and second seeds.
FMU leads the all-time series with the Lakers 12-10 following a split of their season series. The Patriots won 89-80 in Florence, while Clayton State captured an 86-80 overtime win in Morrow to close out the regular season.
Clayton State knocked Francis Marion from the NCAA Tournament in the first round last year.
The probable starting line-up for FMU will be 5-7 senior guard Jennifer Dyer (10.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg), 5-8 junior guard Shana Franks (12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg), 5-10 sophomore guard Robin Colbert (6.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg), 6-0 sophomore forward Danelle Downs (4.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg), and 5-10 sophomore guard-forward Shannon Singleton-Bates (13.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg).
The Lakers’ starting lineup includes 5-7 senior guard Marie St. Fort (10.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg), 5-7 junior guard Lesheria Stevens (8.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg), 5-9 freshman guard Brittany Hall (8.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg), 5-9 senior forward Shanrika Hardeman (8.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg), and 5-11 senior forward Lisa Jackson (8.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Francis Marion ranks first nationally in scoring offense (88.5 ppg), while Clayton State is 45th (73.7 ppg). The two squads rank first and second nationally in turnover margin, with the Patriots leading at 11.2 per game.
FMU is making its second straight appearance in the national tournament under second-year head coach Heather Macy, and the program's seventh appearance overall since moving to NCAA affiliation in 1992. The Patriots earned invitations for five consecutive years between 1997 and 2001, reaching the round of Sweet Sixteen in four straight years (1998-2001) and making the 1998 Final Four.