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WBB Makes NCAA Tournament For First Time Since 1983

Monmouth University women’s basketball had their most successful season in over a decade, winning the CAA tournament in their very first season in the conference and earning the chance to compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

The Lady Hawks began their crusade with a last-second defeat of Stony Brook on Saturday, March 4, when graduate guard Bri Tinsley’s nifty finish at the rim lifted Monmouth to victory, 72-71. The Hawks continued to soar, smashing through No. 10 Charleston, tossing aside No. 2 Drexel, bowling over No. 3 Northeastern, and steamrolling No. 1 Towson during their crusade to claim the CAA Championship.

The brave souls of the College of Charleston were the first to dare to stand in the Hawks’ path and were met with an unexpectedly strong effort from the underdogs. Monmouth quickly established a 11-0 lead before ending the first quarter up 27-10. The 17-point cushion would allow the Hawks to coast to a 69-54 victory, despite the rest of the game being more evenly matched. This game would prove to be historic for the program as graduate forward Lucy Thomas set Monmouth’s record for career games played at 126 and the Monmouth team notched their first ever CAA Tournament win.

After a gut-wrenching back-and-forth duel with Drexel, things just got that much sweeter for the Hawks as they battled to come out on top yet again, 65-59, to earn the program’s 600th win and become the only team in the CAA to have beaten the Dragons twice this year. The energy and the high-stakes reflected in the crowd. Recognizing this, Head Coach Ginny Boggess said “We talk about our Nest and our family and you could see it in the stands tonight. It’s not just a recruiting pitch, it’s very real. I’m so proud of what we are building and we are having a blast doing it. I’m excited what we are doing it with. I can’t say enough about our effort and energy tonight. Drexel came out like I knew they would. We rallied and responded and defensively we got stops when we needed to. We picked up the effort down the stretch.”

Further extending their conquest, Monmouth ran all over Northeastern, notching a 73-60 win to add yet another double-digit victory to their impressive record. Leading the troops yet again was Tinsley, who earned her 1000th career point with her first bucket of the game. She joins Thomas, who earned her 1000th point earlier this season, in that prestigious club.

Of course, winning the war counts more than winning the battle, and the Hawks did just that on Saturday, March 12, when they defeated first-seed Towson in an 80-55 domination at SECU Arena whilst being broadcast on CBS Network.

Following their win, Tinsley was named the CAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and for perfectly good reason. The Virginia native once again paced the Hawks in scoring, this time with 18 points, at a time when Monmouth needed it the most. She finished the tournament averaging 15 points. Graduate forward Lovin Marsicano had the honor of joining Tinsley on the CAA’s All-Tournament Team, averaging 11 points herself.

Most importantly, however, Monmouth earned themselves the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament, something they haven’t achieved since 1983. That chance would come and go as the Hawks’ victory streak came to an end after a tough 69-79 loss to No. 16 Tennessee Tech on Thursday, March 16.

The result was a tough pill to swallow for the Lady Hawks, whose offensive game was as good as usual with 69 points scored. They quickly learned that luck will not always be on your side as opponents Tennessee Tech got all of their shots to fall at the right moments, shooting as well from long range as from the field and scoring 36 of their 79 points from three. Every competitor wants to win, and every team begins a new season with a goal of winning it all. This time, Monmouth fell a few steps short on their expedition. Sometimes, great stories have sad endings.

Jen Louro, Lovin Marsicano, Lucy Thomas, and Bri Tinsley all played their last games as members of the Monmouth Hawks, but there is nothing that can take this magical run away from them as their final memories of being a Hawk. The Monmouth community is bubbling with pride and joy to have watched this unfold with determination, passion, and grit in each game. Boggess reciprocated that sentiment, saying “Wow, what an incredible run by these young women. I couldn’t be more proud to be their leader. Give credit to Tennessee Tech they were ready to go and shot the lights out. I’m disappointed but bursting with pride for this group and what they accomplished.”

Despite the departures of Louro, Mariscano, Thomas, and Tinsley, the future of the program rests in good hands. Boggess’ infectious, fun-having culture will continue to grow, with a junior platoon of Ariana Vanderhoop, Kaci Donovan, Belle Kranbuhl, Jania Hall, and Kayla Richardson ready to lead the way for the younger players and newcomers alike.