WAYNE – A pair of conference titles and automatic NCAA Tournament bids will be on the line this weekend when William Paterson plays in both the women’s and men’s New Jersey Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament championship games.
The No. 8/8 Pioneer women (25-1) will face No. 2/2 Kean (25-1) Friday, Feb. 26, at 7:00 p.m. in Union, while the No. 10 Pioneer men (24-2) will host Richard Stockton (20-6) Saturday, Feb. 27, at 2:00 p.m. at the Rec Center.
Ranked eighth in both the USA Today/ESPN/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and the D3hoops.com Top 25 Polls, the North No. 1 Seed William Paterson women advanced to the final with a 75-60 semifinal win against South No. 2 Seed Rowan (17-9) Feb. 23.
Kean, ranked second nationally in both polls and the top overall seed in the tournament, defeated North No. 2 Seed Montclair State (16-10), 92-68, in the other semifinal contest. The top two teams in the Feb. 24 NCAA Atlantic Region Poll, William Paterson and Kean met once previously this season, a 102-66 Cougar win that was the Pioneers’ only loss this season (Jan. 9 in Union).
The William Paterson men, rated 10th this week in the D3hoops.com Poll, are the top overall seed in the NJAC Tournament and reached the final thanks to a 55-37 semifinal victory against North No. 3 Seed Ramapo (18-9) Feb. 24.
Richard Stockton, the top-seeded team in the South, upended North No. 2 Seed Rutgers-Newark (20-7), 86-73, in the other semifinal contest. The Pioneers earned a 63-57 home victory against the Ospreys during the teams’ only regular-season meeting (Jan. 16), and William Paterson was first and Stockton fifth in the Feb. 24 NCAA Atlantic Region Poll.
The winner of each NJAC championship will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. NCAA selections will be announced via online stream at ncaa.com on Monday, March 1 (men at 10:00 a.m., women at 12:30 p.m.).
The Pioneer women have reached the NJAC Tournament final 10 times (1990, 1992-94, 1996-98, 2004, 2007, 2010), winning their lone title in 1993. The Pioneer men have won nine NJAC Tournament titles during their history, the last in 2006 (1972, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006).
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