No. 3 Lady Royals Host WPI to Open 2016 NCAA Tournament on Friday

Scranton will host WPI, winners of the NEWMAC Championship in the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament inside the John Long Center on Friday.
Scranton will host WPI, winners of the NEWMAC Championship in the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament inside the John Long Center on Friday.

SCRANTON, PA. - For the 29th time in program history, the University of Scranton women's basketball team will participate in the NCAA Division III Tournament, hosting both the First and Second Rounds inside the John Long Center beginning on Friday. There, the Lady Royals will open Tournament play entertaining WPI.

In the other First Round match-up on Friday, Cabrini will take on Marymount. The winners of both First Round games will then face-off on Saturday at the Long Center. Game times for all three games will be announced on Tuesday morning.

Scranton, ranked third in both the D3Hoops.com and USA Today Coaches' Polls, enter the NCAA Tounament a perfect 27-0 overall on the year, the best start for the team in program history. The Lady Royals also enter the tournament as one of only three unbeaten teams in the country, joining Thomas More and George Fox.

Winners of the Landmark Conference for the fourth time in program history, the Lady Royals will be led into the Tournament by the junior forward tandem of Sarah Payonk (Schwenksville, Pa./Spring-Ford) and Alexix Roman (Waverly, Pa./Wallenpaupack), who have led the Lady Royals in scoring for the entire season, with Roman coming in at 18.6 points per game and Payonk registering 12.4 points a contest.

Scranton sewed up a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday after rolling past Catholic in the Championship Game of the Landmark Conference Playoffs, 78-57. For her efforts, Payonk earned Landmark Playoff MVP honors, as well.

WPI, 24-4 on the season, earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament after edging Babson 70-69 in the NEWMAC Championship Game on Sunday. This will be the Crimson and Gray's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1996.

Cabrini, 19-9 on the year, earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament after making a run through the CSAC Tournament as the number three seed, knocking off Neumann on Saturday in the Tournament Championship game, 74-64, to win their fourth straight CSAC title. The Cavaliers are making their 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament all-time.

Earlier this year (Nov. 24), Scranton went to Cabrini and earned a tough 62-56 victory on the road.

Marymount, members of the CAC, finished the season with a 22-5 overall mark, earning an at-large selection into the field. The Saints are one of three teams to make the field from the CAC, as well.

Tickets for the games will be available at the door, and are $6 for general admission and $3 for students, senior citizens (61 and over) and children ages 2 and older. Children under the age of 2 will be admitted for free. Doors will open at 4 p.m. both days.

Be sure to follow @RoyalAthletics on Twitter and visit http://athletics.scranton.edu/ for more information as it becomes available.

--LADY ROYALS--