|Makenzie Mason||Bridgette Mann|
SALEM, Va. - The University of Scranton women's basketball team has landed in Salem, Virginia, as the team prepares for Friday night's National Semifinal clash with top-ranked Thomas More. The game, which will be played in the Cregger Center on the campus of Roanoke College, is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. EST.
Fans making the trip to Salem are reminded that ticket and hotel information can be accessed by clicking here. However, if you're not making the trip south on Interstate-81 to see the Lady Royals, there are plenty of ways to follow Friday night's game.
First, the NCAA will be providing a free live video stream produced by Turner at this link. Live stats will also be available here, and WUSR-FM in Scranton will broadcast the game live both on the radio dial at 99.5 in Scranton and online here. Dean Corwin and Harry Dammer will have the call courtside from Salem on WUSR.
On Friday night, the Lady Royals will play in an NCAA National Semifinal for the first time since 2006 and for the ninth time in program history, as Scranton, winners of 10 games in a row, look to advance to the National Championship game for the first time since 1985.
Scranton advanced to the Final Four off the heels of two of the more dramatic victories in program history last weekend in the Long Center in the Sectional Round, as they knocked off Christopher Newport in the Third Round (57-56), then shocked fourth-ranked Tufts, 44-40, in the Quarterfinals to advance to Salem.
In the Tufts win, Scranton ended the game on a staggering 15-0 run, as the Lady Royals defense put together an incredible performance in the win, holding the fourth-ranked Jumbos scoreless for the final 8:04 in regulation while forcing Tufts to shoot just 24.6 percent from the floor (15-of-61 overall).
Individually, Scranton has been led on the scoring end by junior Makenzie Mason (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West), the Landmark Conference and D3hoops.com Mid-Atlantic Region Player of the Year, who is averaging 13.9 points a game and 7.6 rebounds a contest. Mason, who has recorded 10 double-doubles on the year, has scored in double-figures 25 times throughout the year, including a 14 point, seven rebound effort in the Tufts game that led the way.
Meanwhile, senior guard Bridgette Mann (Canadensis, Pa./Wallenpaupack), has ignited the Lady Royals since returning full-time to the Scranton line-up before the end of the regular season. After battling injuries all year, Mann has come on when the Lady Royals have needed her the most - in the postseason - as she's scored in double-figures three times throughout the NCAA Tournament, including a 19-point effort against Johns Hopkins in the Second Round and a 17-point night against Christopher Newport in the Third Round.
But, as it's been for seemingly the entire season, Scranton's defense has been the catalyst for the Lady Royals' run to the Final Four, as they've held three of their four NCAA Tournament opponents to under 50 points, a feat they've accomplished 20 times throughout the course of the season. They've also allowed just 48.6 points per game in 31 games, the sixth-best mark in all of NCAA Division III.
On Friday night, however, the Lady Royal defense may face their stiffest test yet when they take on top-ranked and unbeaten Thomas More (31-0), who come into the Final Four for the second straight season and the third time in the last four years.
The 2016 National Champions, the Saints punched their ticket to the Final Four with an 87-72 win over Washington (Mo.) in the Quarterfinals. In the victory, Thomas More was led, as they've been all season, by senior guard Madison Temple, who poured in 36 points, while snatching nine rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
For the year, Temple has been dominant for Thomas More, averaging 23.6 points a game (fifth-best in Division III) and scoring 734 total points, the best mark in the entire country. The Saints have also beaten their opponents by an average margin of 23.8 points, which also leads all of NCAA Division III.
For more on Friday night's matchup between Scranton and Thomas More, check out the game notes by clicking here.
In the other National Semifinal match-up on Friday night, second-ranked St. Thomas (30-1) takes on third-ranked Bowdoin (30-1), which begins at 5 p.m. The winners of both National Semifinal games will move on to play for the National Championship on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Cregger Center.