Next stop: College Park, Maryland. That’s where the Army women’s basketball team will be Sunday, playing Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Comcast Center. Army enters the tournament as a No. 13 seed; the Terrapins are No. 4.
"I've been through it a few times, but it never gets old," head coach Dave Magarity said. "For me, it's been quite awhile since I've been there as a head coach. It really is a special time."
The Black Knights clinched an automatic bid to the tournament Saturday when they defeated Holy Cross to win the Patriot League championship. Army is making its second NCAA appearance as a Division I program, after previously reaching the tournament in 2006. The Black Knights were picked as a No. 15 seed in 2006, losing to No. 2 Tennessee in the first round. Army also qualified for the Division II NCAA Tournament in 1984 and 1988.
"It's an amazing feeling," senior guard Jen Hazlett said. "This team deserves it more than anyone. Maryland is a really good team, and it's going to be a challenge for us, but we'll be ready."
The announcement came on ESPNU Monday night, and 2014 Patriot League Player of the Year and Patriot League tournament most valuable player Kelsey Minato was recognized by ESPN analysts when she was called "one of the best players in the country.”
"Seeing our name on the television screen made it real," Minato said. "We're still soaking in the moment and savoring it. I wasn't expecting to hear my name, but that was a really cool moment for me."
Army has visited Maryland twice this season, playing conference rivals Navy and Loyola.
"We've made this trip so many times, the travel won't be too demanding," Magarity said. "The fact that we're playing Maryland is tough. I've seen them play this year, and they're very athletic. They are an explosive team. They have great quickness and great offensive players. We're going to have zero in on that the next few days and get a feel for what we'll have to do to play with them."
Maryland lost to North Carolina, 73-70 in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. The Terps are 24-6; Army is 25-3.