The Immaculata Mighty Macs women’s basketball team is set for the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday as they face off against the Trine University Thunder. The Macs’ meeting with the Thunder follows a successful 18-8 season for the Macs including an 8-4 record in Atlantic East Conference play. The Mighty Macs’ first-ever berth into the NCAA Tournament follows the program’s first Atlantic East Conference Championship title.
“It is such an amazing accomplishment for our team and program to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time,” began head coach Chrissy Rhine. “Everyone is very excited to have the opportunity to represent our school in the NCAA Tournament.”
Poetically, the Macs’ berth in the NCAA Tournament coincides with the 50th anniversary of the fabled ‘Mighty Macs’ team of 1972, which claimed the first ever Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) championship. The Mighty Macs went on to win three consecutive titles from 1972-1974.
The Mighty Macs earned their ticket to the dance after defeating Gwynedd Mercy in the Atlantic East Championship 70-57 on Saturday. Theresa Kearney and Morgan Falcone led the way for the Mighty Macs on the game, both recording double-doubles. Kearney led the Macs with 15 points scored while Falcone recorded a team-high 15 rebounds. The Macs also kept a potent Griffins offense at bay, keeping them to a 20-for-66 (30.3%) mark from the field and a 6-for-34 (17.6%) from beyond the arc.
“We played as a team against Gwynedd on Saturday,” explained Rhine. “We shared the ball, shot with confidence, and were aggressive on defense.”
Immaculata will now face off against Trine University, which will serve as the host for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Trine reaches the NCAA Tournament following a 24-3 season, posting a 15-1 record in conference play as a member of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). Trine is coming off a 54-50 loss to Hope College in the MIAA Championship game on Saturday and earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Seniors Tara Bieniewicz and Kayla Wildman highlight the Thunder’s offensive threats, having scored 294 points and 259 points respectively on the season. Bieniewicz shot a team-leading 71-for-168 (42.3%) from beyond the arc on the season. Defensively, Kelsy Taylor and Sam Underhill lead the Thunder with 142 and 138 rebounds on the season.
“Trine is one of the best teams in the country,” described Rhine. “We are going to stick to what has gotten us to the tournament and play as hard as we can for 40 minutes.”
The Mighty Macs are led by two-way threat Theresa Kearney. Kearney leads the Macs with 343 points on the season, currently standing in second in program history in career points scored, while also leading the Macs defensively with 181 rebounds. Abigail Lentowski and Morgan Falcone also act as main contributors for the Macs having scored 233 and 226 points on the season. Lentowski also racks up rebounds for the Macs, earning 174 on her freshman year campaign.
“What is so great about our team is that there are not just one or two particular players that we are reliant on. We have different players step up for every game and they root on each other’s successes. Theresa Kearney, Meghan Ricker, and Sydney Ott are our three senior leaders that the girls will lean on for guidance and direction on Friday,” concluded Rhine.
The Mighty Macs will face off against the Thunder on Friday, March 4th at 7:00 P.M. in the MTI Center located on Trine University’s campus. The victor will then move on to the second round of the tournament where they will face the winner of John Carroll versus Elizabethtown. Round two will also take place at the MTI Center on Saturday, March 5th at 5:00 P.M.
Tickets for the Macs’ contest with the Thunder will be sold at the gate on Friday. General admission tickets cost $10 while tickets for seniors and students cost $7.
For additional information, see the Tournament Central page here.