Here's how MAAC teams did in non-NCAA post-season tournaments, with some observations:
- The Iona women drew a most-difficult first-round opponent in the women's NIT, and suffered an 88-53 loss to Maryland this past Friday.
Sophomore forward Kristina Ford had 20 points for the Gaels, who finished second in the MAAC's regular-season standings and wind up 18-14 overall. it was Iona's third trip to a national post-season tournament in the past four seasons under coach Tony Borzella.
Although the Gaels lose first-team all-star guard Thazina Cook, and solid inside player Anna McLean, there is enough talent returning for Iona to be strong again next season.
If any team appears capable next season of finally ending Marist's lengthy run of success in recent years, it is likely to be Iona.
- Fairfield had both men's and women's teams play in the post season, and both squads won first-round games.
The men played in the CollegeInisder.com Postseason Tournament. There, the Stags earned a 101-96 overtime victory in a first-round game against George Mason's in the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. Senior center Anthony Johnson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman guard Derek Needham had 21 points and 7 assists. The game was played on March 16.
The Stags' season ended on Monday with a 73-55 loss to Creighton in the event's second round at Creighton's Omaha Civic Auditorium home court in Omaha, Neb. Johnson had 19 points and seven rebounds, while Needham had 15 points and five assists.
Fairfield finishes with a 23-11 record accounting for the highest single-season victory total in school history.
Johnson, the 6-8, 250-pound tower of inside power, will be tough to replace. But Needham, already an elite-level player at this level, could very well be the MAAC's top player next season. This blogger's early opinion is that Fairfield is next season's conference team to beat.
- The Fairfield women got that program's first-ever post-season victory when it earned a 69-55 Women's Basketball Invitational victory over Towson last Thursday in a game played at Fairfield's Alumni Gymnasiu. Senior center Stephanie Geehan finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. Sophomore guard Desiree Pina added 14 points and four assists.
The Stags then lost the next round, dropping a 59-36 decision, at Appalachian State, the event's top-seeded team.
Geehan had 10 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. She finishes her career with 287 career blocks, the highest career total in MAAC history.
Fairfield finished with a 20-14 overall record, the second time in the past three seasons iit has won 20 games since coach Joe Frager took over the program. Overall, it was Fairfield's eighth 20-win season in the program's history.
The Stags then lost in