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Katherine Dunn | The Baltimore Sun | April 29, 2016

While other NCAA tourney bubble teams play games, Johns Hopkins women play waiting game

  Johns Hopkins has a lot of time to ponder its next move before the tournament begins.

For Johns Hopkins women's lacrosse coach Janine Tucker and her team, the next nine days will be "excruciatingly long."

While the other top Division I teams play in their conference tournament this week or next, the independent Blue Jays have finished their regular season and have nothing to do but practice and wait to see if they earn a berth in the NCAA tournament. The selections will be announced on May 8 at 9 p.m.

The Blue Jays (10-7) closed their season with a 12-9 win at then-No. 20 Boston College -- a good finish after rallying from an 8-3 halftime deficit -- but is it enough to get the Blue Jays into the 26-team field that includes 13 conference champion automatic qualifiers?

Tucker thinks so.

The Blue Jays are clearly on the bubble and they don't have another chance to boost their stock as other bubble teams could by pulling a major upset in their conference tournament.

"I think that if the teams at the top of their conferences win their conference AQs and there are no crazy upsets, we would have a chance," Tucker said. "We have to keep our fingers crossed, but I still think our big win over BC, having to battle in all these strong games and having a really good strength of schedule gives us a chance."

While the Blue Jays wait for word, they will finish classes Friday and cheer on the Blue Jays men as they host the Big Ten Conference Tournament at Homewood Field.

Tucker and her team won't face this dilemma next year. They move into the Big Ten and will play for their own tournament championship.

Northwestern needs big finish to make the NCAA tournament: Northwestern stands on the brink of seeing its run of 12 straight NCAA tournament appearances come to an end. During that stretch the Wildcats won seven national championships and made the final four three other times.

MORE: The top seven goal scorers in men's lacrosse

At 7-8, the No. 18 Wildcats need to finish at least .500 -- a requirement to get into the tournament. They play at No. 14 Ohio State Friday afternoon before heading to Rutgers for the Big Ten Tournament next week.

If they beat Ohio State, they would need to win at least one game in the Big Ten Tournament to hit .500. If they fall to Ohio State, the Wildcats' only path back to the NCAAs would be to win the Big Ten Tournament -- a challenging task considering they likely would draw No. 1 Maryland or No. 13 Penn State in the semifinals. They lost to defending national champion Maryland, 17-4, on March 31 and fell to defending Big Ten champ Penn State, 17-13, Saturday.

Should they reach .500, the Wildcats likely have the criteria to make it into the 26-team tournament field. They're first in strength of schedule, playing 12 teams ranked in the Top 10 at some point this season, and they have quality wins over Top 10 teams Stony Brook and Penn, which are all but certain to earn tournament berths.

Second season for BC's Kent: Boston College midfielder Kenzie Kent played in only eight games before the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, but she soared to fifth in points among the Eagles and earned second-team All-ACC honors.

The sophomore got a late start because her Eagles ice hockey team reached the national championship game, so the two-time U.S. Under-18 national ice hockey team member remained on the ice well into lacrosse season.

After the Eagles lost the hockey final, 3-1, to Minnesota on March 20, Kent played in her first lacrosse game of the season six days later, leading the Eagles with two goals and two assists in a 13-12 loss to No. 3 North Carolina. Two weeks later, she had 10 points -- the most by a player in the ACC during this regular season -- and the second-most in Boston College history during the Eagles' first-ever win over Dartmouth, 14-9.

Her six assists in a last week's 16-9 win over Harvard boosted her into a tie for second place on the Eagles single-game assists list. She finished her abbreviated regular season with 16 goals and 16 assists.

Quick hits: No. 1 Maryland leads Division I in scoring margin, winning by an average of 9.19 goals. ... Princeton's Ellie DeGarmo (Bryn Mawr) ranks No. 1 in save percentage at .548. ... Maryland freshman Megan Taylor (Glenelg) is third in goals against average at 6.04. ... Maryland attacker Megan Whittle (McDonogh) is sixth in goals per game with 3.5. ... Division III No. 3 Salisbury has not lost to a Capital Athletic Conference opponent in 15 years.

This article was written by Katherine Dunn from The Baltimore Sun and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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