Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Spartan women's basketball hoping to find tourney magic

March 20, 2014

Klarissa Bell hasn’t necessarily made great NCAA Tournament memories during her four-year career as a Spartan.

With the previous three tournaments ending in a second-round exit, first-round exit, and a second-round exit once again last year, Bell is optimistic her final trip, this time in Chapel Hill, N.C., will end on a better note.

“Going to North Carolina brings sun and that brings everybody’s energy and moods up,” Bell said. “New facility, new area, hopefully we can make some good memories there.”

On Sunday at 12:30 p.m., the No. 5 Spartans will take on No. 12 Hampton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner will face the victor of Sunday’s 3 p.m. Tennessee-Martin/North Carolina game.

The Spartans will prepare for Hampton’s athletic, pressing defense. Senior forward Annalise Pickrel said the Spartans have used the last few days in practice to adapt to the Pirates’ fast of play.

"They run a lot, they pressure, they’re athletic and they offensive rebound like crazy,” Pickrel said. “Some of those I would say are our weaknesses to defend, definitely (offensive) boards. So we’ll have to do a good job boxing out and we’ve been working on that all week.”

Pickrel mentioned being dissatisfied with her team’s Big Ten play, which featured more than a few frustrating losses and a blowout loss to Nebraska in the semifinal round of the tournament.

Not repeating the Big Ten performance will be a focus heading into the NCAA Tournament.

“We all have a pretty sour taste in our mouths from the Nebraska game, so I think over the course of this past week coach has been kicking our butts in practice,” Pickrel said. “We’re really trying to, in practice, not trying to be the team we were in the Big Ten Tournament. We know how to do that, we know how to come out of that, so that’s kinda what our focus has been.”

Potentially awaiting on the other side of the bracket is No. 4 North Carolina, a top-15 team with three freshmen in the starting lineup.

"I’ve been a little dissatisfied with our Big Ten play, but I think when we get to the tournament everybody is gonna bring a lot of fight,” Pickrel said. “I think that will take care of some of that dissatisfaction.”


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