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REALITY BITES FOR ALL BUT TOP WOMEN'S SEEDS
SIENA, FAIRFIELD EXPECTED IN FINAL

Life is much simpler on the women's side of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.

All right, so all the coaches believe it's a wide-open tournament that anyone can win.

Reality check: No. 1 Siena and No. 2 Fairfield will be slugging it out for the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with the loser hoping its 20-plus-win season is good enough for an at-large berth.

St. Peter's was hoping for a three-peat, but the Peahens look ready to be dethroned.

Here's a capsule look at the teams and their chances at cutting down the nets in Sunday's championship game.

No. 1 Siena

At a glance: It has the best rebounder and third-highest scorer in the MAAC in sophomore forward Gunta Basko (17 ppg, 10 rpg. Freshman Liene Jansone, a heavy favorite for rookie of the year, poses another problem on the boards, with her third-best league average of 9.2 rebounds; she tosses in 13.5 points a game for good measure. Siena is the best offensive team in the conference, averaging 76.4 points a game and winning by an average of 10.5 points.

They'll cut down the nets if: they can outgun Fairfield.

No. 2 Fairfield

At a glance: Senior center Gail Strumpf, who became the school's all-time leading scorer this year, dominates the lane on both ends of the floor. She ranks fourth in the MAAC in scoring (15.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.13) while leading in blocks (2.42). Her complement is senior guard Holli Tapley, who averages 16.4 points while shooting a league-best 43.3 percent from three-point range.

They'll cut down the nets if: their seniors show up.

No. 3 Loyola

At a glance: Senior forward Erica Rath (11.3 ppg) and point guard Shannon Cohen (4 assists, 2.8 steals) pace the Greyhounds. Loyola has the stingiest defense in the MAAC, allowing opponents to score just 61.2 points a game while holding them to just 38.5 percent from the field.

They'll cut down the nets if: their defense can shut down Siena's and Fairfield's explosive offenses.

No. 4 St. Peter's

At a glance: The two-time defending MAAC champions are led by senior guard Courtney Wicks, averaging 15 points a game, and senior center Leah Cromer, averaging 8.1 rebounds a game. They hold the best rebounding margin in the conference, grabbing 6.8 more boards a game than their opponent.

They'll cut down the nets if: somebody upsets Siena.

No. 5 Manhattan

At a glance: Senior center Brita Hinkle ranks first in steals in the conference (2.81 per game) while being the second-best rebounder, averaging 9.26 per game. The Jaspers lead the league in steals while ranking third in field goal percentage defense and three-point field goal percentage defense.

They'll cut down the nets if: somebody else beats Siena and Fairfield.

No. 6 Niagara

At a glance: The Purple Eagles' only senior, center Amy Getman, leads the league in scoring, averaging 19.4 per game. She's an ace from the free throw line, too, hitting a league-best 88.6 percent. Sophomore point guard Katie Murphy ranks in the top seven in both assists and steals. Niagara is the second-worst rebounding team in the MAAC with opponents grabbing 8.3 more boards a game. They do, however, have the best foul shooting team in the MAAC (78.2 percent).

They'll cut down the nets if: the championship is decided by a free-throw shooting contest.

No. 7 Iona

At a glance: Junior guard Megan Cobb and senior forward Karen Culbertson are averaging 15.0 and 14.9 points per game, respectively. Cobb also ranks fifth in steals with 2.0 per game. They have the least productive offense in the MAAC, averaging just 62.3 points a game and have the worst turnover margin at minus-4.9.

They'll cut down the nets if: they amend the rules so that the team with the fewest points wins.

No. 8 Marist

At a glance: Freshman guard Nina Vecchio leads the league in assists per game, averaging 5.63. Junior center Diesa Seidel leads the Red Foxes in scoring with 11.9 points per game and in rebounding with 5.96. They're losing by an average of eight points, and average just 64 points a game.

They'll cut down the nets if: the rest of the field comes down with the flu.

No. 9 Canisius

At a glance: Go figure. The Griffs have the second-worst record in the league and the second-best scorer. Junior forward Shauna Geronzin is averaging 18.5 points a game and ranks seventh in rebounding with 7.92 per game. Junior point guard Tricia Breznitsky is third in assists (4.46) and seventh in steals (1.96). Their three-point shooting (32.1 percent) keeps them in games as does their rebounding (41.7 per game). But defense is a lost art for the Griffs, who give up 75.2 points a game.

They'll cut down the nets if: three-point shots are upped to six points each.

No. 10 Rider

At a glance: Junior guard Tanya Cross is averaging 14.7 points and 6.25 rebounds a game. They're giving up a league-worst 76.26 points per game. They're being outscored by an average of 11.6 points a game and outrebounded by an average of 11.2 per game.

They'll cut down the nets if: they bring their own scissors to Delaware Park.

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