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In first trip to NCAA Tournament, SLU to face Tennessee

SLU was given a 13 seed and will face one of the most prestigious teams in women's college basketball history.
Credit: AP
Saint Louis' Julia Martinez (11) dribbles around Massachusetts' Stefanie Kulesza (44) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball championship game in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Jason Minto)

ST. LOUIS — For the first time in team history, the Saint Louis University women's basketball team is heading to the NCAA Tournament.

A week after winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament in dramatic fashion, the Billikens learned their NCAA Tournament fate. They will face off against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in Knoxville.

SLU got a 13 seed and will face one of the most prestigious teams in women's college basketball history.

Tennessee has won eight NCAA titles in program history, all under legendary head coach Pat Summitt. They have made an appearance in every NCAA tournament, a streak that dates back to 1982.

Last Sunday, SLU guard Julia Martinez had a triple-double and Kyla McMakin scored 25 points to earn the team's first ever NCAA Tournament berth with a 91-85 win over defending champion Massachusetts in the Atlantic 10 championship game on Sunday.

McMakin, on an assist from Martinez, hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:02 left in overtime, starting a 12-0 run she capped with two free throws at 12.7 seconds for an 89-79 lead.

Top-seeded UMass got back to back 3-pointers by Sydney Taylor and Sam Breen in the closing seconds after missing 10-straight shots following Taylor's buzzer-beating 3 at the end of regulation.

Fittingly Martinez, who had 17 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, four steals and a block for the second triple-double in school history, closed it out with the final two free throws. The tournament MVP had only one turnover in 44 minutes.

Saint Louis coach Rebecca Tillett joined Iowa Lisa Bluder as the only coaches in the women’s game to go to back-to-back NCAA tourneys with different teams. Tillett was at Longwood in the Southern Conference last season while Bluder did it with Drake (2000) and the Hawkeyes (2001).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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