Auburn women win in 1st NCAA since ’09, beating St. John’s

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WACO, Texas (AP) Auburn has set the tone all season with defense, and that worked again in its first NCAA Tournament game since 2009.

Freshman guard Janiah McKay scored a career-high 24 points and the Tigers forced 25 turnovers in a 68-57 victory over St. John’s in a first-round game Friday night.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how excited and proud I am of my young ladies to come out and play defense as impressive as they did,” coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “It goes to show you how much they have bought into our defense and how they’ve continued to play it day in, day out and how we knew we had to get after St. John’s.”

The Lady Tigers (20-12), the No. 9 seed in the Dallas Region, jumped ahead 15-4 in the game’s first 5 minutes, including three layups after turnovers by St. John’s. That last in that opening spurt was a steal by Janiah McKay that led to her fastbreak layup.

It was 19-6 at the end of the first quarter, the lowest-scoring quarter all season for St. John’s (23-10). The Red Storm finished with their third-lowest scoring output in a season that included their first Big East Conference tournament championship since 1998.

“We knew we had to get out with momentum and that just really kept us going,” said Jazmine Jones, who had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting. “We knew we had to get out with momentum and that just really kept us going. It was definitely our defense that did it for us. That’s what got us here. We are going to keep playing defense like Auburn basketball does.”

Danaejah Grant had 25 points to lead St. John’s (23-10), while Aliyyah Handford scored 10.

Brandy Montgomery added 11 points for Auburn, which now has to face top-seeded Baylor (34-1) on the Lady Bears’ home court.

Baylor is 19-0 at home this season and has won 165 consecutive games at the Ferrell Center against unranked opponents.

The last to win there?

Auburn in the 2003 WNIT final, an answer Jones and McKay didn’t know until being told that.

“Wow!,” McKay said after looking at her teammate.

St. John’s was within 37-34 when Grant’s jumper with 6 minutes left in the third quarter capped a 7-0 run. But the Tigers extended their lead back to 44-35 on a 3-pointer by McKay with a minute left in the quarter.

“Even when we could get a couple of runs, we couldn’t sustain it because we would score twice and then turn it over for points,” Red Storm coach Joe Tartamella said. “It was like a seesaw where we couldn’t really gain momentum over time.”

NIL and NCAA: What to know about the new policy and how NBC Sports can help

NCAA College World Series
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As of July 1, 2021, a new NCAA policy has been in effect allowing student-athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). As long as the activities are “consistent with the law of the state where the school is located,” athletes now have the opportunity to accept endorsements from brands, monetize their social media presences, and work with professional firms to coordinate deals.

Click here for additional information and guidelines regarding NCAA NIL policies and keep reading to find answers to questions such as how NIL works as well as how NBC Sports can help.

What is NIL and NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is coming to a school near you. The program enables college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) through a unique marketplace that connects athletes with advertisers. NBC Sports Athlete Direct will work to provide equal opportunities to all student-athletes, regardless of which team you play on or any statistical performance.

How will the NIL Marketplace work?

Advertisers will use NBC Sports Athlete Direct to make NIL offers available to college student-athletes. College student-athletes will then have the option to participate in the NIL offer. Those who decide to participate and complete the advertiser’s campaign requirements will be compensated based on a predetermined rate.

How much money can athletes make participating in NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Compensation will vary by advertiser campaign.

When will NBC Sports Athlete Direct launch and how can I sign up?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct will officially launch in the Fall of 2022 but prior to that, we will be launching a pilot program soon, exclusively for Temple and Vanderbilt student-athletes.

In the meantime, click here to fill out a student-athlete interest form and once it is available at your school, we will notify you and provide you with additional information on how to sign up.

If I participate in NIL offers from NBC Sports Athlete Direct, do I still have the freedom to do other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Yes, this program is non-exclusive so our student-athletes will have the freedom to participate in other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

What are the rules or restrictions for participating in this program?

Unfortunately, international students and students under the age of 18 are not eligible to participate in the pilot program at this time.

Kentucky to allow college athletes to earn off likeness

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes – including players on the nationally renowned Kentucky and Louisville men’s basketball teams – to make money through the use of their name, image or likeness.

The Democratic governor said he took the action as a matter of fairness for college athletes. It will spare Kentucky’s colleges from being at a competitive disadvantage with rivals in other states that will have laws enabling athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, he said.

“This is important to our student-athletes, who for decades, others – whether it’s companies or institutions – have profited on,” Beshear told reporters. “These athletes deserve to be a part of that.”

Beshear said his executive order takes effect July 1, when similar legislation passed in several other states will become law. His office said he was the first governor to make the change by executive order.

The governor’s action won praise from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. UK plays in the Southeastern Conference and UofL competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical,” Vince Tyra, U of L’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a release issued by the governor’s office.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the governor’s action “provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness.”

“We are appreciative of that support, as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted,” Barnhart said in the same release from Beshear’s office. “The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago.”

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, laws go into effect July 1 that make it impermissible for the NCAA and members schools to prevent athletes from being paid by third parties for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.

The NCAA had hoped for a national law from Congress that has not come, and its own rule-making has been bogged down for months. College sports leaders are instead moving toward the type of patchwork regulation they have been warning against for months.