NCAA Awards 2013 Regional Site To Bridgeport

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has again been awarded a regional site for the 2013 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, the NCAA announced Friday. This time the NCAA has placed the site at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport March 30-April 1.

The MAAC was originally scheduled to host the regional in Trenton, N.J. However, the NCAA announced Oct. 15 that it was forced to remove the regional from the site due to a new state law that permits gambling on both college and professional games.

The conference quickly sided with Fairfield University and the city of Bridgeport to maintain hold of the regional. It will be the second straight year that Fairfield will be involved in hosting a segment of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in Bridgeport.

“Bridgeport has proven to be a great host for our championship in the past and we are excited to be making a return this March,’’ said Carolayne Henry, chair of the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. “We appreciate both the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Fairfield University stepping forward to host because of this special circumstance and know our student-athletes and fans will enjoy a first-class experience.’’

The Bridgeport regional semifinal games are scheduled for March 30 at noon and 2:30 p.m. The regional final will held April 1 at 7:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Final Four in New Orleans April 7 and 9.

Fairfield last hosted a regional in Bridgeport in 2006. It has also hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

“The move of the regional site to Bridgeport made sense for a number of reasons,’’ MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor said. “Bridgeport and Webster Bank Arena have a long history of hosting NCAA championship events, while maintaining a regional host site on the East Coast is good for the championship and for the legion of fans living in the area that will now be able to be part of this unique championship experience.’’

With Bridgeport being awarded the regional, No. 2 UConn’s quest for an NCAA-record sixth straight trip to the Four Final will not leave Connecticut. The Huskies are hosting the first and second rounds of the tournament at Gampel Pavilion.

UConn previously reached the Final Four in 1995 and in 2004 after playing its first four games of the NCAA tournament in Connecticut.

“I think when Trenton lost it, through no fault of their own, I’m sure the NCAA was probably hopeful that somebody would step up,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “And Bridgeport being a place that’s had regionals and done it successfully, and they’ve had great crowds down there in past years, I’m not surprised. And I think it makes all the sense in the world. I think once a conference is going to step out and want to host it I think it’s the right thing to do to give them the opportunity to do that.’’