Chattanooga guard Jada Guinn is cheered by teammates as she...

Chattanooga guard Jada Guinn is cheered by teammates as she is awarded the Most Valuable Player award for NCAA women's college basketball championship game for the Southern Conference tournament, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Asheville, N.C. Chattanooga won 69-60 over UNC Greensboro. Credit: AP/Kathy Kmonicek

Chattanooga’s Jada Guinn entered the postseason with a little extra incentive.

Although she earned first-team all-Southern Conference honors, Guinn wasn’t selected as the league’s player of the year.

“That was kind of like a goal of mine,” the 5-foot-8 guard said. “I felt like I deserved it. I didn’t get it, but it just gave me a chip on my shoulder to go into the tournament and prove how good of a player I thought I was.”

Guinn scored 33 points in a 66-55 Southern Conference semifinal victory over Mercer and had 32 more points when Chattanooga defeated UNC Greensboro 69-60 in the championship game. She shot 23 of 37 from the floor and 19 of 22 from the free-throw line in those two games.

Her brilliant performance helped earn Chattanooga (28-4) an NCAA Tournament first-round matchup with North Carolina State (27-6) on Saturday at Raleigh, North Carolina.

This NCAA bid caps a spectacular season for Guinn, who has scored a career-high 19.7 points per game in her first year at a new school. Guinn transferred to Chattanooga after spending four seasons at Tennessee Tech, a tenure that included a trip to the NCAA tourney as Ohio Valley Tournament champions.

“I just felt like it was a time for me to move on to something new,” said Guinn, who also has 6.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

Fairfield's Janelle Brown, left, dribbles the ball as Manhattan's Sini...

Fairfield's Janelle Brown, left, dribbles the ball as Manhattan's Sini Mȁkelȁ defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the championship of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament, Saturday, March 12, 2022, in Atlantic City, N.J. Brown, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of the year, has helped Fairfield (31-1) win 29 consecutive games. Credit: AP/Matt Rourke

A year ago, Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech were No. 16 seeds that got blown out in the first round. Chattanooga fell 58-33 to Virginia Tech, while Tennessee Tech lost 77-47 to Indiana.

Guinn and Chattanooga are hoping they can become more competitive now that they’ve joined forces. They enter this tournament as a No. 14 seed in the Portland 4 Region.

“When you haven’t really experienced something, you don’t really know what to expect,” Guinn said. “Just knowing how the crowd’s going to be, how there’s so much more media and how it can be distracting. (It helps) just knowing what to expect and just knowing I’ve been there before.”

Guinn is one of several women’s players from one-bid leagues who have a chance to make an impact on this NCAA Tournament.

Maine's Anne Simon drives during the second half of an...

Maine's Anne Simon drives during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Championship of the America East Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2022, at Orono, Maine. For two of the last three seasons, Simon has earned a dual honor as the America East Conference’s overall player of the year and defensive player of the year. Credit: AP/Robert F. Bukaty

JANELLE BROWN, Fairfield

Brown, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of the year, has helped Fairfield (31-1) win 29 consecutive games. The 5-6 guard scored 15 points in the MAAC championship game as the Stags rallied from a 13-point, second-half deficit to beat Niagara 70-62 in overtime. Brown averages 13.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.5 steals while shooting 57.8% from the floor and 44.8% from 3-point range.

First-round game: Saturday at Indiana (24-5)

EMANI JEFFERSON, Florida Gulf Coast

After playing one season at Wright State and two at Memphis, Jefferson has thrived in her first season at FGCU. The 5-6 guard was named the Atlantic Sun’s overall player of the year, defensive player of the year and co-newcomer of the year. Jefferson averages 16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds. 3.8 assists and 2 steals. She will try to help FGCU (29-4) continue its tradition of outperforming its NCAA Tournament seed. The Eagles have advanced beyond the first round as a No. 12 seed three of the last six seasons. They’re seeded 12th again this year and have won 22 straight games.

First-round game: Saturday vs. Oklahoma (22-9) at Bloomington, Indiana

JAMIE LOERA, Eastern Washington

Loera was named the Big Sky’s player of the year and, for the second year in a row, defensive player of the year. The 5-9 guard has averaged 13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.5 steals while shooting 40.4% from 3-point range. Loera has spent the last two years at Eastern Washington (29-5) after playing three seasons at Arizona State.

First-round game: Friday at Oregon State (24-7)

ANNE SIMON, Maine

For two of the last three seasons, Simon has earned a dual honor as the America East Conference’s player of the year and defensive player of the year. The exception came during the 2022-23 season, when an ankle injury limited her to 14 games. Simon averages 18.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists for the Black Bears (24-9). The 5-9 guard from Luxembourg had 34 points, 11 rebounds and five steals in a 67-59 loss to Indiana this season.

First-round game: Friday at Ohio State (25-5)

CHLOE WEBB, California Baptist

Webb, the Western Athletic Conference player of the year, is averaging 21.1 points and 8.1 rebounds. She ranks 14th among all Division I players in points per game. The 5-8 guard had 24 points and 15 rebounds in a 75-74 WAC championship game victory over Stephen F. Austin. She has scored at least 20 points in 10 of her last 14 games. Webb has spent the last two seasons at California Baptist (28-3) after playing three years for UC Irvine.

First-round game: Saturday at UCLA (25-6)

SAVANNAH WHEELER, Middle Tennessee

Wheeler has scored 2,303 career points and has averaged at least 13.4 points each of her five seasons in college. The 5-6 guard has 17.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5 assists per game this season while helping Middle Tennessee (29-4) win each of its last 19 games. She was named the Conference USA player of the year. This is Wheeler’s second season at Middle Tennessee after she played three years at Marshall.

First-round game: Friday vs. Louisville (24-9) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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