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Moran making the NCAA grade

Irish teen sensation Susan Moran bowed out of this year's NCAA Finals on Monday night, but not before making a mighty impression on American collegiate basketball. 

The 18 year old small forward rose to national prominence in Ireland in the 1998 Sprite Cup Finals after dashing from an exam to score over 50 points in taking her own Sacred Heart Academy school to the Irish title. 

Having crossed the Atlantic to join St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia for her rookie campaign, Moran not only led the Hawks to the Atlantic 10 Conference title but also picked up the Conference Rookie of the Year award. Add to that a team best 14.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and you can see why scouts from Europe and the WNBA will be keeping tabs on her progress. 

"Before coming over, I though about trying first for a (lower ranked) junior college, because I wasn't sure I would be good enough," admits Moran. "Now, the rest of the team laugh about it!" 

The 1.82m freshman scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as St. Joseph's overcame a 12-point deficit, shooting 54 percent in an 83-72 win over Tulane in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

However highly ranked Duke stood in the Hawks way of a Sweet 16 place and they proved too tough an opponent. Despite missing her first four shots, the pride of Tullamore helped her team to come back from an early deficit in front of a hostile home crowd, before finally succumbing 66-60, Moran scoring 16 points. 

"Now I know why they call it March Madness," said Moran. "It's crazy. It's mad. To be a part of it is a great experience." 

National team coach Gerry Fitzpatrick is hoping that she will bring some of the Moran Magic with her to the European Championships and there are sure to be a few more fans in Philadelphia next time round.

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