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NCAA women’s basketball moving to 4-quarter format this season



Women’s college basketball fans have always known the game to be two 20-minute halves. It’s mimicked the men’s game for the majority of rules since becoming a sanctioned sport. Those days are now over, as Monday after the NCAA announced that it will be going to four 10-minute long quarters.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved moving the game to the new format and away from the 20-minute halves the sport has always used in NCAA competition on a conference call today.

It’s a dramatic departure from the men’s game and a significant step towards normalizing the rules across the basketball spectrum. After all, the collegiate game is the only one in which they play two equal halves and not four equal quarters.

So, why such a change?

According to the release from the NCAA:

[quote_center]The NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee, which initially recommended the rule change, believes the four-quarter format will enhance the flow of the game. The change also was endorsed by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Board of Directors.[/quote_center]

Along with that change, there will be changes to other parts of the format of the game. The most significant change comes in the way the TV timeout plays out, with only one per quarter happening at the first dead ball after the five minute mark in each quarter.

On the court, the biggest change besides format comes in how fouls are going to work. Teams will reach the bonus and be able to take two free throws after the fifth foul in each quarter, and in the final quarter that the bonus will extend to overtime. Team fouls will reset to zero at the end of each quarter obviously.

The women’s game is also going all-in on offensive basketball with the next rule change approved today:


The panel approved a rule that allows teams to advance the ball to the frontcourt following a timeout immediately after a made basket in the last 59.9 seconds of the fourth quarter and any overtime periods.

Teams also will be allowed to advance the ball to the frontcourt after securing the ball from a rebound or a change of possession. In these scenarios, the ball would be inbounded at the 28-foot mark on the side of the court where the scorer’s table is located.

The committee made the initial recommendation because it felt this change would add more excitement to offensive possessions at the ends of games because teams would no longer be required to travel the length of the court after inbounding the ball.


Will the game become more watchable with a more recognizable format and some changes to increase pace of play? Time will tell, but the people involved in the game certainly aren’t afraid to go big.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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