Salem State Set To Face Tufts In NCAA Tournament

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Salem State’s Marcus Faison and the Vikings will take on Tufts University in the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament’s First Round on Friday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Salem State Athletics)

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

Salem State University men’s basketball coach Chris Harvey knows his Vikings will be challenged on the opening day of the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Winners of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC), the Vikings earned a date with Tufts University this Friday at St. John Fisher College (Pittsford, N.Y.) with tip-off scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Salem State and Tufts did not meet this season, but did compete against each other last year at the New England Big 4 Challenge. The Jumbos beat the Vikings, 90-77, thanks to 25 points from Vincent Pace and 20 points from Tom Palleschi.

“It’s going to be a tough match-up for us,” Harvey said of his team’s first-round contest against the Jumbos.

“Coach (Bob) Sheldon is as good as an offensive coach that you will find and they’re playing good defense as well, so it’s cliché, but we will have to bring an A-effort to stay in the game, and if we do that and get a little bit of tempo going then we’ll have a fighting chance.”

The Jumbos, who advanced to this year’s NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid, enter the postseason winners of 20 contests. They saw their bid toward a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown conclude last Saturday with an 81-65 setback to Williams College.

Despite not facing the Jumbos this season, Harvey and his crew would consider themselves ‘very familiar’ with Tufts – in a way, they believe their last meeting, along with some current film study will help with crafting a game plan for defending the Powder Blue and White.

“We’re very familiar with Tufts (despite) not playing them this year,” Harvey said. “We played them last year and didn’t have success (against them), but we know a little bit about their (current) personnel and we’ll have to dive into film here and try to piece together a plan of attack.”

Part of that so-called ‘attack’ will be attempting to find a way to slow down Tufts’ offense, which has averaged 83 points per game this season. Not only can they score inside the paint, but also outside the half circle, too.

In order to be successful, the Vikings will need every member of its roster to step-up, whether it is on offense or defense. They’ll need their seniors and captains – Marcus Faison and Shyheim Davis-Smith – to guide them, along with some long-range field goals from Jacob Lindland. Additionally, they’ll need Faison and Drew Healy to control the glass on defense.

“We have to do what we do,” said Harvey, “and make sure how we play gets the most of our focus in practice. We’re not going to recreate Tufts, every set they run, every tendency they have, every individual player stuff … I am just a believer in really focusing on what you’re doing and put a lot of focus on that, what they’re doing and at the end of the day just go in confident with your game plan and try to execute and adjust in the flow of the game when you can.”

The winner of Salem State-Tufts will meet host St. John Fisher-St. Lawrence on Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m.

Noontime Sports The Podcast: Episode 20 Hayden Bird (Boston.com)

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By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Noontime Sports the Podcast returned after a few week hiatus with guest Hayden Bird of Boston.com.

Bird joined host Matt Noonan to discuss his experience covering the Super Bowl during ‘Media Week,’ while also attempting to answer the question: Is Tom Brady the best quarterback in the National Football League (N.F.L.)?

If you’re a New England Patriots fan or just a die-hard football fan, then this is a must-listen to podcast!

Follow Bird on Twitter at @HaydenHBird and make sure to read his various posts and stories on Boston.com, too.

Noontime Sports is now on SoundCloud, so make sure to become a fan of our page today! 

WACBA Honor Roll (Men’s Basketball) Week 13

Marcos Echevarria

Nichols’ Marcos Echevarria was tabbed this week’s WACBA Co-Player of the Week. (Photo Credit: Nichols College Athletics)

By WACBA Hoops (@WACBAHoops) 

WORCESTER, Mass.  Another week of college basketball is in the books, which means it is time to dish out our Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WABCA) Men’s Honor Roll, including our Player and Rookie of the Week.

Men’s Player of the Week: Marcos Echevarria (Nichols | Soph. | Lynn, Mass.): Echevarria averaged 23 points, 6.3 assist, 5 rebounds, and two steals to backstop the Bison to their first Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship in program history last Saturday. In the championship contest against Endicott, Echevarria scored eight points in the final 40 seconds of the contest as the Bison rallied from a seven-point deficit to stun the Gulls. The CCC Player of the Year netted 25 points and dished out eight dimes in the first round against University of New England, then collected 21 points, seven assists, and six boards in the semifinals against Wentworth.

Robert Champion (Holy Cross | Sr. | Charlotte, N.C.): In a 1-1 week for the Crusaders, Champion averaged 20 points, five rebounds and 1.5 steals. He began the week with 13 points, five rebounds, two steals and one assist as Holy Cross edged Loyola, 63-62. Against Boston University, the senior guard netted 27 points – one point shy of his career-high. He finished the contest against the Terriers with five triples, five rebounds and one assist. For the week, he tallied 40 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, while registering a trio of steals and pair of assists, while sinking 8 of 11 free throws.

Men’s Player of the Week: Jerome Cunningham (Nichols | Fr. | Westbury, N.Y.): Cunningham averaged a double-double with 10.3 points and 14.0 rebounds to help the Bison secure their first Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship in program history. The 6-8 freshman posted 10 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks against University of New England in the quarterfinals, then went for 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks in the semifinals against Wentworth. In the championship contest against Endicott, Cunningham filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. Cunningham shot 52 percent from the field.

Men’s Honor Roll

Kareem Davis (Becker | Soph. | Lowell, Mass.): Davis scored 31 points, making six three-pointers and going 11 of 11 from the free throw line to lead Becker to an exciting 79-70 upset victory at Southern Vermont College in the New England Collegiate Conference Championship (NECC) final. Davis was tabbed the Most Valuable Player of the NECC Tournament the same week he was named to the All-Conference team. For the week, the sophomore averaged 21.5 points with 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals while shooting a perfect 100 percent on his free throws to lead the Hawks into the NCAA Tournament.

Ryan DiBernardo (Worcester State | Sr. | Springfield, Mass.): DiBernardo led the Lancers in a 2-1 week as he averaged 14 points, four assists, and 3.7 rebounds. He tallied 10 points and seven rebounds in the win over Westfield State, and then picked up 17 points, five assists, and three rebounds in the win over Fitchburg State, helping the team to the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) championship game. Against Salem State in the final round, he totaled 15 points, three assists and one rebound.

Cal Howes (Worcester State | Fr. | Maynard, Mass.): The rookie averaged 10.3 points in a 2-1 week for the Lancers. He picked up 12 points, a rebound and a steal in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) quarterfinal win over Westfield State, and then helped the Blue and Gold with seven points, three rebounds and an assist in the semifinal win over Fitchburg. In the MASCAC Championship game, Howes registered 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and a block.

Ian Converse (WPI | Sr. | Woodstock, Conn.): Converse went off for 23 points and nine rebounds in Saturday’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) semifinal versus eventual champion MIT. The senior shot 50 percent from inside the arc and was 3-for-4 at the free throw line in what proved to be his final game with the Crimson and Gray.

 

WACBA Honor Roll (Women’s Basketball) Week 13

Ama Biney (WPI)

Ama Biney was tabbed this week’s WACBA Women’s Player of the Week. (PHOTO CREDIT: Frank Poulin)

By WACBA Hoops (@WACBAHoops) 

WORCESTER, Mass.  Another week of college basketball is in the books, which means it is time to dish out our Worcester Area College Basketball Association (WABCA) Women’s Honor Roll, including our Player and Rookie of the Week.

Women’s Player of the Week: Ama Biney (WPI | Jr. | Worcester, Mass.): Biney wrapped up her third campaign by averaging 15.7 points and 5.7 rebound to go with 10 steals, six assists and three blocks in a 2-1 week. She totaled 18 points in each of the first two games of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament before adding 11 points in the championship against Babson. In the semifinal versus Clark, Biney amassed seven rebounds and seven steals.

Women’s Rookie of the Week: Lauren Manis (Holy Cross | Fr. | Franklin, Mass.): In a 1-1 week, the first-year forward averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, while sinking 8 of 10 freebies. Against Loyola – a 59-58 win for the Crusaders – Manis tallied a new career-best with five steals, while posting her fourth 20-point game of the season. She concluded the contest with 22 points, seven rebounds, five steals, three blocks and one assist. Against Boston University, she netted 13 points, sank a pair of free throws, while recording six caroms and two assists.

Women’s Honor Roll:

Catherine Sweeney (Worcester State | Fr. | Lowell, Mass.): The first-year guard tallied a career-high 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one block in the Lancers’ Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) quarterfinal setback to MCLA. Sweeney went 4-for-5 (80%) from the field and made 8-of-8 (100%) free throws to total the 16 points.

Second Half Surge Sends Middlebury Past Williams in NESCAC Championship

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Middlebury College men’s basketball celebrated its second-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship Sunday with an

By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11) 

Middlebury College men’s basketball coach Jeff Brown didn’t need to share any inspirational words at the break.

Instead, the tenured coach, who displayed his ‘calm demeanor’ in the locker room, told his team what they needed to correct in the second half.

And those corrections were fixed rather quickly as the Panthers overcame a four-point deficit (40-36) by commencing the second session on a 16-0 run, which carried the Blue and White to an 84-62 victory over Williams College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship on Sunday afternoon at Tufts University.

“We just told the guys exactly what we think and we just need to play better,” Brown said of his halftime talk with the Panthers.

“I told them it is really difficult to become champions, but we made it look pretty easy in the second half.”

Brown’s crew indeed made it look easy, especially when Matt St. Amour sank a few long-range three-pointers that helped the Panthers grow a lead the Ephs would not erase.

Not only did St. Amour sink back-to-back treys early in the frame, but added a layup and another triple minutes later to make it 57-43 with 12:39 remaining.

“My teammates kept telling me to be aggressive, play your game and (that) they had faith in me,” St. Amour said of his second half performance.

“They found me at such good sports and I started to get a couple to go.”

Middlebury’s second half run also featured baskets from Nick Tarantino, Adisa Majors, Eric McCord and Jack Daly.

In addition to an impressive second half surge, the Panthers also held the Ephs scoreless for 5:59. Williams would net its first second half basket with 14:01 remaining when Daniel Aronowitz sank one of two freebies.

Aronowitz’s lone free throw did not spark a second half rally – Williams did pull within 12 points (62-50) with 9:32 remaining, but that would be the closest they would get.

Middlebury would push ahead for good with back-to-back layups from Majors and McCord, who combined for 20 points.

“I think the big key was the start of the second half (when) we got multiple stops and that really helped us get some separation,” said Brown.

The Panthers recorded just five steals in the second half, but netted 20 of 36 field goals, including 6 of 17 from beyond the arc. They concluded the contest with 34 points in the paint, 17 second-chance points and 14 points off turnovers.

Sunday’s win erased the memory of an early season setback, which saw Williams outscore Middlebury, 50-28, in the second half en route to an 89-65 win.

Middlebury has not lost since falling to Williams on the road – they will enter the NCAA Tournament on an 11-game winning streak.

Said St. Amour of the Panthers’ 11-game winning streak, “Toughness is the biggest (reason) … we know we didn’t play the way we wanted to after (falling to Williams last month) and we didn’t want it to happen again.

“Every day, whether it is a practice or a game, we just want to come in, work hard and that really is what it is … this group is really close.”

St. Amour concluded the contest with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and one block, while Jake Brown registered 20 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Williams’ Kyle Scadlock recorded a game-high 24 points, while also pulling down 11 rebounds. Aronowitz record 14 points, three caroms, one steal and one block.

The Ephs, who have now fallen to Middlebury twice in the NESCAC Championship, will have to wait and see if they earn an at-large bid to this year’s NCAA Division III Tournament.

The NCAA Division III men’s basketball selection show is scheduled for Monday, February 27 at 12:30 p.m. eastern.

Said Williams Coach Kevin App, “I want it for the guys … this group has done enough to compete in the national tournament, so I hope we get the opportunity.”