D3 Basketball: Brandeis will attempt to win its second-straight New England Big 4 Challenge this weekend

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Brandeis University will attempt to capture its second-straight New England Big 4 Challenge championship this weekend. (PHOTO COURTESY: Babson College Athletics)

By Matt Noonan 

Brandeis University captured the 2018 New England Big 4 Challenge last season with a commanding 74-49 win over Babson College and will attempt to win the title again this weekend when they compete in the two-day, four-team tournament at Salem State University.

The Judges will begin their title defense against Tufts University on Saturday, December 7th at 12 p.m. Babson and Salem State will square-off afterward at 2 p.m. The winner of both contests will advance to Sunday’s championship game at 2 p.m. which will follow the consolation game at 12 p.m.

Brandeis will certainly be a team to watch this weekend after beginning their current campaign with a 5-2 mark, but the same could be said for the Beavers of Babson, which enter the weekend tournament with an impressive 7-0 record. The Green and White’s seventh win – an 87-82 victory over Amherst College earlier this week – was highlighted by Frank Oftring, who netted a career-high 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds. 

Tufts saw its five-game winning streak to start its 2019-20 campaign snapped earlier this week against WPI. The Jumbos scored some impressive non-conference wins prior to their initial setback last month against MIT and UMass Dartmouth.

Salem State will attempt to snap its current five-game losing streak this weekend when they face Babson in the opening round. The Vikings have not appeared in the win column since last month when they defeated Anna Maria College, 89-76.

The winner of the tournament will receive the Crotty Cup, which is named after Michael Crotty Sr., who was the Founder and Director of the Middlesex Magic.

“The tournament features four very good teams from four different leagues, to celebrate the game of basketball and a dear friend to each of us in Michael Crotty Sr., Founder, and Director of the Middlesex Magic AAU Club, who left us far too soon,” said Salem State coach Chris Harvey, via the tournament preview.

While Brandeis has won four New England Big 4 Challenges, Babson has won three – their last came during the 2016-17 season when they captured the program’s first-ever NCAA championship. Tufts has won two titles, while Salem State captured its first-ever tournament crown two years ago.

Around The Rim with Bob Whitney

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By Bob Whitney 

Some random thoughts after looking around at the local and national basketball landscape.

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)/Big Ten Conference (B1G) Basketball Challenge is always at the top of my viewing list each year – I love channel surfing.

This year, the Big 10 Conference reigned supreme with some impressive showings by Maryland, Purdue, Ohio State, and Penn State.

Purdue absolutely dismantled Virginia and exposed the ‘Hoos offensive shortcomings while Ohio State throttled North Carolina. It’s early but Ohio State is looking like they have the horsepower to make a run to the Final Four next April.

Speaking of the ACC, Boston College is on a four-game losing spin and facing a rigorous conference road trip this Saturday at Norte Dame. A highly-touted freshman class must grow up in a hurry or the Eagles will once again reside in the ACC’s bottom quartile.

Save the date: current No. 1 Louisville will visit Conte Forum on Jan. 29. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m.

Carl Pierre, who played high school basketball at Boston College High School, is having an excellent season at UMass. The 2017 Catholic Conference MVP and two-time conference all-star selection is currently averaging 12 points per game.

Pierre and the Minutemen will visit Harvard on Saturday, December 7th with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. UMass will attempt to snap a four-game skid, which began prior to Thanksgiving with a 58-46 setback to Virginia. Harvard enters the non-conference clash at 4-4 – the Crimson have lost two-straight since beating Texas A&M last Thursday. 

Newton North’s Ethan Wright has seen an uptick in playing time this season with the Princeton Tigers. The second-year guard has logged 93 minutes in six contests this season – he even started a game last month against Indiana. Wright has scored 13 points on 5 of 21 shooting, including 3 of 14 from beyond the arc. He has pulled down 13 rebounds, including two offensive caroms to go along with five assists and two blocks.

Wright and the Tigers sit at 1-6 and are scheduled to compete next Tuesday, December 10th against Monmouth. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Coach Trish Brown and the Stonehill College women’s basketball team are off to an impressive 6-2 start. Sure, their lone setbacks have come against Bentley and Molloy, but they have been fun to watch, especially in their last two contests against Assumption College and Franklin Pierce.

Emily Bramanti, who played locally for Westford Academy, credited all of her teammates in their most recent win against the Ravens for stepping-up and making plays when needed.

“That is just the greatness of our team is that any night anybody can step-up and play, so it’s really exciting to see how far we can get going,” she said following the Skyhawks’ 68-59 win over the Ravens.

Bramanti concluded her team’s eighth contest with a team-high 16 points.

Stonehill hosts Saint Anselm College on Saturday before heading to Daytona Beach Florida two weeks later to compete in the Daytona Beach Shootout.

Finally, the Babson College men’s basketball team scored an exciting and impressive win last night over Amherst CollegeFrank Oftring, who grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts netted a career-high 30 points in the win to go along with 10 rebounds.

Babson’s Andrew Jaworski finished with 23 points with four of those points being recorded during the final 30 seconds of the second half.

Babson, which is 12-3 against the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) dating back to the 2016-17 season, will look to continue its early-season momentum this weekend when they compete in the New England Big 4 Challenge at Salem State University.

I’m getting ready to head back to warm and sunny Florida so I’ll be writing from the Sunshine State next week.

KEEP SHOOTING, Everyone!

The D-III Life with Wheaton College’s Mia Len

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Wheaton College’s Mia Len is our student-athlete blogger for the D3 Life. (PHOTO COURTESY: Wheaton College Athletics)

By Mia Len 

Let me tell you about being an NCAA D-III student-athlete at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. 

The D-III life has been the most rewarding experience in my opinion. Sure, there are  ups and downs – more good days than bad, of course – but at the end of the day, I firmly believe my experience as a member of the Wheaton women’s basketball program will help me both in and outside the classroom, as well as beyond the Norton campus when I graduate in two years. 

I am excited to tell you about my experience this winter as a student-athlete blogger for Noontime Nation. And I hope each post I produce for the site will provide a glimpse (and some insight, too) into what my life (and experience) is like at Wheaton as both a student and an athlete.

Prior to our Thanksgiving break, I begin my day with two classes: economics and social entrepreneurship. Both classes, coincidentally, are with my teammates. I am a business major, so both of these classes are right up my alley. And one of my teammates and I are working on a project together that consists of interviewing a social enterprise. We have spent a lot of time on it and are excited to present it to our class during this particular week. 

After class, I head to my favorite spot on campus to eat lunch with my teammates in the student-center at the Diana Davis Spencer ’60 Café. This particular cafe features a variety of food choices and coffee (of course) and is where I spend a lot of time doing work, but also some socializing with friends. And on this particular day, the cafe is offering a flatbread and soup deal – it was delicious! 

The cafe is also the spot where I usually work on the graphics that I post on social media – I am both the social media coordinator for our women’s basketball team, but also the athletic department, too. I like to ask my teammates for their opinions on the graphics I produce before they are finalized and ready to be shared. 

On this specific day, though, we happen to have a game at the University of New Hampshire, so once I wrap up my work (and food) I head to our team’s pre-game meal where I can also do some work and get ready for our team’s sixth game of the 2019-20 season.  

Following our pre-game meal, my teammates and I head to the bus for a long ride to New Hampshire. But for some reason, traffic cooperated – crazy, right? – so we arrive two hours earlier than expected, which provides our team with some extra time for warmups. And before we know it, it’s game time.

New Hampshire wins this particular meeting, but the experience of competing against a D-I squad was awesome – I am sure it will help us moving forward, as well as when we begin conference play next month against Mount Holyoke College.

On our way back, I watched a movie with one of my teammates and before we knew it, we were back on campus ready to go to bed – it has been a long day. 

And thus concludes my first installment of the D3 Life for Noontime Nation – I hope you enjoyed learning more about my experience at Wheaton and I certainly cannot wait to tell you more in a future post, so stay tuned for our next installment. 

I love being a D-III student-athlete, especially at Wheaton. And while my days can be long and tiring with classes, practices, and extracurricular activities, I know deep down this experience – and the memories I am making with my teammates and classmates, too – are worth it.


Mia Len is a sophomore at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, as well as a member of the women’s basketball program. Len, who is a business major, is also our first student-blogger for ‘The D3 Life,’ which provides readers with a glimpse of what it takes to be a student-athlete in NCAA Division III. 

D3 Football: Maher, Johnston Secure Spots On AFCA Division III Coaches’ All-America Teams

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Framingham State’s Jacob Maher concluded his initial season with the Rams as an AFCA Division III Coaches’ All-America First Teamer. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin/Framingham State Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation

A pair of New England D-III Football student-athletes were recently named to the 2019 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America Teams.

Jacob Maher of Framingham State secured a spot on the first team, while Kyle Johnston of Massachusetts Maritime Academy earned a spot on the second team.

Maher wrapped up his first and final season of college football with the Rams this fall by catching a team-high 56 receptions for 819 yards and eight touchdowns. The senior tight end from Marshfield, Massachusetts averaged 5.1 receptions and 74.5 yards per contest. He caught a season-high three touchdowns in his team’s 39-33 win over UMass Dartmouth in October before hauling in two touchdowns in his team’s regular-season finale against Worcester State.

Prior to earning an end of season honor from the AFCA, Maher earned and All-Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) first-team honor and a spot on the New England Football Writers (NEFW) Division II/III team.

Johnston, who also appeared on the NEFW D-II/III team, enjoyed his best season with the Buccaneers by recording a career-best 57.0 total tackles, including 37 solo stops and 20 assists in 10 contests. The defensive lineman from Raynham, Massachusetts tallied career-highs in sacks (12.5), tackles for a loss (19.5), and forced fumbles (three) in 10 games this fall and was also named to the All-MASCAC first team. 

In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Johnston tallied 164.0 total tackles, including 121 solo stops to go along with 49.5 tackles for a loss and 25.5 sacks. He also recorded eight forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and seven pass breakups, including three last season.

New England D-III Hoops Notebook: Brandeis, Emmanuel Score Impressive Mid-Week Victories

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

For the first time since 2005, the Emmanuel College women’s basketball team scored a win over the top team in Division III as the Saints beat Amherst College last night by a score of 60-55.

The Saints, who beat Bowdoin College 14 years ago when they were the top team in D-III, were led by Yuleska Ramirez-Tejeda, who recorded a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds. The Cambridge, Massachusetts native connected on 10 of 20 shots from the field, while sinking five of eight freebies.

Emmanuel led Amherst, 23-19, at the break – they would outscore the Mammoths, 26-19, in the final session to secure their fourth win of the season.

The setback snapped an early three-game winning streak for the Mammoths, which scored early-season wins against Babson CollegeIthaca College, and New Jersey City. Amherst is scheduled to face Eastern Connecticut on Saturday before heading to Las Vegas, Nevada three weeks later to compete in the D3Hoops.com Classic.

Emmanuel, which has won four of seven contests thus far, visits MIT on Saturday before hosting Rhode Island College next Monday, December 9th. The win over the Mammoths should provide the Blue and Gold with some momentum heading into their next two contests before heading to Nevada, as well, to compete in two days of the D3Hoops Classic at the end of the month.

Keep your eyes on Ramirez-Tejeda over the next few weeks – the senior guard is averaging 20.7 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. Additionally, she is averaging 2.9 assists per game and sinking 64.4 percent of her free throws.

Brandeis University scored an exciting 99-88 overtime win last night against Babson, thanks to a pair of impressive performances by Hannah Nicholson (19 points and 16 rebounds) and Camila Casanueva (19 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists).

The Judges outscored the Beavers, 25-14, in the extra session – Brandeis utilized an 8-2 run to begin the overtime period, which provided them enough momentum to secure their fifth win of the season.

Brandeis has enjoyed a successful start to its 2019-20 campaign – they won their Tip-Off Tournament early last month with wins against Framingham State and Nichols College while scoring non-conference wins over Roger Williams and Salem State. The Judges’ lone setback came against Tufts University late last month – the Jumbos outscored Brandeis, 41-29, in the second half to secure an 81-77 win.

The Judges will visit Clark University and Johnson & Wales later this week before hosting Becker College next Monday.

Since falling to New England College last month, the WPI men’s basketball team has looked unstoppable as they have now won seven consecutive contests, including a 72-62 win on Tuesday against Tufts.

WPI’s Garrett Stephenson stuffed the stat sheet against the Jumbos with a game-high 21 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Colin McNamara contributed 13 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while Reid Walker added 10 points, three rebounds, and one assist.

The Engineers will attempt to stretch their winning streak to eight games on Saturday when they visit Albertus Magnus for a 5 p.m. tip-off.

WPI has scored some impressive regional victories thus far against Tufts, Salem StateFitchburg State, Eastern Connecticut, and Brandeis. After their visit to the Falcons, WPI will be off for the holidays before visiting Framingham State on Saturday, January 4th for its final non-conference clash.

As of this morning, the Engineers are the only New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) team that has won eight games thus far. Babson has won all six of its contests, while Springfield College has won five-straight.

Speaking of the Beavers, they host Amherst this evening with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. Babson has been a team to watch thus far, but Wednesday’s meeting with the Mammoths will certainly be a good test for the Green and White.

Following their non-conference clash with the Mammoths, Babson will compete in the New England Big 4 Challenge this weekend – their first game is against Salem State on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Big 4 Challenge is always a fun tournament to watch – the two day, the four-game tournament features Babson, Tufts, Brandeis, and Salem State.