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

BigFour_thumb

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.

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

MidWeekD3NotebookHoops

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.

D3 Football: The Final Noontime Top 20 Poll (Nov. 25th, 2019)

NSFINALTOP20POLL

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

It’s time to unveil our final New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll of the 2019 season.

The 2019 season was an exciting one, filled with some new storylines, along with some teams that will certainly be on our radar next fall.

Thanks for a great season and enjoy our final poll (and breakdown, too).


1. Western New England (9-2, 7-0 CCC): The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) champions may have fallen short to The College of Brockport last Saturday in the NCAA Tournament, but did not lose to a single game to a D-III squad this season.

2. WPI (10-1, 6-1 NEWMAC): The Engineers of Worcester were impressive in all three phases this year, but will certainly miss their senior class next fall.

3. Endicott College (9-2, 6-1 CCC): Despite falling short to the Golden Bears a few weeks ago, these Gulls proved they can compete with some of the best teams, both in and outside the region. Endicott finished its season with nine wins for the first time since 2012.

4. Middlebury College (9-0, 9-0 NESCAC): These Panthers found ways to win some hard-fought (and dramatic) games this fall and will certainly be on our radar going forward.

5. Framingham State (8-3, 8-0 MASCAC): After starting their season with back-to-back losses, Framingham State ripped off eight-straight wins to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

6. MIT (7-3, 6-1 NEWMAC): The Engineers’ improbable run to the postseason was impressive with some hard-fought (and important) wins over Coast Guard AcademySpringfield College, and WPI.

7. Springfield College (6-4, 5-2 NEWMAC): Losing to MIT was not an ideal way to end a season. Springfield overcame a 1-3 start to position themselves for a potential national playoff run, thanks to some key wins down the stretch.

8. Wesleyan University (8-1, 8-1 NESCAC): The Cardinals were one of the biggest surprises this season. Despite a lopsided loss to Middlebury a few weeks ago, Wesleyan proved they are (and will continue to be) one of the top teams in the conference going forward.

9. UMass Dartmouth (7-3, 5-3 MASCAC): The Corsairs enjoyed one of their best seasons, matching the 2004 squad with seven victories. UMass Dartmouth was impressive from the get-go and should certainly be in the mix for a conference crown in 2020.

10. Western Connecticut (8-3, 6-2 MASCAC): For the second-straight season, the Colonials ended their campaign with eight wins. Western Connecticut may have not been the juggernaut from last season (or past seasons), but should once again be in the mix for a conference title next season.

11. Williams College (7-2, 7-2 NESCAC): Despite losing a heartbreaking to Middlebury in their season-opener, Williams proved they are (and will continue to be) one of the top teams in the conference. The squad returns some impressive talent next season, which should help the Ephs contend for a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown.

12. Bridgewater State (6-4, 6-2 MASCAC): The Bears were tough to gauge this season, especially with so many seniors back from last year’s eight-win squad. BSU had a chance to win the conference and compete in the postseason, but saw their playoff hopes dashed with a week ten setback to the Rams of Framingham State.

13. Trinity College (5-4, 5-4 NESCAC): The Bantams’ four-peat never happened, but they did end their season winning three of their final five contests. It will be interesting to see how Trinity rebounds from a five-win season.

14. Nichols College (6-4, 4-3 CCC): The Bison won six games for the first time since 2003. They scored some exciting wins over Salve Regina and the University of New England and should be back in the mix for the conference crown next fall.

15. Amherst College (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): The Mammoths entered the 2019 season with hopes of winning a conference crown. Instead, they ended their campaign with four-straight setbacks, including a heartbreaking defeat to Hamilton College. Amherst won just four games in 2016 before rebounding with back-to-back winning seasons in 2017 and 2018.

16. Norwich University (5-5, 2-5 NEWMAC): The Cadets began their season with four-straight wins. And for a moment it appeared as if the Maroon and Gold would be the team to beat in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). But unfortunately, the team’s winning ways concluded over the next few weeks as the Cadets mustered just one victory in its final six contests.

17. Husson University (4-6, 4-3 CCC): The Eagles may have finished with four wins – all four victories came against conference opponents – but they looked pretty impressive against Nichols and Salve Regina.

18. Coast Guard Academy (5-5, 2-5 NEWMAC): Afer starting their season with a 4-1 mark, the Bears mustered just one win during their final five contests. The defense was impressive but struggled down the stretch against Merchant Marine and WPI.

19. Mass. Maritime Academy (6-4, 4-4 MASCAC): After a successful start to their 2019 campaign, the Buccaneers struggled to maintain their momentum by seesawing between the win and loss columns. The Bucs lost three of their final four contests but did score an impressive win on the road at UMass Dartmouth.

20. Salve Regina University (4-6, 3-4 CCC): The Seahawks may have finished with four wins this fall, but proved they are (and will continue to be) a team to watch every season in the CCC. They provided challenges for both Endicott and WNE before ending their season with wins over Curry College and UNE, which should provide the unit with some momentum heading into the 2020 season.

On The Rise: Dean College (4-6, 4-1 ECFC) and University of New England (4-6, 2-5 CCC). 

Saturday Round-Up: Second Half Surge Sends Brockport Past WNE

SATURDAY ROUNDUP

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Jala Coad scored two second-half touchdowns while converting a key fourth down late in the fourth quarter, which helped The College of Brockport hang onto defeat Western New England, 33-28, in the opening round of the NCAA D-III Football Tournament.

With the win, the Golden Eagles advance to next Saturday’s (Nov. 30th) second-round where they will face Muhlenberg College, which defeated MIT in its opening-round contest.

Coad concluded Saturday’s affair between the Golden Eagles and Golden Bears with a game-high 152 yards on 29 carries, while quarterback Freddy June completed 16 of 26 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns while adding 64 yards on 16 carries and one score. June’s lone rushing score came late in the fourth quarter following a fake handoff, which provided the visitors with a 33-21 advantage.

Western New England countered on its ensuing possession with a two-yard touchdown strike from Brendan Smith to Adam Razza to bring the hosts within five points (33-28).

Brockport would run out the clock on the ensuing possession and rely on Coad to extend the drive with a two-yard rush on a fourth down play that helped the visitors secure their ninth win of the season.

Western New England led Brockport, 14-12, at the break, thanks to a pair of touchdown passes from Smith to Steven Fedorchak.

The Golden Bears, who hosted their first postseason contest since 2016, conclude their 2019 campaign with a 9-2 record, including a 7-0 conference mark. WNE captured its third-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) crown this fall, thanks to late-season wins over Endicott College and Becker College.

Muhlenberg 38, MIT 0: Michael Hnatkowsky threw for three touchdowns, while Nick DeLucas and Mark Riggio each rushed for one score as the Mules of Muhlenberg defeated the Engineers of MIT in their opening-round contest. Will Exson paced the MIT defense with 10 total tackles.

Wesley College 58, Framingham State 21: The Wolverines jumped out to a 27-7 lead after one quarter and never looked back as Wesley rolled past the Rams of Framingham State in their opening-round contest. Drew Fry completed 24 of 28 passes for 345 yards and five touchdowns in the win, while Framingham State’s Elijah Nichols concluded the game with seven receptions for 133 yards and one touchdown. FSU quarterback Adam Wojenski completed 15 of 42 passes for 295 yards and one touchdown.

D3 Football: NCAA & New England Bowl Predictions

WNESOCIALNCAAUPDATE

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Happy Friday, everyone!

I hope you’re as excited as I am for the upcoming NCAA Tournament games tomorrow, along with two New England Bowls.

As usual, Friday’s mean one thing: games to watch and predictions. So, allow me to dish out my picks for the three NCAA Tournament games with New England teams, along with both New England Bowls.

Have a wonderful weekend, stay warm – it is going to be COLD tomorrow – and I’ll do my very best, as usual, to keep you all updated on social media!


NCAA Tournament Games | Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Brockport at Western New England (12 p.m.): This is a very evenly matched contest – it is even a game the Golden Bears could (and should) win. I’ll give the edge to WNE since they are playing at home, but they will need a big day from their offense, as well as a stellar performance by their run defense. PREDICTION: WNE 31, Brockport 28 

Framingham State at Wesley College (12 p.m.): The Rams have never won an NCAA Tournament game, so perhaps this is the contest Framingham State wins. FSU’s offense and defense have been rather impressive the past few weeks, especially against some talented conference foes, which should translate to a one-point (or two-point) victory on Saturday. PREDICTION: Framingham State 28, Wesley 27 

MIT at Muhlenberg College (12 p.m.): This is a tough draw for the Engineers, who are set to face the fourth-best team in the country, per the latest D3 Football Top 25. MIT has been impressive in their last three outings – they needed to win all three to advance to the postseason – but something tells me the Mules will make a few more plays from the get-go to secure an opening-round win. PREDICTION: Muhlenberg 30, MIT 10 


New England Bowl Games | Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Dean College at Endicott College (12 p.m.): This one is for the seniors. Look for a monstrous game from the seniors on both sides of the ball to send the Gulls into the offseason with some momentum for the 2020 season. PREDICTION: Endicott 35, Dean 16 

Western Connecticut at WPI (1 p.m.): After losing to the Engineers of Cambridge earlier this month, WPI has looked unstoppable, winning back-to-back games against Coast Guard Academy and Norwich University by a combined score of 124-35. Look for the Engineers to continue their recent momentum against the Colonials in Worcester. PREDICTION: WPI 38, Western Conn. 14