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.
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 College. Frank 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.
By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports & @Noontime_Hoops
Another exciting season of New England D3 basketball has concluded, which means it is time to unveil our end of the year All-Noontime Teams, along with our Coach, Rookie, and Player of the Year, too.
This year’s All-Noontime Team was assembled by our Noontime Basketball committee, which is made up of coaches, media members, and athletic communication directors.
As always, make sure to stay connected with our Noontime Sports basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops.
Nichols College’s Scott Faucher was named our Noontime Sports Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year after guiding the Bison to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Sectional Finals earlier this month. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brian Foley/Nichols College Athletics)
Coach of the Year: Scott Faucher (Nichols College): In his first season with the Bison, Faucher guided Nichols to a 28-3 mark, as well as the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Division III sectional finals. Additionally, the first-year coach also led Nichols to its third-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) title with a 105-90 victory over Gordon College last month.
Marcos Echevarria capped an impressive four-year career with the Nichols College men’s basketball team by becoming the 16th all-time scorer in Division III history. (PHOTO COURTESY: Mark Seliger)
Player of the Year: Marcos Echevarria (Nichols College): The Lynn, Massachusetts native concluded an impressive four-year career with the Bison by becoming the 16th all-time scorer in Division III history with 2,519 points and third in three-pointers with 479. A three-time Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) first-teamer, Echevarria guided the Bison to the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA sectional finals this month after leading Nichols to postseason victories against Middlebury College, Rowan College, and Amherst College. Echevarria ended the 2018-19 season averaging 20.3 points per game to go along with 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals. He was recently named to the D3Hoops.com All-America Second Team.
Emerson College’s Zach Waterhouse became the first member of the men’s basketball program to be tabbed NEWMAC Rookie of the Year. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kate Foultz/Emerson College Athletics)
Rookie of the Year: Zach Waterhouse (Emerson College): Waterhouse enjoyed an impressive first season with the Lions, averaging 16.6 points per game to go along with 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists. He canned 74.5 percent of his free throws while canning 68 trifectas in 28 contests. Waterhouse became the first Emerson men’s basketball player to be named New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Rookie of the Year last month.
Babson’s Jacqueline Jozefick netted the go-ahead layup on Saturday to lift the Beavers to a dramatic overtime second round win. (PHOTO CREDIT: Babson College Athletics)
By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)
The third round – or as some call it, ‘the sweet 16’ – is set to begin tomorrow as 32 NCAA Division III basketball teams (16 men’s and 16 women’s), including 10 New England squads, continue their quest toward the ultimate prize, a national championship.
At Babson College, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be in action tomorrow – it is the first-time in school history that both teams will be competing in the ‘sweet 16’ in the same season.
“It’s been a great environment, everybody has been rallying around the two teams,” said Babson women’s basketball coach Judy Blinstrub. “It is really a great atmosphere on campus right now.”
Added Babson men’s basketball coach Stephen Brennan, “I think there is a lot of good energy on campus. We’re really excited for the women’s team for winning the NEWMAC Championship, they have had such a good season.”
Last weekend, Blinstrub’s squad earned a pair of impressive wins, including a dramatic overtime victory over host FDU-Florham, which saw first-year Jacqueline Jozefick net the game-winning lay-up with five seconds remaining in the extra session.
The win over FDU-Florham earned the Beavers a date with Amherst College, which secured back-to-back wins last weekend over Mary Washington and Regis College.
Both Babson and Amherst competed against each other earlier this season with the Purple & White claiming a 67-62 victory.
“It was a great weekend for us,” said Blinstrub of her team’s first-and-second round wins. “I am just so happy for the team … this is a great situation to be in, playing in (the ‘sweet 16’) and I think they’ll rise to the occasion.”
As for Brennan’s unit, they earned two hard-fought wins last weekend, beginning with a 92-76 win over Husson University followed by a 72-65 victory against Skidmore College.
Against the Thoroughbreds, Babson senior Joey Flannery recorded a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds, while sinking the game’s final three free throws.
“I thought that down the stretch our defense, talk and toughness helped us overcome a slow start to the second half,” Brennan said of his team’s seven-point win over Skidmore.
Similar to the women’s team, the men’s team will meet a familiar foe on Friday, as Babson will welcome Tufts University to Babson Park with tip-off scheduled for 8:00 p.m.
Tufts’ Vince Pace and the Jumbos will face Babson for the second time this season on Friday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Tufts University Athletics)
The Jumbos, who earned a second meeting with the Beavers this season, scored a pair of first and second round wins last weekend, defeating Salem State University, 84-81, before knocking off host St. John Fisher, thanks to a game-high 37 points from junior Vincent Pace.
“We have a lot of familiarity (with the Jumbos),” said Brennan, “but it still comes down to how you’re going to play on Friday.”
A win for the Beavers would send them to the sectional finals – it would be the program’s second appearance in three seasons. They would face the winner of Christopher Newport-Keene State, which will play the first game at 5:00 p.m. – both sectional semifinals will take place at Babson.
Keene State, which earned a trip to the ‘big dance’ for the third consecutive season, claimed a pair of big wins last weekend, defeating Amherst, 69-66, before edging Ramapo, 92-91, in overtime. First-year Jake Collagan’s go-ahead triple with 48 seconds remaining in the additional frame helped the Owls secure the win.
Last season, Christopher Newport defeated Keene State in the ‘round of 16,’ thanks to team-high 22 points from current junior Marcus Carter. The Captains would win their following contest – an ‘elite eight’ victory over Wooster before concluding their season in the semifinals to the eventual champions, the University of St. Thomas.
In addition to a pair of men’s basketball games at Babson, Middlebury College will host a sectional semifinal against Endicott College – both teams met earlier this season with the Gulls claiming a 93-89 victory in Vermont. Williams College and Susquehanna University will also compete in Vermont – the winners of both games will square-off on Saturday in the sectional finals.
Middlebury, which captured its second-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship two weeks ago, scored a pair of back-to-back wins last weekend, defeating Farmingdale State (84-75) and Lycoming (95-76). Both wins occurred in Vermont.
The Gulls, who earned an at-large bid to this year’s tournament, made history last weekend, knocking off both Salisbury University and Nichols College en route to the program’s initial ‘sweet 16’ appearance. Endicott senior Max Motroni led the Green and Blue with a game and season-high 34 points as the Gulls defeated the Bison, 111-75.
“We are just thrilled to still be playing and having another week together,” said Endicott men’s basketball coach Kevin Bettencourt.
Senior leadership has helped Endicott enjoy an exciting NCAA Tournament run. (PHOTO CREDIT: Endicott College Athletics)
A big reason Endicott has enjoyed an exciting tournament run thus far is because of the squad’s senior class – six student-athletes, to be exact. They were all sophomores when Bettencourt arrived on campus in August 2014, and have helped the Gulls take a step forward each season toward the program’s ultimate goal of a national championship.
“Our seniors just love playing basketball together,” said Bettencourt, “so it was really special to see it all come together as a whole last weekend.”
In addition to the seniors, a few New England coaches, including Nichols men’s basketball coach Tom Glynn, credit Endicott’s success to Bettencourt – they certainly know the impact he has made on the program.
“Kevin has elevated the program at Endicott and our league to new levels with his accomplishments since taking over the program in 2014,” said Glynn. “I have so much respect for him as a coach, and his teams are always difficult to prepare for, and his players represent his program with class, which is a testament to his leadership.”
Added Salem State coach Chris Harvey, “His teams play hard, are fundamentally sound and truly play for each other. Kevin is a great teacher of the game and allows his players to use their creativity as well, too.”
Switching to the women’s tournament, Tufts will look to continue their march toward a spot in next weekend’s semifinals when they face the University of Scranton on Friday with tip-off scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The contest between Tufts and Scranton will take place at Washington University.
Last season, the Jumbos defeated the Royals in the sectional finals, thanks to senior Michela North (13 points and 10 rebounds) and junior Melissa Baptista (23 points). Both players combined for 19 points and 20 rebounds in their second round clash last weekend with Husson as Tufts scored a 64-44 win in Medford.
Said North, “We had a battle against (Scranton) last year, so I’m really excited to play them again.”
A win for the Jumbos would set-up a sectional final against either host Washington University or Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Finally, one should not overlook the UMass Dartmouth women’s basketball team, which also made history last weekend, defeating La Roche and Montclair State to earn a trip to this weekend’s third round in Amherst.
Matt Ducharme’s Corsairs, who earned an at-large bid to this year’s tournament, scored a pair of exciting wins, defeating La Roche and host Montclair State. UMass Dartmouth collaborated for 71 points in each game.
“It was a surreal moment at the time when we won our second round contest,” said Ducharme. “I just remember saying, ‘wow,’ and I don’t want this to stop.”
UMass Dartmouth earned an impressive second round win to advance to this weekend’s third round against SUNY New Paltz. (PHOTO CREDIT: UMass Dartmouth Athletics)
That euphoric feeling – or not wanting this exciting run to conclude – will be put to the test tomorrow when the Corsairs attempt to take another step forward toward next weekend’s semifinals.
Standing in their way: SUNY New Paltz, which captured back-to-back contests last weekend against Bowdoin College and Ithaca College.
Similar to the Corsairs, this will be the Hawks’ first-ever appearance in the ‘round of 16.’
A win for the Corsairs – or the Hawks – would set-up an exciting sectional final against either host Amherst or Babson. UMass Dartmouth played Babson earlier this season, defeating the Beavers, 70-62.
In their first round contest against La Roche, UMass Dartmouth struggled in the opening quarter – they trailed, 23-12. Yet, once the so-called ‘nerves’ disappeared, the Corsairs found their groove en route to an exciting 71-64 win.
The following evening against Montclair State, UMass Dartmouth raced out to a 10-point lead (23-13) – the game featured four lead changes and three ties – and kept the momentum heading into the final session.
Although, once Montclair State pulled within two-points (51-49) early in the fourth quarter, Ducharme called a timeout – he and the squad hoped the short breather would halt the Red Hawks’ comeback.
And it certainly did.
UMass Dartmouth responded with a 9-5 spurt, which helped the Corsairs eventually pull away and claim a 71-63 victory.
Said Ducharme of his team’s fourth quarter timeout, “I remember saying that no team is going to give you a shot at the ‘sweet 16,’ so if you want this game, then you have to take it and finish it … I was so proud of the way our team contained (Montclair State’s) runs down the stretch, too.”
Once the final horn sounded, UMass Dartmouth celebrated the exciting victory – again, no Corsairs squad has reached the ‘sweet 16’ in program history, so Ducharme, along with his players and assistant coach Jess Shiel know this run has been very exciting, but the focus must remain on their next opponent.
“There is no easy games at this point of the season and there is no looking to tomorrow,” said Shiel, “so you have to keep the focus on the next game.”
LYNN, Mass. – Salem State University’s Richard Fecteau highlighted an exciting Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBl) All-Star Game on Tuesday evening at Frasier Field, driving home Stonehill College’s Brian Campbell for the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning that lifted the Eastern All-Stars over the Western All-Stars, 4-3.
With the score tied, 3-3, heading into the final half frame, Campbell, who pinched-hit for University of Hartford sophomore Erik Ostberg, reached first base after slicing a pitch by University of Maine pitcher Charlie Butler down the leftfield line. Campbell advanced to second base during his team’s next at-bat before reaching third following a fly-out to right field by Williams College junior Jack Roberts.
Campbell would cross home plate during his team’s next at-bat as Fecteau connected on a 3-2 pitch down the right field line that initiated an enormous celebration by the Eastern All-Stars.
“When I got down 0-2, I figured – I just looked straight for fastballs and adjusted (for pitches that were) off-speed. (Butler) threw a couple fastballs that were tough in spots and I tried to get a piece of them and hopefully hang in there,” Fecteau said of his final at-bat. “(His) final pitch was a curveball, so I just tried to sit back and get something – get a good piece on it.”
Fecteau, who competes for the North Shore Navigators in the FCBL, concluded the All-Star Game with trio of at-bats, but just one hit and one RBI.
“(When Jack Roberts) moved (Campbell) over to third base, I was like ‘alright, here’s my shot. I guess I have to take advantage of it’ and I went out and tried to do as best (as I could during my final at-bat),” said Fecteau.
The East and West teams swapped leads throughout the opening innings before St. Thomas Aquinas junior Brandon Fischer pushed the hosts (Eastern All-Stars) ahead, 3-2, in the bottom of the fifth after racing home from third base during an infield ground-out by University of Maine junior Tyler Schwanz.
In the top of the sixth, St. Mary’s senior Davis Strong evened the score with a solo home run to left field, but that would be the West’s final run of the evening.
Three innings later, Fecteau secured the win, providing the East with its first win since the league switched from New England vs. Massachusetts last season. The West captured the initial East-West battle last year with a 4-1 victory.
Every Friday, we’ll unveil 10 games to watch in the college hockey world in Massachusetts. And to kick off this weekly column, here is this weekend’s menu, which features some intriguing matchups.
Men’s Ice Hockey:
* Boston College at Boston University (Friday/Saturday) – Eagles head coach Jerry York is a humble man. And even though he’s deflected questions about setting the NCAA record for wins, you know he’d like to earn wins 924 and 925 against rival Boston University. BC has won 10 consecutive games and is the No. 1 team in the country. Prediction: Eagles sweep the weekend series and provide York with his 925th win.
* UMass at Northeastern (Friday/Saturday) – The Huskies desperately need wins, but so do the Minutemen. Expect both contests to come down to defense and goaltending. Prediction: UMass is 2-0 against Boston College this season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they pick up their first two wins against Northeastern.
* Nichols College at Suffolk University (Saturday) – Despite earning a third place finish in the Worcester City Shootout Tournament, Kevin Swallow’s crew was able to rebound with an important ECAC Northeast conference victory against Wentworth on Thursday. Prediction: The Bison extend their current winning streak to three-games and hand the Rams a 5-2 setback.
* Amherst College at Wesleyan University (Friday) – The Lord Jeffs are one of the best teams in Division III. However, one can’t overlook an opponent, which is why this particular tilt could be interesting. The Cardinals outscored their last two opponents, 15-2, so expect their offense to continue their success later today. Prediction: Amherst’s goaltending should hold up in this one, so pick the men sporting the purple and white to beat the squad that has red on their sweaters.
* Westfield State at Salem State (Saturday) – Losses to Amherst and UMass Dartmouth can easily be forgotten if Westfield State can pick u a conference road win on Saturday in Salem. Prediction: Even though it isn’t Halloween, Owls can still fly around Salem at night, right? Go Blue and White!
Women’s Ice Hockey:
* Maine at Boston College (Friday/Saturday) – The Eagles are flying high these days and have won four of their last five games. They’re coming off wins against Quinnipiac and Yale in the Nutmeg Classic Tournament and could certainly use a few more victories to keep pace with Providence. Prediction: Similar to the men’s ice hockey team, expect the Eagles to have no problem against the last place Bears.
* Boston University vs. Providence College (Friday/Saturday) – The Friars haven’t recorded a win since Nov. 10 against Connecticut. Boston University, though, has won three of their last four. The Terries demolished the Friars a few weeks ago, and could do that again this weekend. Prediction: I’m picking the Terriers to sweep their weekend series.
* Dartmouth at Harvard (Fri. Nov. 30)/ Russia at Harvard (Sat. Dec. 1) – Behind some superb defensive play, the Crimson have gotten off to a fast start in the ECAC. Their 7-1 record doesn’t seem like a fluke, but this weekend they’ll have two intriguing matchups against the Big Green and Russia’s Women’s National Team. Prediction: I think the Crimson shouldn’t have too many problems skating past Dartmouth, but the game against Russia certainly could be a challenge. Do you believe in miracles in Cambridge?
* Norwich University at Holy Cross (Sunday) – This is probably one of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend, and it will be played on a sheet of ice in Worcester. The Cadets are one of the top teams in the nation, but the Crusaders aren’t too bad either. Holy Cross is riding a two-game winning streak and will look to extend it with victories against St. Michael’s on Saturday and Norwich on Sunday. Prediction: Upset special anyone? I’ll take the Crusaders in this one.
* Wesleyan University at Amherst College (Friday/Saturday) – Despite dropping three consecutive contests to Elmira, Hamilton and Plattsburgh, the Lord Jeffs can secure their spot in this week’s D3Hockey.com rankings with victories against NESCAC foe Wesleyan. The Cardinals are 2-2 and coming off a tough loss to Holy Cross. Prediction: Could this be an upset waiting to happen? Both squads will see each other twice, and I think they split the series.