Revisiting Some Exciting Moments From The NCAA D-III Basketball Tournament

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Today would have been the sectional finals for eight NCAA D-III women’s basketball teams. It would have also been a day of third-round men’s basketball action with eight teams vying for spots in next weekend’s quarterfinals.

Sure, we don’t know who would have extended their respective season an additional day or week, but the opening weekend of the 2020 NCAA D-III Basketball Tournaments did produce some exciting outcomes and finishes, as well as some dramatic moments, which I have highlighted below. 

Here are a few moments that I will remember from the opening weekend of both NCAA Tournaments, enjoy!

Tufts’ epic comeback against Western Connecticut. Trailing the Colonials by 21 points at the break, Tufts leaned on Luke Rogers and Carson Cohen to lead the Jumbos past Western Connecticut in an exciting opening round contest last Friday, March 6th in Medford, Massachusetts.

Rogers led the Jumbos with a double-double of 16 rebounds and 15 points while Cohen chipped in 14 points, including two three-pointers.

The win prompted an enormous celebration, which would continue the following day when Tufts beat RPI, 75-66, to secure a date with the College of Brockport in the third round.

Smith College advances to its first-ever “Sweet 16.” The Pioneers entered the postseason with some serious momentum – they scored three-straight wins in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament and had not lost a game since early February. That momentum carried the Pioneers to not just one, but two postseason wins last weekend over No. 20 DeSales (81-72) and SUNY New Paltz (62-60).

Their win over SUNY New Paltz was highlighted by a late 10-0 run during the final minutes of the fourth quarter, which was capped by a go-ahead and eventual game-winning basket by Amelia Clairmont.

Jim Calhoun makes his initial NCAA D-III Tournament debut. After leading the University of Saint Joseph’s (Conn.) to its initial Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) title in just its second season as a varsity program, coach Jim Calhoun earned his first trip to the NCAA D-III Tournament. But unfortunately, the Blue Jays’ appearance in the tournament didn’t last long as Hobart defeated the Blue and Gold, 78-74, in the opening round.

The setback to the Statesmen concluded an impressive second season by the Blue Jays, which was highlighted by a 25-game winning streak that stretched from late November to early March. Additionally, the 2019-20 season included an impressive milestone for Calhoun, his 900th win in January.

Eastern Connecticut’s defense highlighted its opening-round win. It was the Warriors’ defense that helped Eastern Connecticut top St. John Fisher, 60-43, in the opening round and score its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2015.

St. John Fisher was limited to 13 points or less in each frame, including seven points in the second quarter.

The 43 points were the lowest total Eastern Connecticut had surrendered “in 18 years of NCAA Division III competition.”

Williams College returns to its first NCAA D-III “Sweet 16” in seven years. The Ephs were a team to watch this season – they won 20 of 28 contests and came within a few baskets of advancing to the 2020 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship last month. But despite losing in the NESCAC semifinals to Tufts University, the Ephs were able to bounce back as an at-large bid to this year’s “big dance” and win back-to-back contests against Albright College and Ithaca College.

Williams trailed Ithaca, 16-14, after opening quarter before outscoring the hosts in the final three sessions to secure a 69-61 win, along with a spot in the NCAA D-III “Sweet 16” for the first time in seven seasons. Maggie Meehan led the Ephs with 18 points on 7 of 17 shooting while Mikaela Topper added 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Clairmont’s Late Bucket Sends Smith Past SUNY New Paltz

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Amelia Clairmont’s game-winning basket sent Smith College past SUNY New Paltz in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament. (PHOTO COURTESY: Smith College Athletics

By NoontimeSports.com 

Amelia Clairmont‘s go-ahead jumper with two seconds remaining capped an impressive 10-0 run for Smith College, which hung onto beat SUNY New Paltz, 62-60, in the second round of the NCAA D-III Women’s Basketball Tournament.

With the win, the Pioneers earned their first trip to the NCAA “Sweet 16” next Friday, March 13th against Messiah College, which beat Eastern Connecticut, 60-50, in its second-round contest earlier this evening.

Smith and New Paltz entered the final frame tied at 47-47 before the Hawks pushed ahead with a 13-5 run that was capped by a Maddie Gillis three-pointer with 3:02 remaining.

The Pioneers halted the spurt with a three-pointer by Jessie Ruffner which ignited a 10-0 run by the visitors that included baskets by Clairmont and Morgan Morrison. Morrison’s jumper with 1:05 remaining tied the game at 60-60 – New Paltz tried to counter on the ensuing possession with Gillis, who missed a jumper in the paint. Smith grabbed the rebound, called timeout and drew up a play for Clairmont to score the game-winning basket in the paint. 

Clairmont concluded Saturday’s contest with a team-high 20 points on 6 of 13 shooting to go with three rebounds and one assist while Katelyn Pickunka added 10 points and seven rebounds.

Prior to tonight’s win over the Hawks, Smith beat DeSales University yesterday in the opening day of the NCAA D-III Tournament.

D3 Hoops: Noontime Sports Women’s Basketball Top 10 (Tuesday, Feb. 20th)

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By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports)

With another week of New England Division III women’s basketball in the books, it is time to unveil this week’s Noontime Sports Top 10 Poll for Tuesday, February 20th, 2018!

This week’s poll – similar to the past 10 polls this season – is produced by the Noontime Sports College Basketball committee, which is made-up of athletic communication directors, coaches and media members here in New England.

Women’s Basketball Top 10 | Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

1. Amherst College

25-0 | NESCAC

Last Week: No. 1

2. Bowdoin College

24-1 | NESCAC

Last Week No. 2

3. Tufts University

22-3 | NESCAC

Last Week: No. 3

4. UMass Dartmouth

22-3 | LEC

Last Week: No. 4

5. Saint Joseph’s (Maine)

24-1 | GNAC

Last Week: No. 6

6. Smith College 

20-5 | NEWMAC

Last Week: No. 7

7. Univ. of New Eng. 

20-5 | CCC

Last Week: No. 8

8. Roger Williams 

21-4 | CCC

Last Week: No. 5

9. Wesleyan University 

17-7 | NESCAC

Last Week: NR

10. WPI 

20-5 | MEWMAC 

Last Week: 10

On The Rise: Babson College (17-8 | NEWMAC), Castleton University (21-4 |NAC), Emmanuel College (19-6 | GNAC), Middlebury College (17-8 | NESCAC), Springfield College (18-7 | NEWMAC) and UMass Boston (22-3 | LEC)

D3 Hoops: Noontime Sports Women’s Basketball Top 10 (Monday, Feb. 12th)

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By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports)

With another week of New England Division III women’s basketball in the books, it is time to unveil this week’s Noontime Sports Top 10 Poll for Monday, February 12th, 2018!

This week’s poll – similar to the past nine polls this season – is produced by the Noontime Sports College Basketball committee, which is made-up of athletic communication directors, coaches and media members here in New England.

Women’s Basketball Top 10 | Monday, February 12th, 2018

1. Amherst College

24-0, 10-0 NESCAC

Last Week: No. 1

2. Bowdoin College

23-1, 9-1 NESCAC

Last Week No. 2

3. Tufts University

21-3, 8-2 NESCAC

Last Week: No. 3

4. UMass Dartmouth

20-3, 12-0 LEC

Last Week: No. 4

5. Roger Williams

20-3, 14-2 CCC

Last Week: No. 5

6. St. Joseph’s (Maine)

22-1, 14-0 GNAC

Last Week: No. 6

7. Smith College 

18-5, 11-3 NEWMAC

Last Week: No. 7

8. Univ. of New England

18-5, 14-2 CCC

Last Week: 8

9. Middlebury College 

17-7, 6-4 NESCAC

Last Week: 10

10. WPI 

18-5, 11-3 NEWMAC

Last Week: NR

On The Rise: Babson College (16-8, 12-3 NEWMAC), Castleton University (19-4, 15-2 NAC), Conn. College (15-8, 4-6 NESCAC), Emmanuel College (17-6, 13-1 GNAC), Springfield College (17-7, 11-4 NEWMAC), UMass Boston (20-3, 10-2 LEC) and Wesleyan University (16-7, 5-5 NESCAC).

D3 Hoops: Noontime Sports Women’s Basketball Top 10 (Monday, Dec. 4th)

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By NoontimeSports.com

With another week of New England Division III women’s basketball in the books, it is time to unveil this week’s Noontime Sports Top 10 Poll for Monday, December 4th.

This week’s poll – similar to the past two polls – is produced by the Noontime Sports College Basketball committee, which is made-up of athletic communication directors, coaches and media members here in New England.

Women’s Basketball Top 10 | Monday, December 4th, 2017 

1. Tufts University

6-0, 0-0 NESCAC

Last Week: No. 1

2. Amherst College 

6-0, 0-0 NESCAC

Last Week: No. 2

3. Bowdoin College

7-0, 0-0 NESCAC

Last Week: No. 3

4. Connecticut College

5-1, 0-0 NESCAC

Last Week: No. 6

5. Middlebury College 

6-0, 0-0 NESCAC

Last Week: No. 7 

6. Univ. of New England

6-1, 2-0 CCC

Last Week: NR

7. Babson College 

4-1, 2-0 NEWMAC

Last Week: No. 10 

8. Roger Williams 

5-2, 1-1 CCC

Last Week: No. 5

9. Williams College 

5-2, 0-0 NESCAC

Last Week: No. 4

10. Smith College 

5-2, 1-1 NEWMAC

Last Week: NR 

ON THE RISE: Brandeis (4-2, 0-0 UAA), Castleton (6-0, 2-0 NAC), MIT (3-2, 2-0 NEWMAC), Springfield (4-2, 2-0 NEWMAC), St. Joseph’s (Maine) (6-1, 1-0 GNAC), Trinity College (6-0, 0-0 NESCAC), UMass Dartmouth (4-2, 1-0 LEC), Wesleyan University (5-1, 0-0 NESCAC), Westfield State (5-2, 0-0 MASCAC) and WPI (5-1, 1-1 NEWMAC)