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.

NCAA D3 Basketball: Saturday’s Second Round Schedule

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

With the first day of the 2020 NCAA D-III Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments in the books, it is now time to turn our attention to the second round.

Here is today’s local schedule, which features 11 New England teams – seven women’s teams and four men’s squads.


NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Tournament

  • RPI at Tufts University, 6 p.m.
  • Middlebury College at Brockport, 6:30 p.m.
  • Nichols College vs. Christopher Newport, 6:30 p.m. (at Stevens Inst. of Technology)
  • Hobart at Springfield College, 7:30 p.m.

NCAA D-III Women’s Basketball Tournament

  • Williams College at Ithaca College, 5 p.m.
  • Cortland vs. Tufts University, 5 p.m. (at Western New England)
  • Endicott College vs. Christopher Newport, 5 p.m. (at the University of Scranton)
  • Eastern Connecticut at Messiah College, 6 p.m.
  • Rowan University at Amherst College, 6 p.m.
  • New York University at Bowdoin College, 7 p.m.
  • Smith College at SUNY New Paltz, 7 p.m.

Setting The Stage For The First Day of the NCAA D3 Women’s Basketball Tournament

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Mary Kate O’Day and the Framingham State women’s basketball team will make their NCAA Tournament debut on Friday against Amherst College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin/Framingham State Athletics)

By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

We’re just one day away from the start of the 2020 NCAA D-III Women’s Basketball Tournament, which means its time to highlight a few things you need to know about this year’s postseason while also sharing some predictions, too.

Which New England teams will be competing in this year’s NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Tournament? 

  • This year, there are 12 teams from our region that will begin their respective quests toward Columbus, Ohio tomorrow, including two teams that will be host sites for both the first and second rounds.
  • Here are the teams that will be representing New England in the 2020 NCAA D-III Tournament: Amherst CollegeFramingham StateEndicott CollegeBowdoin CollegeEmmanuel CollegeEastern ConnecticutSmith CollegeHusson UniversityNew England CollegeWilliams CollegeWestern New England, and Tufts University.

What are the first-round matchups, times and locations? 

Here is the schedule for tomorrow’s (Friday, March 6th) first-round schedule:

  • Tufts University vs. SUNY Poly, 5 p.m. (at Western New England)
  • Williams College vs. Albright College, 5 p.m. (at Ithaca College)
  • Eastern Connecticut vs. St. John Fisher, 5 p.m. (at Messiah College)
  • New York University vs. Emmanuel College, 5 p.m. (at Bowdoin College)
  • Smith College vs. DeSales University, 5:30 p.m. (at SUNY New Paltz)
  • SUNY Cortland at Western New England, 7 p.m.
  • New England College at Ithaca College, 7 p.m.
  • Brooklyn at Bowdoin College, 7 p.m.
  • Endicott College at University of Scranton, 7 p.m.
  • Framingham State at Amherst College, 7 p.m.
  • Husson University at SUNY New Paltz, 7:30 p.m.

Which teams could advance to Saturday’s (March 7th) second round? 

  • Amherst College: The Mammoths are the favorites in their pod as they should be able to top Framingham State tomorrow and then beat either Merchant Marine or Rowan University on Saturday. The Rams should provide some challenges for the Mammoths, so don’t expect Amherst to run away from Framingham State following the opening tip.
  • Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears could be the favorite on their side of the bracket – they should be able to beat Brooklyn, but could face some challenges against either Emmanuel or New York University. But I think the Polar Bear has what it takes to not just win two games this weekend, but perhaps advance to Ohio and possibly play Tufts in the national semifinals.
  • Smith College: The Pioneers enter the postseason with a great deal of momentum. They won three straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament games last week, including back-to-back contests against MIT and Springfield College. For the Pioneers to advance to the second round, they will need to slow down a Bulldogs squad that has won 14 consecutive contests. DeSales has four players on their roster that are averaging 10 points or more per contest so for Smith to prevail, they will need big games from Amelia Clairmont and Katelyn Pickunka.
  • Tufts University: The Jumbos are primed for a deep postseason run – they should be able to get past SUNY Poly, a team they beat earlier this season, and then either SUNY Cortland or Western New England on Saturday. The loss to Bowdoin in the 2020 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) can certainly be used as motivation for games this weekend, as well as future contests later this month.
  • Williams College: The Ephs should certainly be in the mix for a second-round contest on Saturday, but face a talented Lions squad that fell short of winning their respective conference tournament championship. For Williams to be successful, they will need to find ways to stop Albright’s Dejah Terrell, who is averaging 22.4 points and 3.1 blocks per game. Additionally, they will need to keep their eyes Gabby Boggs, who is averaging 9.4 points and 9.4 rebounds. Williams will need a big game from Maggie Meehan, who enters the postseason clash averaging 13.7 points.

What first-round match-up will I be watching? 

  • SUNY Cortland vs. Western New England: The Golden Bears have not played a game since last month. But one can bet they have been preparing for Friday’ match-up with a Red Dragons squad that is 7-5 on the road this season. SUNY Cortland is making its first tournament appearance since 2010 and will be led by Beth Bonin, who is averaging 18.2 points per game. Western New England should be able to counter with their senior trio of Emily FarrellCourtney Carlson, and Meghan Orbann.

First-Round Predictions! 

  • Tufts over SUNY Poly
  • Western New England over SUNY Cortland
  • Albright College over Williams College
  • Ithaca College over New England College
  • SUNY New Paltz over Husson University
  • Smith College over DeSales University
  • St. John Fisher over Eastern Connecticut
  • Bowdoin College over Brooklyn
  • Emmanuel College over New York University
  • Scranton over Endicott College
  • Amherst College over Framingham State

 

D3 Basketball: The 2020 First-Round NCAA Tournament Pairings

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

The road to the NCAA D-III Championship is finally upon us, which means its time to highlight the local teams that will be competing this Friday, March 6th in the opening round of the men and women’s basketball tournaments.

NCAA D-III Men’s Basketball Tournament: First Round Pairings  

  • Babson College vs. Ithaca College (at Swarthmore College)
  • Middlebury College vs. Westfield State (at The College of Brockport)
  • Coast Guard Academy at The College of Brockport
  • RPI vs. New England College (at Tufts University)
  • Western Connecticut at Tufts University 
  • WPI vs. Yeshiva (at Johns Hopkins)
  • Hobart vs. St. Joseph’s (Conn.) (at Springfield College)
  • SUNY Canton at Springfield College 
  • Colby College vs. Christopher Newport (at Stevens Institute of Technology)
  • Nichols College at Stevens Institue of Technology 

NCAA D-III Women’s Basketball Tournament: First Round Pairings 

  • Tufts University vs. SUNY Poly (at Western New England)
  • SUNY Cortland at Western New England 
  • Albright College vs. Williams College (at Ithaca College)
  • New England College at Ithaca College
  • DeSales University vs. Smith College (at SUNY New Paltz)
  • Husson University at SUNY New Paltz 
  • Eastern Connecticut vs. St. John Fisher (at Messiah College)
  • Emmanuel College vs. New York University (at Bowdoin College)
  • Bowdoin College vs. Brooklyn College 
  • Framingham State at Amherst College 
  • Endicott College at The University of Scranton