New England Basketball Weekend Watch (Jan. 10th-12th)

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By Matt Noonan | @NoontimeNation 

Another busy weekend of New England D-III college basketball is set to tip-off this afternoon and evening – hope you are ready for some great games to watch and follow!

Let’s begin with one game to watch in Medford, Massachusetts this evening as the Tufts University women’s basketball team welcomes Wesleyan University to Cousens Gymnasium for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

Friday’s clash between the Cardinals and Jumbos marks the official start of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) play.

Tufts enters tonight’s contest riding an impressive 13-game winning streak, which has included recent wins over UMass DartmouthSUNYIT, and Wheaton College. Emily Briggs highlighted the Powder and Blue’s effort against the Lyons on Wednesday by connecting on 7 of 10 field goals for 19 points – she also made all three freebies. Erica DeCandido chipped in 13 points on six of eight shooting.

Wesleyan should certainly provide Tufts with some challenges on both ends of the court – the Cardinals have won eight of 11 contests thus far, including an early January clash with Babson College. The Cardinals began their 2019-20 campaign with six-straight wins.

In their last outing against SUNY Geneseo, last weekend, Caleigh Ryan and Katy O’Connor combined for 24 points, while Emma Roush added 10 points off the bench. 

A few other NESCAC women’s games to watch tonight and this weekend include Bowdoin College at Trinity College (1/10 at 7 p.m.), Amherst College at Middlebury College (1/10 at 7 p.m.), and Amherst at Williams College on Saturday, January 11th at 3 p.m.

On the men’s side of the NESCAC, keep an eye on Friday’s clash between Middlebury and Amherst. The Panthers have won 13-straight contests, including three consecutive 2020 meetings with Colby-SawyerSpringfield College, and Plattsburgh State. This particular outing should be a good test for the Panthers, but also the Mammoths, who began the new year with a 116-44 win over Lesley University before falling to Wesleyan three days later by a score of 79-77.

My prediction for Friday’s Amherst-Middlebury game is the following: The Mammoths will prevail and receive some major contributions from Grant Robinson, Fru Che, and Eric Sellew.

Tomorrow (Saturday, January 11th), WPI will entertain Babson in a very enticing New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) contest. The Engineers began conference play earlier this week against MIT, while the Beavers were edged on Wednesday by Springfield.

It’s too early to say this a must-win for the Beavers (or Engineers) as all eight teams play each other twice in a single-season, but this could be a potential preview of the conference championship game next month.

Other Games to Watch (and Follow) this Weekend: 

  • WBB: Framingham State at Westfield State (Saturday, Jan. 11th at 12 p.m.): The Rams can begin conference play with a win on the road against an Owls team, which has not won a game since beating Plymouth State in mid-to-late November.
  • WBB: Western New England at Wentworth Inst. of Technology (Saturday, Jan. 11th at 1 p.m.): Look for the Golden Bears to bounce back after losing to WPI earlier this week. A win over the Leopards would provide WNE with their fourth conference win and keep them within at least one or two games of the University of New England.
  • WBB: Brandeis University at New York University (Saturday, Jan. 11th at 1 p.m.): The Judges face another 10-1 squad in an important conference meeting. Brandeis has won 10 of 11 contests this season so I expect that momentum will help them against the Violets.
  • MBB: Keene State at Rhode Island College (Saturday, Jan. 11th at 3 p.m.): This is an important meeting for both teams as the Anchormen and Owls are in a three-way tie with Western Connecticut for the top spot in the conference. Look for the Anchormen to bounce back after losing to Western Connecticut earlier this week.

Noontime Rewind: Becoming A Blogger, Podcaster & Video Host

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By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

Before we kick-off, a brand new year (and decade) of blogging, editor and founder Matt Noonan shared some thoughts on the blog while also reflecting on how this platform provided him an opportunity to pursue his love of sports, content creation, and video and podcast production.

Noontime Sports launched in 2009 in a Wheaton College (Mass.) dorm room but has become a go-to for New England college and high school sports fan, along with our favorite die-hards of the Boston BruinsBoston CelticsBoston Red Sox, and New England Patriots. The site has covered multiple games and events over the past year (and decade), including contests at Gillette StadiumFenway Park, and the TD Garden.

In addition to game coverage, Noonan (and colleagues and friends) have produced a variety of features and podcasts – we even hosted a radio show, too – while creating some entertaining (and enjoyable) videos for our YouTube channel.

We’re excited for the upcoming year and next decade of blogging and podcasting, along with some video production, too, and hope you will enjoy Noonan’s reflection on what he has built.

Make sure to stay connected with Noontime Nation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while subscribing to our YouTube channel

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

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Wheaton College’s Mia Len is our Noontime Sports D-III Life Student Blogger. (PHOTO COURTESY: Wheaton College Athletics)

By Mia Len 

Welcome back to the second installment of The D-III Life for Noontime Sports (and Noontime Nation, too).

In honor of the first semester officially coming to a close, I thought I would tell you about one of my favorite classes I took this fall called Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship, which was taught by Professor Imran Chowdhury, who is the Diana Davis Spencer Chair of Social Entrepreneurship here at Wheaton College

Every week, my classmates and I were tasked with reading intriguing case studies, which we would analyze through written reports while sharing thoughts and findings from what we read through lively (and engaging) conversations in the classroom. These analyses we produced were instrumental in helping us with a pair of projects, including an enormous end of the semester presentation and report that I did with two of my classmates, including one of my women’s basketball teammates, Natalie Wind.

Our end of the semester project allowed both myself and project-mates an opportunity to converse with an enterprise beyond campus which is one of the many things I love about our business department here at Wheaton. Being able to have real-life conversations beyond the classroom was something I truly enjoyed.

Additionally, I loved being able to work on an assignment as a team – our project, like our women’s basketball team, took commitment and dedication to create the best analysis we could for our end of semester project, and I am so thankful my partners’ hard work and help.

We presented our findings for our project during the final week of school while enjoying other presentations from our classmates, too, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I really liked this type of project and class – I always came away learning something new, while having fun reading and analyzing the various case studies we were assigned on a weekly basis.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the academic part of my life – I can’t wait to write again soon and tell you more about the spring semester. 


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 D-III Life,’ which provides readers with a glimpse of what it takes to be a student-athlete in NCAA Division III. 

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. 

Catching Up With Laura Pierce (Fitchburg State Women’s Basketball)

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Laura Pierce, who competed and coached at Wheaton College, was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University. (PHOTO COURTESY: Fitchburg State Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Laura Pierce was ready for that next step in her coaching journey.

She had gained valuable experience at both Wesleyan University and Wheaton College as an assistant for both women’s basketball programs but appeared eager – and ready – to become a head coach.

And that eagerness – and readiness, too – paid off as she was recently named the new women’s basketball coach at Fitchburg State University.

“I am excited to get to work with the young women to create a culture in which our program makes Fitchburg State proud on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Pierce in the press release announcing her hiring.

Pierce inherits a Falcons squad that finished 9-17 a year ago, including 2-10 against Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) foes.

The Falcons did qualify for the MASCAC Tournament last winter but saw their bid for a conference crown conclude in the quarterfinals against Bridgewater State University.

Coaching in the MASCAC is something Pierce is very excited about – she described the conference as “really competitive,” while also noting that “you have to bring your best effort every (single) evening.”

Said Pierce, “My hope is that we enter the gym every day with the mindset of effort, focus, and attitude because it will help us be successful, both this upcoming season and in the future.”

Prior to becoming an assistant for both the Cardinals and Lyons, Pierce enjoyed an impressive career at Wheaton, tallying 622 points, 253 rebounds, 424 assists, and 68 steals in 100 games played. Pierce, who was a three-year captain, also attended “So You Want to be a Coach” Program at the Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida in April of 2015 before graduating from Wheaton one month later.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Pierce about her excitement for leading her own program, but also what she learned as both a student-athlete and assistant from Coach Melissa Hodgdon.

What excites you about coaching your own program?

Being able to teach the game I love while shaping these young women’s lives.

Coaching is about so much more than the X’s & O’s (on a chalkboard). It’s about building relationships and mentoring (your players) to become the best they can be, both on and off the court. I have had many coaches and mentors along the way that I have played for and coached with, and they have all have shaped me into the coach and person I am today.

I think the exciting thing about coaching your own program is having a vision and being able to shape that vision throughout the season. It’s all about the process and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s such an exciting time for the Fitchburg State women’s basketball program.

Do you feel your previous stops as an assistant at Wesleyan and Wheaton have prepared you for a successful first season with Fitchburg State?

Absolutely. Kate Mullen, who is the is the head coach of the Wesleyan women’s basketball team, took a chance on me – she hired me right after I graduated college (in May of 2015) and I will be forever grateful to her for providing me with my first collegiate coaching role.

Coach Mullen gave me the opportunity to coach and prepare to play against teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is one of the most competitive Division III women’s basketball conferences in the country. 

I am really fortunate that both Coach Mullen and Melissa Hodgdon gave me an opportunity to learn and grow as a young coach (these past few years). I consider them not just mentors, but great friends, as well.

Tell me about your experience learning and playing for Melissa Hodgdon. How did she help mold you into the current coach you are today? 

I honestly had never heard of Wheaton until Coach Hodgdon began recruiting me. But attending Wheaton and playing for her was the best decision I ever made.

Coach Hodgdon challenged me every day to become the best basketball player I could be so I could reach my highest potential on the court with hopes of leading the Lyons to a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship.

Her biggest impact though is she genuinely cares about each and every one of her players.

I missed my entire sophomore year with a knee injury, but that didn’t stop Coach Hodgdon from including me in team activities. She made sure I was included and kept me engaged throughout the entire season while allowing me to see the game from her perspective. And once my sophomore year concluded at Wheaton, I knew I wanted to become a collegiate basketball coach when I graduated, so I began gaining experience as an intern at the Duke University women’s basketball camp, along with several local camps, too, before I returned to campus for my senior year.

A few years after my final season with the Lyons, I returned to campus after completing my graduate assistantship program at Wesleyan – I knew (deep down that) I wanted to return to Wheaton and assist Coach Hodgdon, who established a program that meant so much to me, both as a student-athlete and assistant coach.

Being able to work (and learn) from Coach Hodgdon as an assistant was an amazing experience. She challenged me to become the best coach while giving me responsibilities that prepared me for my next step in my coaching journey.

Finally, what goals and objectives do you have for the team heading into the upcoming season?

We have a great group of young women returning this year as well as a couple of incoming first-year student-athletes that are excited to get to work. We’re going to focus on getting better every day, whether that be in the classroom, weight room, film room or on the court.

We are also going to have this mindset of getting better (every single day). But our number one goal is always going to be to represent the Fitchburg State community with class and pride.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops