The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: The Final Four is SET!

March 12, 2023

By Riley Zayas

Here we are! The Final Four is set. After starting the tournament with 64 teams two weeks ago, just four are still standing. Yesterday’s Elite Eight matchups were all very competitive, though some ended up being decided by larger margins than I’d anticipated. It was a great second weekend overall, and Saturday’s national semifinal contests are set. As a reminder, this year the national championship game will be in Dallas, Texas, as part of a combined NCAA women’s basketball championship event, featuring the D1, D2, and D3 championship games all in one place. I will be there in person and can’t wait to see what two teams will emerge out of Saturday’s duels in Hartford, CT. Trinity (CT) is hosting those semifinal contests, and here are the game times, per the NCAA, which were announced this morning:

Christopher Newport vs. Rhode Island College, 5 pm EST

Smith vs. Transylvania, 7:30 pm EST

Now for a look at yesterday’s action…

Transylvania put on a showcase against NYU and absolutely controlled the game from start to finish, winning 67-43. It was not at all the game I expected we would see…I envisioned more of a contest decided in the final minute or on the last shot. But Transy was incredible, and if I’ve gained one major takeaway from this tournament it is that they are definitely as good as their 31-0 record shows. Very impressed by the performance tonight. The contest against Smith is going to be fun to watch!

3 starters scored at least 20 points for the Pioneers, with Kennedi Stacy leading the way with 23. Dasia Thornton had 22 points, 17 rebounds, in the win. Transy outrebounded NYU by +12, and it just didn’t seem like NYU had its rhythm in this one. For a stretch in the 2nd quarter, NYU kept putting up 3-pointer after 3-pointer, with very few actually going in. It contributed to a 21-9 run from Transy that gave the hosts a double-digit lead.

CNU and Tufts were locked in a competitive battle for much of the contest inside historic Cousens Gymnasium, but the top-ranked Captains pulled away late, clinching their long-awaited trip to the Final Four. That was an incredible tough quadrant to get through and the Captains handled it very well. 72-56 was the final score last night, as CNU closed the game on an 11-2, holding a double-digit lead for much of the final five minutes. 30-0 is the record CNU takes to Hartford for the Final Four…pretty impressive!

Gabbi San Diego came through big-time for CNU, putting 32 points on the board, making 12-of-13 from the free throw line and 9-of-16 from the field. Not to mention, she dished out six assists. And Sondra Fan added 18 points to go along with three steals. The Captains definitely have some playmakers.

Also noticed this number postgame when it came to points off turnovers: CNU, 22, Tufts, 5. That’s key.

Rhode Island College is the shocker of this year’s tournament. The Anchorwomen stunned Babson on Babson’s home court to become the first unranked team in a long time to advance to the Final Four. This is a team that had its struggles in the LEC Tournament, but has performed incredibly well in these “win-or-go home” situations.

Madison Medbury’s 3-pointer at the end of the first half left the game tied as the third began, but then Medbury and RIC began pulling away. They outscored Babson 20-11 in the third, and then 19-15 in the fourth, with the final score ending up at 60-47. Not the result I expected!

Babson was 0-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc, RIC had 20 points off turnovers, and a +4 rebounding margin to go along with that. Medbury had 20 points in the win and Izabelle Booth tallied an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.

The more I watch Smith, the more impressed I am with the Pioneers’ talent level and overall discipline on both ends of the floor. Up against Trinity (CT), a top-quality opponent in the minds of most, Smith outscored the Bantams 22-11 in the second quarter, and clinched a Final Four spot in a 63-46 victory. To do it on their home court was even cooler, as the Pioneers joined Transylvania as the two teams in this year’s tournament to book their tickets to Hartford on their home court. That’s a memory both the team and the fan base will have for a long time.

Smith did a nice job of taking away Trinity’s offensive weapons, as Emma Wax had 10 points and Reilly Campbell tallied 12 (both numbers below each player’s respective average). The Pioneers limited the Bantams to a shooting percentage of 30%, while converting on 45% of their own shots from the field and 41% from 3-point range. Morgan Morrison had yet another double-double for Smith (17 pts, 10 reb) and the Pioneers saw 23 points come off the bench.

All-Elite 8 Team (based on my personal opinion)

G-Gabbi San Diego, SR, CNU: 32 pts, 6 assists, 3 reb

G-Madison Medbury, SO, RIC: 20 pts, 7 reb, 7 assists

G-Callie O’Brien, SR, Tufts: 19 pts, 4 reb, 4 assists

F-Dasia Thornton, SR, Transylvania: 22 pts, 17 reb, 2 steals, 1 block

F-Morgan Morrison, SR, Smith: 17 pts, 10 reb

Thank you to everyone who has followed along throughout this tournament. And thank you to so many coaches for your kind words towards my coverage of D3 WBB. It truly means more than you know. Looking forward to Saturday’s games! I’ll check back in soon.