November 26, 2023
By Riley Zayas
Hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving holiday and a great weekend so far! We had eight games on Friday, but returned to a full slate yesterday, which gave us plenty of intriguing matchups, particularly in the Midwest. Lots of tournament action taking place, which will continue into today, along with quite a few impactful results that will play a role the next Top 25, which will be released tomorrow night.
It’s hard to say one game stood above the rest yesterday afternoon, but if I had to choose one, it’d be #16 Hardin-Simmons beating #12 Trinity in overtime, 92-88. This game was played in Abilene (At HSU), and both teams were very evenly matched. It was what many (including myself) expected in a contest between the top two teams in Texas, who are both well-coached and play with a high basketball IQ.
Watching the matchup play out, it absolutely had the feel of an NCAA Tournament game, and if we’re being completely honest, there’s a good chance it’s a first or second round tournament game again this season. That’s what happens in Region 10.
When it comes to HSU, the experience on the roster is the first thing you notice. The Cowgirls’ starting five yesterday was composed of three 5th-year seniors (one of whom is a transfer) and two true seniors. That level of game experience is hard to find anywhere in the country, much less in a program that already went 18-0 in conference play last season. That showed up, especially in overtime, as HSU took control early, and ended up outscoring Trinity, 17-13.
Trinity put up a remarkable effort, however, through all four quarters and the overtime. HSU never gained much separation for longer than a 20 or 30 seconds at a time, and Trinity fought back from a six-point deficit at the half to tie the game at the end of regulation. Trinity is definitely a big-time second-half team this season, and no halftime lead is safe against the Tigers.
Trinity actually ended up with 12 more points in the paint (48), five more points off turnovers (33), and six more fast-break points (20). Just another reason why it such a competitive game. But HSU maximized its 3-point opportunities, converting on two more 3-pointers than Trinity (finished 11-of-31). That included a key 3 from Paris Kiser with 47 seconds left in OT, which gave HSU an 87-84 lead that was held by the Cowgirls for the remainder of the contest.
Other winners of the day…
In a tight battle in the Great Lakes region, Trine overpowered Ohio Northern down the stretch, with the Thunder outscoring the Polar Bears, 19-12, in the final quarter. That was the difference, as Trine added another quality win to its resume after defeating Baldwin Wallace early in the year. Trine is now 3-1, while ONU is a surprising, 1-2, to start the 2023-24 campaign. Trine won the day, and may have added a RRO win to its resume. Not a bad performance from a team that has shown inconsistencies as of late.
Emory and Washington & Lee gave us a thrilling battle in Virginia, with the Eagles of Emory pulling out an 86-78 win. Yet another situation where the winning team trailed entering the fourth quarter. In this case, 30 points from Emory over the final 10 minutes led to the victory, and a likely RRO victory at that. Emory belongs in the Top 15, no doubt about it.
New Jersey City took down a solid SUNY New Paltz team, 75-71, moving NJCU to 2-1 on the year. NJCU outscored New Paltz 25-19 in the fourth, having trailed by two points entering the final quarter. The Gotham Knights took advantage of New Paltz’s turnovers, a product of quality defense from NJCU, and scored 30 points off 25 turnovers. Defense won out in that one.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps deserves mention in this category of “Winners of the Day” because CMS won a game for the first time this season, and did it against a solid East Texas Baptist squad. But ETBU looked a bit out of sorts last night on the West Coast, and CMS attacked early. The Athenas led 19-8 after the first quarter, and ETBU, despite a couple of strong runs, never gained the lead at any point. CMS overcame a -15 rebounding deficit by holding ETBU to a shooting percentage of just 25 percent. It was a nailbiter, especially after ETBU cut the CMS lead to two with under a minute to go, but ETBU missed three straight shots while it was a one-possession game. Congratulations to CMS on finding a way to get that first victory of the year.
Wisconsin Lutheran punched its ticket to the championship game of the Pat Deacon Classic and a matchup with top-ranked Transylvania by getting past Alma, 63-54, in Lexington, Kentucky. Alma was coming off a win over Wittenberg and WLC’s last game was a win over Hope. As it turned out, we saw a competitive neutral-court contest before WLC pulled away in the fourth, just as the Warriors did against Hope. The margin widened to as many as 14 points with 2:59 left. WLC finished with an impressive 20 assists on 24 made shots.
I don’t know if Wartburg “won the day”, but the Knights managed to avoid the upset bid from UW-Eau Claire and stay undefeated, which certainly warrants mention. UWEC led 58-53 with under five minutes left before Wartburg answered with a 9-0 run. The defense intensified down the stretch, holding the Blugolds without a made field goal for the final 4:52. Credit to Wartburg for that defensive effort, and for the quality free throw shooting (19-of-23).
WashU looked really strong against DePauw, setting up a key matchup against Illinois Wesleyan in Terre Haute, Indiana today. The Bears opened the game with a 23-13 lead and never let up, scoring 42 points in the paint. They have the advantage in the post against IWU, and will need to maximize that. Shooting 50% from the field also contributed greatly to WashU improving to an even 2-2 on the year.
Taking a look at some of the top individual performances from yesterday’s action…UW-Whitewater’s Kacie Carollo did a little bit of everything for the Warhawks in the 64-55 win at Calvin, scoring 19 points to go along with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals…Emory was led by Claire Brock’s 39-point effort in the win at W&L, as she shot 7-of-10 from 3-point range and added six rebounds…On the other side of that matchup, Mary Schleusner contributed in a big way to W&L’s 52 points in the paint, tallying a total of 38 points on a 15-of-30 shooting day along with 13 rebounds, 7 of which were offensive boards…Lauren Huber put Illinois Wesleyan into the championship game of the RHIT Tournament, with a 15-point, 11-rebound, 5-assist, 4-steal effort, as she led the Titans on both ends of the floor…also for Illinois Wesleyan, Sawyer White had a strong had, with 13 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals off the bench…Carroll’s Olivia Rangel scored 28 points in her team’s win, and added 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals…WashU’s Lexy Harris led the Bears’ winning effort over DePauw, shooting 8-of-12 from the field in a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double performance…Piedmont’s Andelin Hill had 13 points and an impressive 16 rebounds in yesterday’s win over BSC, with 13 of those 16 boards coming on the offensive end…HSU’s Paris Kiser shot 5-of-8 from 3-point range in a 23-point, 9-rebound, 4-assist showing that helped lift HSU to victory.
A couple games I’ll be keeping an eye on today… (all times eastern)
#5 Rhode Island College at #13 Babson, 1:00 p.m.
#7 Trinity (CT) at #11 Smith, 2:00 p.m.
Wisconsin Lutheran vs #1 Transylvania, 3:00 p.m.
WashU vs Illinois Wesleyan (neutral court), 4:00 p.m.
Links and complete schedule can be found on d3hoops.com
Have a great rest of your weekend! I’ll have a breakdown of my new Top 25 ballot out tomorrow morning!