The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: Competitive duels in the UAA, NESCAC highlight Friday’s action

By Riley Zayas

February 10, 2023

Good morning! We’ve got Saturday basketball in February and the postseason is now in sight. Today, countless teams across the country are quite literally playing with their conference tournament hopes on the line. Others are trying to maintain their place within Pool C, and first-place battles are also unfolding with only a few games left in the regular season. It is certainly a fun time of year, and here’s a few thoughts on last night’s action, with a quick look ahead to today’s slate of games.

Tipping Off

Case Western Reserve/NYU

For really the second time all season, we saw NYU seriously challenged into the second half, as Case Western Reserve came to NYC with a very well-prepared gameplan. The 3-point shooting was very impressive from CWRU as I went back and watched the film from the first half, especially, as the Spartans were 4-of-5 from beyond the arc in the opening quarter. NYU was definitely on upset alert, with the game tied at 42 at halftime and the Violets leading 57-55 at the end of the 3rd. But NYU cranked it up a gear, and pulled away in the 4th for the 15-point win, 82-67. Still, outside of the Whittier game (which was played the day before Thanksgiving), I hadn’t seen NYU pushed like that this season. Credit to CWRU for the approach and success on the road, which isn’t seen often, especially against the nation’s #1 team. NYU ended up shooting 54.8% and won the rebounding battle by +13, but hats off to CWRU for making it a very interesting final few minutes. Also, can we just think about what would happen if the UAA had a conference tournament? I can certainly appreciate the UAA rewarding the regular season champ and get the arguments for not having a league tournament, but at the same time, CWRU is just 1-9 in league play. Yet, this is a squad that just went on the road and challenged the almost-unanimous #1 team in the country. A conference tournament would be so interesting with the depth in this league, and better yet, nobody would be completely out of contention for NCAA Tournament play, which is the case right now. I get the arguments for both sides, but this was just another great example of the competitiveness found each weekend in the UAA.

WashU keeps its Pool C chances alive

Here’s another case of a UAA team whose only path to the NCAA Tournament lies in earning a Pool C bid, and in this case, elevated its resume last night. WashU has shown it can win big games, and win on the road, despite struggles are various points of the season. The Bears went to No. 19 Emory last night and took down the Eagles, 72-61, as Jessica Brooks had an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double. The rebounding margin was what surprised me…+23 in favor of WashU! That made up for a -7 turnover differential and WashU also really forced its way into the paint, scoring 48 points there. I have a hard time with WashU, because on one hand, I still like them as a Top 25 team. On the other, I think they’ve been more inconsistent than you’d like to see from a Top 25-caliber squad. The issue for WashU is that even if the Bears go 3-1 over their final four games, the win percentage would be .680, which is just below a threshold of .700 that the committee seems to favor. However, with the emphasis on SOS, WashU may benefit in a big way from the committee’s slant towards that metric. Keep an eye on how WashU navigates the next two weeks. It will be very interesting to see where they stack up in Region 8, and if they do get into the tournament, it is likely going to be right at the end of the selection process. If you’re a WashU fan, you need to be rooting for every conference tournament favorite to win, because the Bears really can’t afford any bid thieves if they want to preserve their Pool C chances.

Bantams are on the rise

I’ve definitely changed my thoughts as of late on Trinity (CT), a team I had in my Top 5 to start the year, but dropped out of my ballot after a very sluggish start. The tide has turned though, and Trinity (CT) now sits tied with Bates for second place in the NESCAC, just one game behind Bowdoin. Not only are the Bantams 7-2 in league play, but they’ve won 9 of their last 10 as well! Trinity is now in position to host in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, and I’m more convinced of that after seeing last night’s big 59-45 win over Bates. We all know how good Bates has been, and for the Bantams outscore the Bobcats in the way they did over the final three quarters is impressive to see. Elsa Daulerio had 21 points and 13 boards, but as a team, Bates was fairly quiet, a testament to Trinity’s defensive approach. I like the momentum that the Bantams have, and with their regular season finale against Tufts today, I think it is possible we see Trinity head into the NESCAC Tournament with a five-game winning streak.

Interesting turn of events at the end of regulation as Oglethorpe defeats Sewanee

I was going to put this in the “fast breaks” section, but let’s just put it here. Oglethorpe and Sewanee played the highest-scoring game of the night, as the contest went in double-overtime, with Oglethorpe emerging in a 97-92 victory on Senior Day. But how they got to that final score is pretty interesting. Due to a very disappointing camera swivel, we never saw Sewanee’s go-ahead 3-pointer with five seconds left for a 75-73 lead (#d3problems!). But what we did see was the officials huddle up and assess a technical foul on Sewanee “for entering the court in celebration”. Again, that’s all I know as the camera operator kept the stream fixed on one end of the court. But regardless, it changed the game. While Oglethorpe did miss both free throws, the Stormy Petrels got the ball on their end of the court as part of the technical, which set up a drive to the lane by Malia Melton, and a foul call that sent her to the line with two seconds left. She came up clutch, made both free throws, and sent the game into OT. The two teams tied at 8-8 after the first OT before Oglethorpe outscored Sewanee 14-9 in the second OT. 54 of Oglethorpe’s points came in the paint, as the Stormy Petrels moved ahead of Sewanee with the head-to-head result for the No. 5 spot in the SAA standings.

Fast Breaks

» Brandeis put together an impressive 26-point 4th quarter, and got past Carnegie Mellon, 72-70, for the Judges’ first UAA win of the season. Caitlin Gresko had 19 points for Brandeis.

» In Colorado College’s 69-63 loss to Schreiner, Zoe Tomlinson grabbed 26 rebounds, which is tied for the third-most rebounds in a women’s game in SCAC history. She also surpassed 800 career rebounds in the process.

» In a SUNYAC upset, Brockport handed Cortland an 84-80 loss, as Brockport fought off a late 4th-quarter rally from the Red Dragons. Brockport was 50.8% from the field and 11-of-20 from 3-point range, as SUNY New Paltz now holds a two-game lead in the SUNYAC standings.

» In a surprising NESCAC result, Wesleyan, who entered yesterday’s game at 1-7 in the league, took down Tufts. And it wasn’t close. 73-61 was the final as Tufts continues to struggle. It marked Wesleyan’s first win over Tufts since 2006 and keeps Wesleyan in contention for the NESCAC Tournament.

Looking Ahead

#18 DeSales at Lebanon Valley, 1:00 p.m. ET

#21 Smith at MIT, 1:00 p.m. ET

Capital at Ohio Northern, 2:00 p.m. ET

#25 Bates at Wesleyan, 3:00 p.m. ET

#8 Scranton at Susquehanna, 4:00 p.m. ET

#16 UW-Oshkosh at UW-River Falls, 4:00 p.m. ET

Randolph-Macon at Washington & Lee, 4:30 p.m. ET

UW-Stout at UW-Eau Claire, 5:00 p.m. ET

Puget Sound at Willamette, 7:00 p.m. ET

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