The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: Geneva stuns W&J, ONU takes down top seed Baldwin Wallace in OAC semis

Welcome back to another day in one of the best weeks of the year, as conference tournament time unfolds and we approach championship weekend. We’ve got several league title games in play tonight, and honestly, we had so much that happened yesterday that most of this newsletter will be looking back on last night. After all, two No. 1 seeds fell in a matter of minutes, and we had great games from coast-to-coast (literally).

UPSET COMPLETE: Geneva ends W&J’s season in PAC semifinals

Three days ago, Geneva entered the week with a sub-.500 overall record, sitting at 12-13, lucky to have grabbed to the fifth seed in the PAC Tournament. But what do records matter when it comes to postseason basketball?

The Golden Tornadoes cleared their first hurdle at Allegheny on Tuesday, winning 84-73, clinching the program’s first PAC semifinal appearance in the process. And last night, they made history once again, finding their way into Saturday’s championship game with a chance to reach the NCAA Tournament. Who would’ve thought…

The 89-75 win for Geneva over heavily-favored Washington & Jefferson came as a shocker, especially considering W&J’s 23-2 record and No. 6 ranking within Region 7. After taking a surprising loss to Chatham in last year’s PAC semifinals, it seemed W&J may have used that loss as motivation in this scenario, jumping out to a 26-15 lead through one quarter.

Things changed in the second half however, after Geneva had gotten the halftime deficit to just nine. A 26-17 third quarter was followed by a massive 31-17 fourth for Geneva, who saw its seven-point lead dwindle to zero with 4:32 left. In fact, at that point, Geneva trailed, 68-67. But a 16-0 run followed for the Golden Tornadoes and there was no bigger stretch at any point in the contest. Mackenzie Barricklow’s 3-pointer for an 81-68 lead was the nail in the coffin to W&J’s hopes at a comeback, as Geneva earned the biggest upset of the night…by far.

W&J scheduled really well in non-conference, but unfortunately, the Presidents are going to have a difficult time getting into the Pool C discussion. The SOS is just too low, and much of that is the PAC weighing those numbers down. The win percentage is impressive, but with the emphasis on SOS in this conversations, W&J is very far down on the Pool C board. Scott Peterson’s updated NCAA resumes model has W&J at #51 on the Pool C board. And for reference, only 21 Pool C bids are up for grabs.

Ohio Northern stuns top seed Baldwin Wallace in OAC Tourney

That said, Ohio Northern might have something to say. The Polar Bears also took down a top seed, though as I noted in yesterday morning’s newsletter, this was one we could see as being a possibility. Fourth-seeded ONU took down No. 1 seed Baldwin Wallace in the OAC semifinals on the road, 57-43. For as tough of a year as its been for ONU, I think it was always understood that the Polar Bears had the talent capable of winning a game like this one. It was 33-13 at halftime, and ONU absolutely controlled the game from start to finish in one of the more dominant semifinal showings I saw last night. Brynn Serbin had 22 points and with Kristen Luersman having been back on the floor as of late, ONU has looked more in rhythm offensively.

This also creates an interesting situation with Baldwin Wallace and the Yellowjackets status as the current No. 3 team in Region 7. While they might not be a Pool C “lock”, I think chances are good that Baldwin Wallace gets to the selection table within the first 10 rounds at least. As the projected Pool A out of the OAC, we also have our first potential bid thief situation, as Baldwin Wallace is likely to “steal” an at-large bid now. We knew coming into the week that BW’s chances to get in via Pool C were decent but not secure, and we’ll see how that aspect of things plays out, especially since Marietta, who beat Capital handily the other OAC semifinal, will almost certainly jump ahead of Baldwin Wallace now. In the case that ONU wins on Saturday, Marietta will likely get to the Pool C table before Baldwin Wallace, creating a situation where BW is “blocked” from being considered until Marietta is selected, which could be in the later rounds. It is definitely something that Scott Peterson and I have both been tracking, and will continue to keep an eye on as it relates to the Pool C projections and how other teams are fitting into that mix.

Closest game of the day? Loras vs. Coe

The finish to the ARC semifinal between Loras and Coe might have been the closest of any of the day’s games, with the difference being a free throw made with four-tenths of a second left on the clock. Loras’ 61-60 victory sent the Duhawks to the ARC championship as Daniella Jarrell converted on a critical free throw, undoubtedly the biggest free throw of her career, to break a 60-60 tie. With nine seconds left, Coe’s Ellie Wisner hit a 3-pointer that knotted the score, and Loras inbounded the ball with just over eight seconds left out of a timeout, looking for the game-winner. Silvana Scarsella had a decent look with only a few seconds left from the right corner, but missed short, and Jarrell was in the right spot for the offensive rebound. As she went up for the putback, it appeared contact was made, resulting in the trip to the line with 0.4 left. Needless to say, the call was met with some frustration from the Coe bench, and to a degree, the contact seemed minimal, especially for that kind of a moment in a tournament semifinal. But take a look at it yourself (VIDEO LINK)…I’d love to hear thoughts on whether that contact warranted a whistle, especially with under a second left. As an overall game, it was so competitive, and credit to Loras for fighting back. Coe led big, 40-29 at the half, but Loras outscored Coe 30-22 over the final 20 minutes. And I’m certainly not criticizing the officiating here at all, but the free throw disparity is worth a mention. Coe was 3-of-3 at the FT line. Loras? 15-of-18.

Carroll starts fast, takes down Millikin in CCIW semifinals

I’m not sure anyone had a better start in a more pivotal game than Carroll last night, who defeated Millikin for a THIRD time this season. This time, it was in the CCIW semifinals on a neutral court at Illinois Wesleyan, and Carroll got out to a significant lead in a hurry. It was 27-17 after the opening quarter, and 45-26 at halftime, as the Pioneers shot a ridiculous 19-of-29 in the first two quarters. Millikin answered with a 22-12 third quarter, and impressively, got the deficit to three with 4:46 to go. But Carroll refused to let it slip away and sealed its trip to the CCIW championship game with a 9-3 spurt for a 71-62 lead. Carroll walked away with a 75-66 victory and one of the day’s more impressive performances. Olivia Rangel was terrific for Carroll, as she has been all year, and tallied 24 points in the win.

As for NCAA Tournament implications, both teams are safe. Millikin is in a good position right now, and should be one of the first several teams taken in Pool C. Carroll now plays for the CCIW’s AQ, but the Pioneers also have a strong Pool C chance.

Other Notes

Occidental and La Verne battled in a game that saw the final minute play out in about 17 minutes total…it was a true chess match, and La Verne cut an 12-point deficit to 3 in the span of 36 seconds. Marissa Howell had two big 3-pointers (off-balance, too) for La Verne, but Occidental was 10-of-13 at the free throw line in the final minute. That kept Oxy in front en route to the 76-70 win, and sends the Tigers to a SCIAC title game on Saturday against top-seeded Cal Lutheran.

In a MASCAC semifinal, Framingham State emerged with an 81-55 win over Salem State. In that victory, FSU’s Flannery O’Connor scored 24 points along with 19 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in an absolutely stellar performance. Her presence will be key as FSU prepares to face Bridgewater State in the MASCAC title game. FSU also set a new program record for wins, with 23, last night, surpassing the previous high of 22.

Houghton pulled off a big win at Nazareth in the Empire 8 Tournament semifinals, 63-52, sending Houghton to its first E8 championship game. Second-seeded Nazareth fell behind in the first quarter, and never got especially close to taking back a lead, as third-seeded Houghton took down the Golden Flyers for the second time within the last two weeks.

Scranton and Elizabethtown battled hard in the Landmark Conference semifinals, with Scranton eventually pulling out a 51-42 win. But it was close all the way through, and with 5:43 left, the score was tied at 40. ETown briefly took a 41-40 lead with 3:23 left before Scranton scored the next six points. Notably, Kaci Kranson did not play for Scranton in the win, so that is something to keep an eye on heading into Saturday’s Landmark championship game, and the NCAA Tournament beyond.

Conference Championship Games finalized last night:

GNAC, Region 1: #2 St. Joseph (CT) at #1 St. Joseph’s (ME), Saturday

MASCAC, Region 2, #2 Bridgewater State at #1 Framingham State,

OAC, Region 7: #4 Ohio Northern at #2 Marietta, Saturday

PAC, Region 7: #5 Geneva at #2 Chatham, Saturday

MIAC, Region 9: #2 Concordia (MN) at #1 Gustavus Adolphus, Saturday

SCIAC, Region 10: #3 Occidental at #1 Cal Lutheran, Saturday

Championship Games on tap tonight

CUNYAC, Region 4: John Jay at Brooklyn, 5:30 p.m. ET

NJAC, Region 4: NJCU at TCNJ, 7:00 p.m. ET

WIAC, Region 10: UW-Stout at UW-Oshkosh, 8:00 p.m. ET

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