January 13, 2024
By Riley Zayas
Good morning! We’ve got a full Saturday of D3 women’s basketball ahead! But first, let’s take a look back on last night’s action and key storylines. There were several across the country…literally. We had a huge win in Washington D.C. to start the evening, and finished with an upset in McMinnville, Oregon.
So here we go…
Catholic remains undefeated in a big win over Scranton
On its home court, Catholic came up with the biggest win of its season, knocking off ninth-ranked Scranton Friday night in an overtime thriller, 89-86. Considering the Cardinals hadn’t beaten Scranton at home since the 2019-20 season, it was a huge result, and even more so, because it kept Catholic undefeated, backing up a #13 national rank that I was admittedly a bit skeptical of entering the matchup. I knew Catholic was a Top 25 team, certainly, but was unsure how the 13-0 record stacked up with the Cardinals having played the nation’s No. 200 strength-of-schedule thus far. But to beat a team with the talent level of Scranton (in addition to having already beaten Elizabethtown on the road) says a great deal about Catholic’s place amongst the nation’s best. The Cardinals certainly appear to be the frontrunner in the Landmark Conference title race, with victories over the league’s other two main contenders already.
With 4:44 left in regulation, Scranton took a 60-47 lead, appearing to be en route to a huge conference win. With 2:20 left, Catholic still trailed by 11. But then came a 10-0 run from the Cardinals, eerily similar to the comeback made late in the win over Elizabethtown back on Nov. 29. Kerry Flaherty kept connecting from 3-point range, and Catholic never backed down in the face of a double-digit deficit. In the blink of an eye, it went from a 66-55 game to a 66-65 game, and Keegan Douglas’ 3-pointer with one second left in the fourth sent the contest in OT, where Catholic emerged with the victory.
What an effort from Douglas, who played 42 minutes, and scored 29 points, shooting 4-of-7 from 3 and 11-of-13 at the free throw line. As a team, Catholic shot 11-of-27 from beyond the arc, making up for the -20 rebounding differential. The Cardinals will take a big step forwards in my ballot this week.
#6 Emory wins at #25 WashU, extends win streak to 12 games
The UAA never seems to disappoint when it comes to down-to-the-wire battles and thrilling finishes that leave you on the edge of your seat. We saw one of those in St. Louis last night, as #6 Emory made the trip west for a duel with #25 WashU. Though Emory led 61-49 entering the fourth quarter, WashU proved exactly why the Bears are a Top 25 team, coming all the way back to cut the deficit to 74-73 with 48 seconds left. Emory ultimately hung onto its lead, pulling out a 76-73 victory as two chances at a tie were missed by WashU in the final seconds. Emory did a number of things well in this game, including the ball movement, which yielded 16 assists and contributed to the Eagles shooting 42.4%. WashU did challenge Emory in the paint, as the Bears scored 46 points there, and found consistent offense at the rim. But overall, on the road against a top-quality team like WashU, the defense was sound.
Interestingly, while nobody in Emory’s rotation entered the game averaging more than 30 minutes per game, four of the Eagles’ starters played at least 31 minutes, including Claire Brock, who was on the floor for 38 of the game’s 40 minutes. Brock and Morgan Laudick, who played 34 minutes, accounted for 40 of Emory’s points, pacing the offense quite well. Emory, now 12-1, closes its road trip tomorrow in the Windy City, facing Chicago. I was really impressed by last night’s performance from the Eagles, who continue to trend upwards in my Top 25.
Is Bowdoin the team to beat in the NESCAC?
It certainly seems that way. The Polar Bears went on the road to what I believe is a very underrated Middlebury team and emerged with a 68-65 victory last night, improving to 2-0 in the NESCAC and 14-1 overall. Bowdoin is rolling right now, and the fact that Middlebury won at Amherst last weekend adds even more value to last night’s victory for the Polar Bears. It came down to the wire, but Bowdoin’s defensive effort forced a pair of Middlebury turnovers in the final 20 seconds, which was key, considering Middlebury only needed a 3-pointer to tie it up at that point. Statistically, Bowdoin shot 51.9 percent, and that offensive success was something I noted in yesterday morning’s write-up. The Polar Bears have been fairly consistent offensively and while 3-point shooting is one of their strengths, Bowdoin found most of its scoring from short-range, battling inside and scoring 40 points in the paint. Amherst is certainly close to Bowdoin at this point, but I’m not sure anyone in the NESCAC is playing with more poise and consistency. Bowdoin has won 11 straight and is 5-0 on the road this season. We’ll see how the matchup against Williams plays out today, but Bowdoin really did a nice job of picking up yet another notable road victory last night. Great stuff from the Polar Bears.
Chaos in the NWC
We saw two huge results in Northwest Conference play last night, with Willamette taking down Puget Sound on the road, 70-62, and Whitman falling in a surprising loss to Linfield, 51-45. Wow, where to start…
I thought Willamette looked sharp in a number of facets, particularly on the offensive end. Willamette’s two go-to post players—forward Elyse Waldal and center Ava Kitchin—posted a pair of strong performances that certainly gave the Bearcats an advantage, at least on the offensive end. Waldal had 20 points and Kitchin added eight, along with three assists. That said…Puget Sound tallied 21 offensive rebounds, and won the battle on the boards as a result, 42-33. The Loggers capitalized on those offensive rebounds, with 20 second-chance points. But Willamette shot 52.9% and was in an offensive rhythm for much of the game…and that was key to the Bearcats maintaining their advantage. Willamette now has wins over Whittier, Whitman, Trinity (TX), and Puget Sound. Not to mention being 5-1 in NWC play.
As mentioned, Linfield pulled off the upset of #19 Whitman, and I didn’t see that one coming at all. Linfield has been good this season, but Whitman, especially as of late, looked to be the frontrunner in the NWC. Yet, Linfield walked away with a 51-45 victory, benefitting from a handful of favorable calls but also playing tremendous defense through all four quarters. Whitman struggled from 3-point range (3-of-12) and couldn’t get much of a rhythm going, especially in the second half. The fact that the Blues were just 8-of-14 at the FT line didn’t help either.
I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again…this might be one of the most interesting conference races of the season. We’ve now got Willamette leading the league at 5-1, Pacific just behind at 4-1, and Linfield, Puget Sound, and Whitman all tied for third at 3-2. It’ll be an interesting next few weeks in that league.
» In an 84-58 victory over Case Western Reserve, #1 NYU tallied 48 points in the paint, as the Violets scored time and time again from short-range. Another big stat? 40 bench points for NYU in that dominant win.
» Amherst defeated Tufts, 68-63, in another tightly-contested battle. The Mammoths earned their fifth straight regular season win at Tufts in the process, and bounced back in a big way after being held to just two points total in the second quarter; Amherst scored 43 over the next 20 minutes, earning a crucial NESCAC road win.
» Trinity (TX) held an opponent below 50 points for the first time this season, defeating St. Thomas (TX), 83-39. That large margin of victory was largely helped by the fact that the Tigers forced 40 turnovers, which directly led to 49 points.
» For the first time since Jan. 8, 2017, Millsaps won at Rhodes, 61-55, and it was a big result, considering both were undefeated in SAA play. Millsaps improved to 14-2, and 5-0 in the SAA.
Springfield at MIT, 1:00 pm ET
Oberlin at DePauw, 1:00 pm ET
Lebanon Valley at #21 DeSales, 1:00 pm ET
#20 Mary Hardin-Baylor at McMurry, 2:00 pm ET
Mary Washington at #23 Washington & Lee, 2:00 pm ET
#16 Amherst at Bates, 3:00 pm ET
UW-Platteville at UW-La Crosse, 5:00 pm ET
#22 UW-Stout at #4 UW-Whitewater, 6:00 pm ET