Welcome back! Pretty exciting day in D3 women’s hoops yesterday, with games from mid-morning until late in the evening. And there were several that you couldn’t help but be on the edge of your seat as you watched the final quarter unfold. Here are a few of my thoughts from watching yesterday’s action, along with a big-time game to be looking ahead to today…
All these holiday tournaments make for some very early tip-off times, such as TCNJ’s battle in Puerto Rico with Susquehanna yesterday morning that began at 9 a.m. here in the central time zone. It was a nice win for TCNJ, who I think could be a viable contender in the NJAC, especially with NJ City struggling quite a bit at this point.
A game that I thought might have had the chance to turn out close between Loras and #9 Babson turned out to be nothing of the sort. Instead, Loras ran away with it, taking down a previously undefeated Babson team, 73-52. Loras has been on my watch list for a couple weeks now, and if you remember, this is not the first time the DuHawks have come up with a big win. They also took down UW-Eau Claire two weeks ago, which remains UWEC’s only loss of the season. Loras seems to have the right mix of guards and forwards who each contribute on both ends of the floor. Both Sami Martin and Silvana Scarsella had 20+ points in yesterday’s win. With that win, I’d think Loras has to enter the Top 25 conversation.
The first matchup involving two Top 25 teams came in #20 Puget Sound’s 59-58 win over #16 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Played on a neutral court, this had the feel of an NCAA Tournament game, and was back-and-forth in nature the whole way. UMHB led 59-58 with under 20 seconds to go, but PS inbounded the ball, dribbled around, and eventually found Grace Pytynia-Hillier, who drove to the free-throw line, and put up the game-winning shot with a tenth of a second left on the clock. Her shot won the game for PS, while UMHB lost its second straight. Regardless of the outcome in today’s game for PS against Trinity, this was a big-time resume-building win for the NWC title favorite.
The second matchup came on the west coast, as #18 UC Santa Cruz hosted #21 UW-Whitewater. There was a lot on the line for both teams, as I mentioned in yesterday’s write-up, and both teams played like it, with Whitewater pulling out a 61-60 victory. I thought a few too many fouls were called on plays that were borderline questionable, but hey, what do I know? Whitewater erased a two-point deficit and took a two-point lead in the span of less than 30 seconds, as Yssa Sto. Domingo came up with all four points. UCSC did a good job on the offensive end to get back into it after falling behind early, and shot 6-of-11 from 3-point range in the game. But down the stretch, with All-American Kaylee Murphy having fouled out for UCSC, Whitewater found a way to score at the right times.
Wartburg bounced back from a really rough showing against Scranton Monday and battled #10 Trine extremely well in Florida. But Trine emerged with a 60-56 win, keeping its win streak, now at six games, alive. Defining stat in this one was the rebounding totals: Trine outrebounded Wartburg 44-29, which is a huge margin for a four-point game. A few more offensive boards, and Wartburg could’ve been in a different position. What I will say though is that Wartburg gave up 13 offensive rebounds, but Trine scored just six points on those. Not a bad defensive showing. Still trying to figure out where Trine stacks up with the Top 15 or so in the nation.
Cortland beat Dickinson in what could actually be a win over a regionally-ranked opponent for Cortland, depending on how things shake out once regional rankings are released in February. Dickinson is a solid team, 4-1 right now in the Centennial Conference, but Cortland is also playing very well, at 9-2. The 63-54 win saw Cortland shoot 47% from 3-point range, and they held off an 18-9 run from Dickinson to close the game. Cortland is certainly in the national conversation, with its only losses coming to Ithaca and CNU, along with notable wins over Hamilton and SUNY Geneseo.
Key game today: #20 Puget Sound at #3 Trinity, 4 pm EST: This is a big one, and undoubtedly a result we will still be talking about come Selection Monday in March. PS has momentum after beating UMHB less than 24 hours ago on that game-winner, while Trinity has had a day to prepare and rest, not to mention playing on its home court. Both teams run a full-court press, so this will either be a game in which multiple players go for 20+ points, or a game where we see both sides turn the ball over about 20 times. It’s really a 50-50, and I think whoever executes better defensively comes out with the win. Massey matchup tool has Trinity winning 72-70…you don’t want to miss this one! Brian Yancelson has the call (and does a great job) on Trinity’s Tiger Network: https://www.youtube.com/@trinityuniversity/streams
Welcome back! What a day it was in D3 women’s hoops yesterday. Let’s get right into it!
Game of the Day: WashU @ Illinois Wesleyan, 4 pm EST
This is going to be a good one. Perhaps both of these teams deserve to be ranked. Perhaps both will. The bottom line is, WashU is still undefeated, having shown exeplorary effort in the comeback over #14 Millikin last week. IWU is 4-2, but those two losses are to Hope and UW-Whitewater, two teams ranked in the Top 4. IWU looked sharp in yesterday’s win over DePauw and will be on their home court, but WashU is looking better and better each time the Bears step out there.
Keep an eye on…
#7 Smith @ Trinity (CT), 3 pm EST
UNE (4-2) @ #11 Tufts (4-0), 1 pm EST
Swarthmore @ Washington & Lee, 12:30 pm EST
No. 4 UW-Whitewater was the highest-ranked of the Top 25 teams that fell yesterday, as Calvin came up with an upset, winning 66-64 on Whitewater’s home court. Talk about a big-time win for Calvin, who is now 5-0. It was tight all the way down the stretch, with Calvin refusing to go away, though the Knights trailed 34-31 at the half. In perhaps one of the most impressive plays from my perspective, Gabby Timmer stepped up on the defensive end for Calvin, blocking a Whitewater shot with under 20 seconds to play, Calvin leading 62-61. After a pair of free throws, the Warhawks again had a chance to tie it on a three, but failed to convert. Playing in a conference that includes Hope and Trine, wins like this one are huge come selection time in March (though Calvin in my opinion is a legitimate MIAA contender).
Whitewater wasn’t the only Top 10 team to fall. In another game I mentioned you should keep your eye on yesterday, No. 8 Trine suffered its second loss of the season at the hands of Ohio Northern, who is unranked, but also undefeated. Trine had a chance to go ahead late, trailing 51-50 with under 10 seconds left. But the three point try was missed, and Ohio Northern’s Brynn Serbin made a leap as the ball was traveling out of bounds of the hands of an ONU player. She grabbed the ball, and got it to a teammate before her feet landed out of bounds. The ensuing free throws were enough for a 53-50 win for ONU. Trine seemed to struggle more than I thought they would, but ONU is definitely a team I’ll be paying closer attention to in the weeks to come.
#5 Trinity beat #18 Hardin-Simmons for the second time this week, winning both on the road, and at home. Trinity will be at least #4 in my Top 25 ballot this week. The Tigers beat HSU 81-68 yesterday, as their offense continues to roll, and that is without Maggie Shipley, mind you. Her presence is worth at least another 8-10 points for Trinity, meaning we’re not even seeing the Tigers are full strength right now.
Augustana definitely has scorers. It will serve them well in CCIW play. Against Webster yesterday (an 87-64 win), four different players had double figures in points, including Carly Stone, who came off the bench with 14. Gabriela Loiz had 18 points in just 18 minutes of action and Presley Case nearly had herself a double-double, with 14 points and nine rebounds.
In today’s action, I’m keeping an eye on some matchups that could impact the way the Top 25 shakes out. As mentioned above, #7 Smiths plays a talented Trinity (CT) team on the road today. Smith has been somewhat inconsistent against quality, yet unranked opponents to start the year. But they’re also 4-0, and I really want to get a good idea of where they stack up amongst the nation’s best. UNE also plays #11 Tufts today in a game that I think could be close. UNE is 4-2, having played well as of late, but nobody has been able to slow Maggie Russell.
Enjoy the rest of your day and your weekend. Be sure to read The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops each day, either right here, or on my Substack.
Welcome back! Glad you’re here, reading another edition of The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops. Decided to take a look at some of the unranked teams who received votes in the preseason poll and have what I consider to be the best resumes for Top 25 spots heading into the first in-season poll of the year. More on that below. But first, there’s going to be a good game tonight in Rochester…
Game of the Day: #17 St. John Fisher @ Rochester, 8 pm EST
I didn’t necessarily pick this game because it is the only one tonight with a Top 25 team involved, though that is part of it! Rochester looked sharp in wins over UT-Dallas and Messiah to open the year, but SJF will present a whole new test. At 3-0, SJF has not been challenged all that much, and will benefit from facing a quality unranked opponent in Rochester. SJF is balanced offensively, sharing the ball well, with a tremendous amount of depth, which should help in late-game situations, where foul trouble, and fatigue begins to take effect.
#4 UW-Whitewater’s duel with Illinois Wesleyan lived up the expectation of being a big-time non-conference showdown. Though UWW emerged with a hard-fought 70-61 (and trust me, it was hard-fought) win, IWU came out of the gate much stronger, shooting 64 percent in the opening quarter as the Titans took a 21-8 lead. But in a split second, things switched for the Warhawks, who scored 23 in the second quarter, cutting the deficit to 38-31 at the half. Outscoring IWU 21-10 in the third is really when things began looking up for Whitewater, and the Warhawks held off a strong charge from IWU late, cutting it to two, before the hosts pulled away. Kacie Carollo continues to shoot the ball well, as she had 20 points. IWU had a 20-point scorer of its own in Katelyn Heller.
DeSales is 3-0 to start the year, having added a nine-point win over Muhlenberg last night. Team “No. 26” in the Preseason Top 25 (the team that received the most votes that was not ranked), DeSales is certainly making a case for a Top 25 spot. Problem is that they do not play a particularly strong non-conference schedule, so it is somewhat hard to compare their resume with others in contention for those last five spots in the poll.
Big win for Gustavus Adolphus over in the midwest last night. This Simpson College team may not be the SC teams of old, but nonetheless, the Storm are still a serious contender in the ARC. The Gusties however, seem to be following up well on last year’s 22-5 season. They’re 2-0, and last night’s 76-73 win proved they can execute in pressure situations. Anna Sanders was 4-of-5 from 3-point land for Gustavus Adolphus in a pretty impressive performance.
Catholic is another team that I’m certainly considering as a Top 25 voter. They had the seventh-most points amongst unranked teams in the preseason poll, and have started 4-0, the most recent of those coming in last night’s 71-46 rout of Salisbury. They shot an eye-popping 66 percent from 3-point rnage (yes, you read that right), as they were 12-of-18. That long-range accuracy certainly played in Catholic’s favor, especially in the first half.
Going on Hoopsville today to talk some women’s hoops with Dave, Gordon and Scott, who always offer great insight. This isn’t a live segment, so I’m unsure when it will be put out, but once it is, I’ll be sure to add a link here! Always great to have some back-and-forth and good discussions on such a large division of college basketball!
Welcome to weekend basketball! We have games tipping off at 12 pm EST, and going all the way until 7 pm EST tip-offs tonight…and the best part of it is there are going to be competitive matchups throughout the day. Yesterday saw a Top 25 upset, a couple of near-upsets, and a couple of absolutely stellar offensive showings. I’ll get to that in a second, but first, take a look at the Game of the Day…
Game of the Day: #14 Millikin @ #4 UW-Whitewater, 5 pm EST
This will be an interesting matchup for a couple reasons. One, both teams were on the court less than 24 hours ago, as part of the UWW Tournament. Two, neither looked extremely strong, which means there will likely be some added motivation on both sides to put together a strong effort. Plus, a win here would significantly boost either team’s resume, and considering how tough the WIAC and CCIW can be, you can never have enough wins like these on your resume heading into Selection Monday.
Keep an eye on…
Illinois Wesleyan @ #1 Hope, 3 pm EST
#11 Tufts @ Bates, 4 pm EST
UT-Dallas @ Johns Hopkins, 1 pm EST
Additional thoughts from around the division…
Wow. That’s all I could say when the Baldwin Wallace/Trine game finally came to a close…after over 2 hours and 2 overtimes. It was about as balanced as you could get statistically, but Baldwin Wallace, perhaps aided by its very large home crowd, found a way to pull it out down the stretch, outscoring Trine 14-9 in the second overtime for a 75-70 win. BW is currently ranked #12, but this win alone, with Trine at #8, should give the Yellow Jackets a very good chance to crack the Top 10, as long as they take of business in their next three. Credit to Trine. It looked like BW would win after the first OT, but Sierra Hinds stepped up with back-to-back 3-pointers in the span of about 10 seconds, the second one at the buzzer, to send it into a second OT. I thought BW was just a little bit better from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, and in both overtimes, taking advantage of uncontested shots that really do not come often against a disciplined defense like Trine’s.
Was scrolling through the D3hoops.com scoreboard when I saw Carroll trailing #4 UW-Whitewater by just three. Watching the final minutes of that one, Carroll came extremely close to pulling off what would’ve been the upset of the day. But UWW is ranked #4 for a reason, as they executed down the stretch, made their free throws, and forced a few missed shots as they survived on their home court with a 56-52 win.
#14 Millikin wasn’t as lucky in Whitewater yesterday afternoon. I really like the team that Olivia Lett has this season, and they nearly shocked D-I Eastern Illinois in an exhibition a couple weeks ago, losing by just four. But UW-Stevens Point outscored Millikin 24-12 in the third quarter, taking a 9-point lead, and the Big Blue just did not have enough time to rally back, as UWSP pulled off the Top 25 upset, 64-61. But forward Bailey Coffman, who had 21 points in that exhibition for Millikin, did not play. When she returns, Millikin will be the team to beat in the CCIW, just watch. Also, plenty of credit to UWSP, who outrebounded Millikin 44-29, no doubt a contributing factor in the win.
I had to see it to believe it, so I turned on the Hope/Geneva game…and yep, the D3hoops.com scoreboard was completely accurate. The nation’s #1 team left no doubt about its firepower in the season opener, leading 110-37 at the end of the THIRD quarter. Hope isn’t going anywhere. The Flying Dutch won 143-57, shooting 63% from the field! Update: Have been told that Hope set the all-time record for D-III points in a game. Wow.
Trinity joined the 140-point club as well, dominating on the offensive end against Birmingham-Southern in a 140-87 win. The Tigers had 30-plus points in all four quarters, and take a look at this stat line for senior guard Addie Putnam: 26 points, 11-of-11 shooting, 2-of-3 from 3-point range, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals in…13 minutes!?! Trinity is No. 5 in the nation right now, and a title contender in my opinion.
After noticing that Texas Lutheran was leading No. 18 Hardin-Simmons 14-12 after the first quarter, I tuned into that one…and HSU backed up being picked No. 1 in the ASC Preseason Poll. The ASC is going to be very deep this year; I wouldn’t count HSU, ETBU, UMHB or UT-Dallas out as a possible conference champion. HSU went from trailing by 2 to leading by 19 by halftime, looking sharp in transition, and running away (literally) from the TLU defense. They play so fast, and that will be a challenge for opponents this year. Paris Kiser was a major offseason addition, a transfer who was the starting point guard at UTD, and as a pass-first type of guard, she fits well into the offense, with Parris Parmer taking a high percentage of the shots, most of the time from three-point range. HSU’s three-point shooting ability makes them dangerous, considering they can hit a few in a row, and be right back in a game they were trailing in by double digits even a couple minutes prior.
That’s what I’ll leave you with on this Saturday morning. Games tip off in just a couple of hours and it should be an excellent weekend of basketball.
At one point Saturday afternoon, York, Swarthmore, Eastern Connecticut and MIT all were losing in the second half, and No. 3 Wittenberg and No. 5 Middlebury had already lost. And that was how the day went in Division III men’s basketball, with seven ranked teams losing to unranked opponents — just in the afternoon games — on a key Saturday with conference schedules winding down.
This is usually the time of the season when voters have pretty much locked down their ballots and are fine tuning things. I feel like each week I’m looking at my ballot and wondering how much time will take to completely start over … again. This is mid-February! We two weeks left in the regular season. Conference tournaments start… in days.
It really is incredible.
I am tempted to do this when I print out the Top 25 ballot information. Not sure I want to even look most weeks.
I once again took some drastic steps this week. I’m not going to go into every single thing I looked at and considered – we don’t have the time – however, I did drop some teams significantly and brought in some non-ranked teams into some relatively high spots.
I want to start leaning on teams that are winning. There is always the adage that if a team continues to win, than they are proving themselves. Of course, the first problem is … who continues to win? The other problem is some of the teams that are winning aren’t exactly getting tested. Those losing, are losing in tough conferences, but you can’t just reward good conferences and look the other way when teams with good schedules only win half the time (that’s for coaches polls in other sports).
Oh, how did my ballot do last week? Not good. 17 losses in total amongst 12 teams. Most of those losses were in my Top 15 (9 losses). If you are wondering, the D3hoops.com Top 25 took 17 losses as well … ALL in the Top 20.
Tim Howell helped lift the Blues past Whitworth by hitting two free-throws with 0.9 seconds remaining. (Courtesy: Whitman Athletics)
1 – Whitman (NC)
As expected, the Blues had a battle on their hands in Spokane against Whitworth this past week. I went in figuring Whitman may lose. That’s what happens in rivalries. However, they battled through some not-so-great play and found answers to pull off the 100-99 win. The only danger Whitman keeps showing me is allowing too many teams to hang around for too long. That could bite them at the wrong time.
2 – WashU (NC)
3 – St. John’s (+1)
The Johnnies are the first team in 12(+?) years to win the MIAC regular season not named St. Thomas. They wrapped up the conference regular season title with a week before the conference tournament. SJU looks really good.
4 – Wittenberg (-1)
I toyed with dropping the Tigers further for losing to Hiram. It is their first loss, but there are several others teams I would expect their first loss to come to. That said, Hiram also beat a stumbling Ohio Wesleyan squad earlier in the week and … did I mention it was Witt’s first loss of the season? So, they didn’t drop that far. There were also a lot of losses below Witt. There was only so far I was willing to drop Wittenberg before encountering squads that I do not consider better than Wittenberg.
5 – UW-Platteville (+1)
6 – Whitworth (+6)
The Pirates showed me something on Tuesday. Well, Kyle Roach showed me something … maybe. They had moments where they looked really good against the top team in the country – and bitter rivals. However, the game also concerned me. Roach can’t be expected to score 45 points and do everything if Whitworth wants to win. He fouled out in the game in Walla Walla … Whitworth lost 91-75. Just writing that makes me wonder why I moved the Pirates up the poll. With so many teams losing, including Whitworth, I decided to at least go with one that didn’t look horrible. 🙂
Psst… Wooster has lost only once in the last 17 games. That dates back to early December. (Courtesy: Wooster Athletics)
7 – Wooster (+8)
The Scots are winning unlike others. They have lost once since December 2 and that loss was to Wittenberg. The rematch comes this weekend and it may be Wooster who is playing better right now.
8 – York (Pa.) (+2)
I didn’t intend to move the Spartans up after losing to Salisbury, but it wasn’t like I could find a way to move them down, either! No. The loss to Salisbury this season isn’t good. It also closed the race at the top of the CAC down to something a little … uncomfortable, especially if you are a YCP fan. I really like the components YCP has to use, but not being deep on the bench concerns me. They still have a game at Christopher Newport this week to close off the CAC regular season. York has put themselves in a tough spot… and I did move them up. The perfect example of how hard this has been this season.
9 – Emory (+2)
I had the Yellow Jackets as my “Dubious” choice in this week’s “Hoopsville Top 25 Double-take” (above) … and I moved them up a couple of spots. SMH Like York, it was mainly thanks to everything else happening in the poll especially in this part of the ballot. I still think they are dubious. I still am not that convinced Emory is better than what we know is very good coaching, but it isn’t like anyone else’s results help make that argument. Emory had two close games against good UAA opponents this week, but Emory needs to put teams away. This week’s results brought back thoughts after losses to Guilford and Hampden-Sydney back to my mind.
10 – Hamilton (+5)
I am constantly trying to reshuffle and lower the NESCAC (like I did the WIAC a few weeks ago), but the conference has been a cluster to hash out. Even they couldn’t do it! Five teams tied for the conference regular season title. (I now have another reason I want the NESCAC to go to a double-round-robin – or something more than a single run through.) Yes, Hamilton lost to Williams, but smoked Middlebury. I moved Midd (see below) and also needed to move some teams ahead of others. How they handled Midd is why I moved the Continentals up.
11 – Williams (+3)
I have had the Ephs all over my ballot this season. This past week, Williams beat Hamilton and lost to Amherst – who was on a Dave Hixon mission. They seem to maybe have solved the Scadlock problem – i.e. finding a solution for losing their best player. I am also seeing signs similar to last year where Kevin App was able to get the Purple Cows moving in a very good direction, so I moved them up this week. For those wondering why I didn’t move them ahead of Hamilton: when considering the bigger picture, I think Hamilton is the better team despite the one outcome. We hopefully have a second game coming next week.
Patron. Jonathan Patron. Remember that name and Plattsburgh when it comes to March. (Courtesy: Plattsburgh State Athletics)
12 – Plattsburgh State (NR)
Hello Cardinals! Yeah. Big move here. I needed a team that appears to be playing well, not losing, and at least appears to be strong. There are also gaps where some teams feel far too high where I have them slotted. Plattsburgh may be one of the better teams no one is talking about. I have been watching Plattsburgh for a couple of weeks and they are impressive. Their last loss was Dec. 8 against Brockport and they have rolled off 15-straight wins since. The biggest reason? Jonathan Patron. He didn’t play the first eight games of the season. Since his season started, he has averaged 22.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, and clearly other tangibles that have the Cardinals rolling.
13 – Eastern Conn. State (NC)
14 – Illinois Wesleyan (-6)
I realize the Titans are going through the tougher part of the CCIW schedule than Augustana – who went through the tougher stretch to start the conference schedule, however I felt after back-to-back losses (before winning against Carroll) just needed a bit of a correction. I know Wheaton played really well against IWU, but add in the Augustana result and it just felt best to make a move.
15 – Augustana (+4)
16 – Cabrini (+3)
17 – Salem State (+5)
18 – Hobart (+5)
19 – Wesleyan (+5)
In my effort to shuffle the NESCAC and bring them down my poll, the Cardinals go and win three times including the only one to beat Amherst this week. Too bad that game didn’t count for conference standings, right Williams, Hamilton, Middlebury? LOL
Marcos Echevarria may be leading Nichols in scoring, but the presence and play of Deante Bruton has been the key to the Bison’s season so far. (Courtesy: Nichols Athletics)
20 – Nichols (NR)
The Bison seem to have their mojo back. After a couple of challenging weeks, the team I think may be the most dangerous in the Northeast seems to be back to showing that.
21 – UW-Stevens Point (-1)
22 – Johns Hopkins (NR)
Incredible what the Blue Jays have done late this season, but especially this past week. When Bill Nelson retired, it wasn’t like he had left the cupboards bare for Josh Loeffler. New coach, new ideas usually takes a little while to gel. Things are going well now. Hopkins could end up being the surprise regular season champions of the Centennial Conference.
23 – Swarthmore (-6)
The Garnet were one of the two victims for JHU last week. Unfortunately for Swat, it has left the chance of winning the regular season and controlling the conference tournament in jeopardy. I like a lot of things about Swarthmore, but their inconsistencies are mind-boggling. They seem tight.
Middlebury has been up and down especially since the holiday break. (Courtesy: Middlebury Athletics)
24 – Middlebury (-19)
I have felt the Panthers have been the best team in the NESCAC, but there have been stretches this season they have been anything but the best. I am sure if Middlebury gets things put together they could go on a spectacular run, but what concerns me is when Midd is off… they are really, really off.
25 – Maryville (NC)
NC – No Change from previous ballot
NR – Not Ranked on previous ballot
+ – Movement up – number of spots – from previous ballot
– – Movement down – number of spots – from the previous ballot
Dropped Out (Previous Ranking):
The injury to Bradley Jomard appears to take the wheels off the MIT bus. (Courtesy: MIT Athletics)
The Engineers are not the same team without Bradley Jomard. He has been out for three and half games, now, due to some kind of leg injury – looked like an ankle when he got hurt against Babson. I have no idea how long Jomard is out, but I do know that this week confirmed they are not a Top 25 teams without him. He does everything for them and MIT has now lost three of four (and nearly four in a row) without him. It is too bad. MIT seemed to have something special this season.
Emory & Henry (16)
I am not sure what has happened with the Wasps (Colin Molten seems to be out; third highest scorer), but ODAC play has taken it’s toll of late. They have lost four in a row to go from undefeated in conference play to a game back of second.
I probably held on to the Warhawks a week too long. UWW is 5-6 in their last 11 and just haven’t looked like the same squad the beginning of the season showed. That said, maybe I got faked out by the smoke and mirrors. Looking back at their season, there is nothing special about Whitewater’s schedule. I’m chalking this up as a mis-reason on my part and one I will keep in mind and learn from.