The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: The Judges’ verdict? A massive upset!

January 21, 2023

By Riley Zayas, @ZayasRiley

We’re back after a Friday night that saw some interesting results in the UAA to say the least. You just never know what to expect from these leagues that are seven and eight teams deep. This was something Scott Peterson, Dave McHugh, and I discussed on Hoopsville Thursday night. If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch that yet, there was a lot of WBB represented throughout the entire show, with the D3 WBB Top 25 panel in addition to interviews with Trinity (TX) HC Cameron Hill and Smith HC Lynn Hersey.

Now let’s get into it!

  • Well if there was one surprise of Friday night I did not see coming it was undoubtedly the shocker that took place in a gym in Watham, Massachusetts. That’s where Brandeis, previously 0-3 in UAA play, and just 5-9 overall, took down the nation’s seventh-ranked squad, #7 Rochester, by a score of 77-71. The Judges played their most complete of the season against the Yellowjackets, 13-1 entering the matchup, shooting 53.35% from the field, and outscoring Rochester in the paint, 42-36. They led by as many as 15 with five seconds left in the second quarter, and never allowed Rochester to recclaim the advantage. It seems like sometimes the most pressure on the underdog in that type of an upset situation is when a significant lead is held, because now there is a lead to defend, while knowing the opponent can erase that in the blink of an eye if only given the chance. I’m not going to make a wild claim that Brandeis will go on a tear for the rest of UAA play or anything, but I do think performances like these will help the Judges stay competitive in the league, because they now have added confidence and a sense of “we beat a Top 10 team” every time they step on the floor. Emma Reavis had a team-high 19 points for Brandeis in the win.
  • Case Western Reserve had an upset of its own, taking down a WashU team that had beaten both Chicago and NYU in the past two weeks, 74-64. WashU, who had picked up both of those marquee wins at home, struggled a bit back on the road, though it was not a contest that every got out of hand. In fact, WashU took a 19-15 lead at the end of the opening quarter, and CWRU led by just two at the half. The Spartans extended their lead to five at the end of the third, but it wasn’t until WashU went nearly three minutes without scoring and CWRU took a nine-point lead that the game ever felt out of reach. Isabella Mills was the go-to offensive weapon for the Spartans pouring in 36 points and 11 rebounds. Nobody else on the team had more than nine points in the 10-point win.
  • SUNY New Paltz came away with a key win in the regional rankings conversation, taking down Cortland in Region 3 action, 71-67. Though New Paltz shot just 36.5% compared to Cortland’s 41.9%, the Hawks were 9-of-17 from beyond the arc, which helped greatly. In fact, in almsot every stat cateogry, Cortland ended up with the advantage. But New Paltz converted at the line when it counted, and pulled out its 10th straight win, moving to 9-0 in SUNYAC play. This was a critical contest, as Cortland is the main challenger for the league title right now.

Looking ahead to today…what game’s should you be paying attention to? Here’s a couple

  • #16 UW-Eau Claire at UW-La Crosse, 4 pm EST: UWL has a lot of height in the post, but so does UWEC. If UWL can contain the outside shooting of Jessie Ruden and others, this could be a key home win for the Eagles.
  • New Jersey City at TCNJ, 1 pm EST: The NJAC is anyone’s league to win right now, and despite a very rough start, NJCU seems to be on the right track, with five straight wins. Both NJCU and TCNJ are 7-3 in league play, trailing Ramapo by just a game in the standings. For that reason, both teams will be bringing their best this afternoon.
  • Augustana at Millikin, 3 pm EST: Millikin is 8-0 in CCIW play, and at home in this one, but Augustana has been somewhat unpredictable this year. They have played plenty of tough competition, and recently beat a solid Carroll team, 67-64. I think this could be closer than a lot of people expect. But as long as Millikin wins in this one, they will stay in my ballot for Week 8.
  • UW-Stout at UW-Oshkosh, 4 pm EST: Maybe the most critical WIAC duel of the day, both of these teams have cases to be ranked, and more importantly, remain in the WIAC title fight. Even if neither wins the regular season league title, conference tournament seeding is on the line in matchups like these. Both young squads have shown improvement over the course of the year, and have come a long way since first taking the court back in November. This will be a close one, no doubt.
  • Hamilton at Amherst, 3 pm EST: This NESCAC duel could go either way, and I feel like Hamilton is right on the verge of picking up what would be considered a “notable win”. They’ve neatly beaten Baldwin-Wallace, Ithaca, and Babson, already beat Rochester and Tufts, and have a 9-7 record that doesn’t reveal how good they are. If they can take away some things from Williams, Chapman, and Concordia-Moorhead, who all recently beat Amherst, and find ways to score, this could end up as a pivotal win for Hamilton in the NESCAC race. Both Hamilton and Amherst are 2-2 in league play entering this one.

Kept it short on this Saturday morning, but hope you get the chance to watch some great basketball at some point today. There are so many contests playing out from coast-to-coast on this mid-January afternoon. In case you missed it, the Pre-Championship manual was released by the NCAA yesterday morning. I’ll link it below. Until tomorrow’s post, have a great day, God Bless.


The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: January 15, 2023: Surprises in the MIAA, WIAC, and NESCAC

By Riley Zayas

Welcome back to this Sunday morning edition of The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops. Wow, is it tough to remember the last time Hope lost to a team not named Trine. But here we are…let’s get into it and what unfolded in yesterday’s action!

  • I tend to always lead off the most surprising result of the day (in my opinion of course), and yesterday it seemed there was no bigger upset than Albion’s 69-53 win over fifth-ranked Hope. What gets me is the margin of victory…16 points! Albion has been near the top of the MIAA with a 6-1 record, but certainly wasn’t on my radar when I looked through yesterday’s slate of games. The defense was outstanding for Abion, holding Hope to just six points in the second quarter and a shooting percentage of 27.3% for the game. Hope did all it could to pull back into it as the second half progressed, but the damage had been done. Another stat that is notable is the assist numbers for both teams; Hope had just six, while Abion had 14. Albion seemed to be moving the ball better, which created higher-percentage shots as the first half progressed, allowing the Britons to gain a massive 31-18 lead at the half. I think Hope stays in the Top 10, though maybe ends up at #9 or #10. They’ll take a hit for sure in the Top 25 tomorrow.
  • But that wasn’t the only surprise yesterday. In the ever-competitive WIAC, UW-Stout took down #13 UW-Whitewater in a thriller, 72-65. It was a one-possession game for all but the final minute of the fourth quarter, and turned out to be perhaps the most competitive game of the afternoon. Stout came up with points on the offensive end time and time again, as the opponents exchanged scores. Stout raced out of the gates in their most impressive quarter, taking a 21-10 lead after the first. Whitewater outscored the Blue Devils by five in each of the next two quarters, before Stout pulled it out in the fourth. I was most impressed by the level of intensity shown from Stout, as there was no panic, and only confidence coming from that entire sideline, even as Whitewater hung in the game, taking the lead midway through the final quarter. The final team stats were relatively even, and Whitewater even shot 92% at the FT line. But Stout came up with a few more shots and a handful of key stops in the final minutes, not to mention going 6-for-6 at the FT line in the final minute. Miss one or two of those and it could’ve been a completely different result with the number of shooters the Warhawks have. Amanda Giesen was fantastic for Stout, scoring 19 points.
  • Sticking with the topic of the WIAC, UW-Oshkosh pulled out a massive 61-53 win over UW-La Crosse, a team I voted at #25 in this past week’s poll. I was responsible for 7 of UWO’s 10 points received in the poll (I had them at #19), and this is why. Though the sub-.500 WIAC record has turned some people off, I believe UWO is just as battle-tested as anyone in the conference (maybe minus Whitewater), and yesterday displayed that, with the Titans fending off the Eagles, even when the lead got down to three midway through the fourth. Oshkosh was so balanced offensively, and the three-point shooting made up for any size disadvantage in the post. UWO was 10-of-26 from beyond the arc, while UWL won the rebounding battle, 31-23. We’ll see where both go from here. Oshkosh, believe it or not, is likely still in the Pool C conversation, but every game is key at this point. UWO travels to UWSP on Wednesday while UWL hosts UWRF.
  • Yesterday I focused a lot on the NESCAC…and I can’t help but bring up the NESCAC again. Because two of the league’s three undefeated teams fell on Saturday, leaving Trinity (CT) alone atop the standings.
  •      Middlebury, after shocking Amherst and Bowdoin in consecutive games, fell by four, 63-59, at Colby, a sub-.500 team. Colby was much better offensively, and frankly, I wonder if Middlebury was just tired from having run up and down with Bowdoin less than 24 hours before. That NESCAC schedule can be rough on your stamina, especially when you have a small rotation.
  •     Tufts was the other one to fall, previously 2-0 in the league, as Hamilton, a team I’ve been high on for a good part of this season, won 59-43. Talk about stamina. Hamilton beat Bates in OT Friday, then came back with a huge home win yesterday. Hamilton is in the midst of one of the toughest stretches of the season for any team in the nation, having played at Ithaca, at Middlebury, at Williams, vs Smith before this weekend. And the Continentals travel to Babson tomorrow. Hamilton dominated Tufts defensively, holding Tufts before 10 points in each of the first two quarters, and Maggie Russell to just six points. Four Hamilton players finished above 10 points in scoring, but the key was getting it done on the defensive end. Hamilton has played so many high quality offenses already that the Continentals were already well prepared for the offensive threat Tufts posed.
  • S/O to my #1, Trinity (TX), who set a program record for points in a quarter, beating Southwestern, 125-89, in Georgetown. Yes, the game was over before it even began as the Tigers put 42 on the board in the opening quarter, shooting 69.6% from the field. Trinity connected on 20 three-pointers, and continues to be a very impressive shooting team. The Tigers are so deep, and play incredibly hard. The national championship game is in Dallas this year, just sayin’…it’d be pretty cool for an in-state team to make it, as Wabash did making the men’s final four last year.
  • Also, S/O to Luther, who could very well be one of those “deep dive” teams we typically talk about on Hoopsville. Sure, the Norse probably won’t end up ranked, but after beating Loras, are certainly in the A-R-C title race at this point. The blowout losses to Simpson and Gustavus Adolphus don’t look great, but they played Stout close early in the year, and have beaten both UW-Platteville and Loras. Luther pulled out an 94-89 double-overtime win in an offensive-dominated duel. Each team had a 32-point scorer, with Kailey Jones putting 32 on the board for Luther, and Kelsea Hurley scoring 32 for Central. Both teams shot above 40% and Jones’ jumper made it a three-point game with 24 seconds left. After missing on the other end, Central was forced to foul and that just about sealed the win for Luther, now 5-2 in the A-R-C.
  • Schreiner won its fourth straight game on the road on Saturday, beating Texas Lutheran in a tight one, 78-71. I’ve said it before, but Schreiner has something special going, and while nobody in the SCAC is competing to the level Trinity is right now, Schreiner is an up-and-coming team that could get the SCAC two tournament bids, maybe not this year, but next. DeMauria Miles had one of the best offensive performances of the day, putting 33 points on the board on 11-of-20 shooting. Also pay attention to TLU. They gave Trinity a bit of a run in the second half of Friday’s game. Another up-and-coming program that isn’t quite there, but on its way.

Alright, going to shift my attention to the UAA and my Top 25 ballot, which I hope to have out much earlier tomorrow than I did last week (we’ll see…). I can tell you Trinity (TX) will stay as my #1 (I know, no big surprise there), but after that, it will be interesting. Until tomorrow’s post, have a great rest of your weekend, enjoy the NFL playoffs, and God Bless.


The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: My Top 25 ballot…with context

January 10, 2023

By Riley Zayas, @ZayasRiley

Back with another ballot breakdown…this time for Week 6 after a wild week in D3 women’s hoops! Here is how I’m seeing the Top 25 right now…

Trinity (TX): I went back on forth with whether to keep the Tigers #1 or put NYU back in the top spot, but at the end of the day, Trinity’s resume remains stronger at this point in my opinion, with four Massey Top 70 wins compared to just two for NYU. Not to mention, the experience and depth Trinity has continues to make them a very dangerous matchup for any opponent.

NYU: The Violets are still very close to Trinity in a lot of ways, and there’s not a clear No. 1 at this point. Still, Trinity has more quality wins based on Massey’s ratings, and just going on the eye test, I think the Tigers are the better team right now. Will they be next week? Who knows…but right now, that’s how I’m seeing it. NYU has looked good in its key games against Bowdoin and Tufts and there is a very likely chance the Violets will stay No. 1 in the poll this week.

Christopher Newport: I’m sure you’ll be able to find video of this somewhere (or even just on demand on the W&L website), but CNU’s game against W&L yesterday went into double OT with the Captains winning 104-102. But after the first OT it seemed the game was all but over, as CNU went up 93-91 in the final seconds, but a technical foul AFTER the final buzzer against the CNU bench kept W&L alive. Hanna Malik hit back-to-back free throws with no time on the clock, sending it into a second OT. It was one of the more thrilling finishes of the weekend, no doubt. That said, W&L did expose some areas, and because W&L was careful with the ball, it limited CNU’s opportunities to generate turnovers. That will be something to keep an eye on moving forwards.

Transylvania: The defense continues to reign supreme for the Pioneers, who held Defiance to just 40 points on Saturday. Transy has allowed 50 points or more in just two of its 14 games this season. That’s enough for me to slide them up two spots.

Hope: Hope looked good on the road against Olivet and Alma, though neither opponent has more than four wins this season. The Flying Dutch are 13-1, on a four-game win streak, and though Carlee Crabtree is no longer on the roster, freshman Sydney Vis has really stepped up, with 11 points against Olivet. Karsen Karlblom is another freshman who has seen some more minutes as of late.

Scranton: The Lady Royals continue to impress me under the leadership of new head coach Ben O’Brien, winning by 10 on the road at Catholic, who is 10-3, on Saturday. Though Scranton hasn’t played the toughest schedule out there, the Lady Royals have risen to the challenge every time they’ve been faced with a top-quality opponent (ex. Ithaca, Catholic, Wartburg).

Smith: Springfield might not be in its top form right now, having lost two of its last three, but still, for Smith to win against Springfield by 14 on Saturday is an impressive result to me. Watching that one live, I liked how well Smith attacked the boards with 11 offensive rebounds. This is a team that seems to have made great strides over the course of the year, starting out with some unconvincing wins but is playing at a high level right now, on a six-game win streak.

Baldwin-Wallace: BW drops down in my ballot a little bit, after narrowly surviving an overtime upset bid from Mount Union earlier in the week. The Yellowjackets are still 13-0, and have some notable victories, but have now been taken down to the wire twice in the last two weeks against Hamilton and Mount Union. This is a clear Top 10 team, and the margin between Smith and BW seems very thin.

DeSales: DeSales is another undefeated team in my top 10, at 13-0, though I haven’t seen them challenged much yet, which makes it hard to rank them. Their last two results have been 82-18 and 72-30. Talk about playing in one-sided games…

UW-Whitewater: To go to UW-Eau Claire and win with points to spare is very impressive to me, considering the Warhawks barely beat UW-Stevens Point this past Wednesday at home. Having a positive mentality on the road is so key, as Whitewater has now won at UC Santa Cruz and UW-Eau Claire in two quality victories. The defense from UWW was very good against the WIAC’s top shooting team, and puts them back in my top 10.

UW-Eau Claire: Whitewater is now the higher-ranked of the two WIAC teams in my ballot, but not by much. UWEC and UWW have very similar resumes now, though UWEC’s loss on Saturday doesn’t drop the Blugolds a whole lot in my ranking. Keep in mind they still have wins over Trine, Wartburg and UW-La Crosse.

Trine: The Thunder took care of business against St. Mary’s this past week, in a dominant 86-52 win. Their resume remains solid, highlighted by the victory at Hope last month, and I now have three three-loss teams in a row.

Rochester: I really like the 75-66 win at Emory, which came on Saturday. We saw how tough it was to play in Atlanta after Tufts fell to the Eagles by 15 a month ago, and Rochester is now 11-1 after winning there. Katie Titus is on pace to become the nation’s leading scorer, with another 20-plus point performance (26).

Babson: Babson gets bumped up three spots in my ballot after finding a way to down Tufts in a wild finish on the road Sunday. It was quite a game, and came down to the final shot, as the Beavers are now 11-1, having responded well to the Loras loss a couple weeks ago. The 60-51 win on Dec. 30 over Middlebury looks pretty good now after Middlebury beat Amherst on Saturday.

Chicago: WashU, despite battling some injuries, shocked Chicago in St. Louis on Saturday with perhaps the upset of the day. It is the Maroons’ first loss of the year, and I’m only dropping them three spots, despite falling to an unranked opponent (I’m confident there will be voters dropping them five or six spots). Had they played a tougher non-conference slate, the slide may not have been as great as it likely will be, but they also have a big-time win over Whitewater, that remains their only Massey Top 50 victory.

Trinity (CT): I should’ve ranked Trinity last week…there’s no other way to say it. The Bantams were #26 for me last week, but have now jumped into the middle of my ballot. At 13-1, Trinity is one of just two NESCAC teams who are 2-0 in conference play, having edged Bowdoin in a Top 25 matchup on Saturday, 49-43, in an incredible defensive effort.

Puget Sound: PS drops one spot, after struggling majorly in the first half against Willamette, but it was more due to Trinity’s big win over Bowdoin than anything the Loggers did. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from PS throughout the last four weeks or so, and have been impressed by the offensive depth on the roster, with several players who can easily go for 15 or 20 points on any given night.

Ohio Northern: ONU is 12-1, and hasn’t lost since Nov. 22. But it’s not all about just the results. Those are a factor, but not the only factor. Watching ONU live, I really like the grit on the defensive end seen from the Polar Bears. An overtime win over Otterbein was closer than I’d anticipated earlier this week. Once again, it is really hard to win on the road.

UW-Oshkosh: The Titans are another team that goes from unranked to in my Top 20. That’s what happens when you have the amount of parity we have in the division this season, and that’s a good problem for voters to have! Oshkosh has six Top 70 Massey wins right now, a statement only two other programs (UW-Eau Claire and Loras) can make. With a young roster, the Titans started out with a few tough defeats, but have weathered the storm and emerged on the other side, as much in the WIAC title race as anyone.

Hardin-Simmons: The Cowgirls took down McMurry this weekend in a crosstown showdown between the only two schools in the ASC located in the same city. HSU’s offense has been solid throughout its non-conference schedule and into ASC play, at 75.6 PPG and 44.6% shooting from the field (both No. 1 in the ASC). They still have the two losses to Trinity, but have won all the rest. They embark on a five-game road trip over the next three weeks, which will certainly test them.

Loras: After jumping into the Top 20 after being unranked for the entire year last week, the Duhawks dropped their next game to Luther, in a surprising upset. Again, it’s tough to win on the road, no matter who you are. Loras has a super impressive resume, and that game was one of the only times I’ve seen the Duhawks play poorly. They fell back just two spots, and it was more because of Oshkosh moving into my ballot than anything else.

Mary Hardin-Baylor: Another road test…another close result. That’s becoming the theme as I write this ballot breakdown. The Cru trailed by three at UT-Dallas on Saturday with three minutes left, but went on a 7-0 run to close it out, winning 53-49. The defensive effort was top-notch and though they did not score much, UMHB is improving as a collective unit coming off those two losses in San Antonio just before Christmas. We may look back and see that as the turning point of the year come March.

Millikin: Millkin was a team I voted for Week 1 and like Oshkosh, quickly fell out of my ballot. But the Big Blue is back in. Bailey Coffman has recovered from her jaw injury and is contributing off the bench at this point, scoring in double figures despite limited minutes as she works back into the rotation. Coffman, along with Elyse Knudsen, form a 1-2 punch that could end up winning Millikin the CCIW title. Millikin is 11-3, 3-0 in CCIW play at this point. The rough start is far in the rearview mirror for Olivia Lett’s squad.

Gustavus Adolphus: Losing to Bethel, 70-66, hurts the Gusties a fair amount in my ballot, especially as other teams continue to add quality wins. But Gusty is my favorite to win the MIAC title, and somewhat of a dark horse in my opinion. They don’t have any “earth-shattering” victories, but no bad losses either.

UW-La Crosse: This final spot came down to two WIAC programs with very similar resumes: UWL or UW-Stout. At the end of the day, I’m taking UWL, a program that has won its last five. Watching them play, the Eagles can win a bunch of different ways, which is very valuable in a team; they played fast at Chapman and won 74-48, this past Saturday, a defensive battle played out at Stevens Point, and they won 47-45. The defense is very good too, as the only WIAC team with over 100 blocked shots this season and the only team in the league allowing under 50 points per game (49.6).

Going beyond the ballot…here’s who my next five would be




UC Santa Cruz


Bottom line:

-Trinity (TX) stays No. 1 for the third straight week (second with an official ballot)

-Newcomers are: Millikin, UW-Oshkosh, Trinity (CT), UW-La Crosse

-Dropped out: Springfield, UC Santa Cruz, Amherst, Tufts

-Trinity (CT) makes the biggest jump, going from unranked to #16

-Oshkosh also goes from unranked to #19

-Whitewater has reentered the Top 10


The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: WashU shocks Chicago, Whitewater wins big, in fast-paced day of action

January 8, 2023

By Riley Zayas

Wow. What a day it was in the world of D-III women’s hoops yesterday. It was incredible to see so much of so many different things in these games, down to the upsets, the comebacks, the Top 25 duels in Connecticut and Wisconsin. It all formed a great slate of games that truly displayed just how deep D-III women’s basketball is right now, with so many competitive programs. I’ve broken this down into a few categories as I put down my thoughts on the way these played out…

  • The Upsets
    If you’re looking for a result that rocked the D-III WBB world on Saturday, you’d best look towards St. Louis. That’s where WashU, a team that was destroyed by UW-Oshkosh, 78-42, four days after Christmas shocked #10 Chicago. And it wasn’t by some narrow margin either. The Bears were hands down the best team on the floor, winning 68-49 as four starters scored in double figures. It was a three-point game at the end of the first quarter, but Chicago just could not find any sort of consistent rhythm in each of the next three, scoring just 11 points in each. I was impressed by how well WashU defended; the Bears did not force all that many turnovers (11), but played solid perimeter defense and forced the Maroons into a lot of midrange shots, rather than driving to the rim. Just five offensive rebounds for Chicago did not help much either. WashU has NYU coming up on Jan. 15 at home…the Violets better be careful.
  • Amherst has been struggling in a big way as of late, and on Saturday, Middlebury proved it had enough to take down the 15th-ranked Mammoths, handing them their third loss in five games. This isn’t what we’re used to seeing from Amherst, but perhaps the rest of the NESCAC is just getting better. And as far as the previous losses to Concordia-Moorhead and Chapman, blame it on the long travel, the holidays or something else, but the bottom line is that Amherst is not playing its best basketball right now. It happens. But you have to credit Middlebury at the same time for pulling off back-to-back wins that look really good on a tournament resume against Hamilton and now Amherst. The 47-45 win for Middlebury came down to the wire, with Gabby Stuart putting Middlebury in front on a jumper with 29 seconds left. Alexa Mustafaj came up with a game-sealing steal for the Panthers as they moved to 9-5, but more importantly, 2-0 in the NESCAC play. Amherst won’t be in my Top 20 come Monday.
  • The third big “upset” came in the far reaches of west Texas, where Sul Ross State took down an ETBU team that was on an upward trajectory. The Tigers of ETBU had wins over UMHB and UC Santa Cruz, and were receiving votes in last week’s Top 25. But SRSU, with its full-court press dominated in the second quarter, going on a 26-7 run. I don’t think I saw a shift in momentum quite as sudden as I saw it in Alpine, with ETBU leading 21-13 at the end of the first quarter, but trailing 39-28 at halftime. Marley Rokas is a name to remember as the 5’11 forward nearly had a double-double for SRSU with 20 points and nine rebounds. Having seen her play in person this year, I can tell you that she will be tough matchup for any opponent with her shooting ability and skill around the perimeter while still being one of the tallest players in the post.
  • The close calls
    A NESCAC-esque game unfolded in Dallas, where #24 UMHB was taken down to the wire against UT-Dallas. UTD first-year head coach Joe Shotland has done a great job working with what he has and creating a really solid defensive team. They challenged UMHB majorly, leading 49-46 with three minutes left. But you have to score down the stretch, and going the final 6:16 without a made field goal will certainly hurt you. UMHB put together a really solid effort defensively down the stretch, and pulled out a 53-49 win. It was the lowest-scoring day for UMHB this season.
  • #21 Puget Sound actually trailed 39-25 to Willamette at the half, but used a 25-12 run in the third-quarter to claim the lead and pull out an 81-75 win. But wow, did Willamette challenge the Loggers. They outrebounded PS 37-29, shot 51.9% and had 19 assists. That will win you the game in a lot of situations, but 26 turnovers really hurt Willamette, especially in the second half, when PS began its comeback.
  • Dickinson went down 19-3 against Washington College in Centennial Conference play, and after seeing Dickinson pull off a big win over Johns Hopkins earlier this week, I was surprised to see a start like that. Washington has been decent (8-4 overall, 4-3 in the CC), but not great, and Dickinson had looked pretty convincing in that previously-mentioned victory over JHU. Credit to Dickinson, they began a comeback, culminating in a 22-9 run to end the game in a 56-54 win. That was the comeback of the day, no doubt. Very impressive, but at the same time, talk about digging yourself into a hole early on the road…
  • The games that rose to the level of expectation
    I put a couple games in this category, and I understand this is completely subjective. But you could not watch the battle between #22 Trinity (CT) and #25 Bowdoin and not be on the edge of your seat. Especially because Trinity’s comeback in the fourth-quarter certainly rivals what Dickinson did further down the east coast. Because Bowdoin entered the fourth up 41-31, but Trinity outscored the Polar Bears 18-2, holding Bowdoin to yes, just two points, in the final 10 minutes. That is championship defense right there. Bowdoin did not score for the first four minutes of the quarter, and by the time we’d reached the 7:17 mark, Trinity had put together an 8-0 run, cutting the deficit to just two points. From that point on, the defensive intensity continued picking up, resulting in very few made shots. With 3:31 left, Reilly Campbell’s layup fell through for Trinity, putting the Bantams in front, 45-43. They held on for a 49-43 win, and should break into the Top 20 on Monday. Looking at the box score, it’s interesting how even the two teams were. Nobody seemed to dominate in any particular category. But four three-pointers from Trinity, compared to just two for Bowdoin probably was a big difference in a game with such a small margin. Take away the threes and both teams made exactly 13 shots from the field.
  • The other HUGE game of the day was played in the WIAC (because…where else?) as #17 UW-Whitewater went to #9 UW-Eau Claire and took down the Blugolds on their home court, 79-69. I wouldn’t call this an upset, though. Whitewater has taken some losses, sure, but has nine wins over Massey Top 70 opponents. The second-most? Six. Whitewater is, if nothing else, battle-tested, and it showed at UWEC. A 22-11 third-quarter from the Warhawks put them in front, at one point by 15. Aleah Grundahl played all but one minute for Whitewater, putting 27 points on the board in an All-American-type performance. Kacie Carollo had 19 points, 10 boards for Whitewater as well, as the starting five accounted for all but two of its 79 points. If you remember, yesterday morning I said the matchup that would likely determine the outcome would be Whitewater’s defense against the potent offense of UWEC. The Warhawks rose to the test, despite having looked somewhat off against UWSP on Wednesday. They took away a lot of three-point looks for UWEC, which somewhat disrupted the Blugolds’ offense. They still shot 48.3%, but they were not scoring to the level they had been in previous wins over Trine and UW-Oshkosh. This is a key result for Whitewater. They really needed this win, especially on the road, and should see a significant bump in their national ranking come Monday.
  • Other notables…
  • #3 Transylvania won comfortably at Defiance, 70-40, moving to 14-0. It marked the 12th game of the year that the Pioneers’ defense has held its opponent below 50 points.
  • Wheaton had been off to a solid start, including a win at Puget Sound, but Millikin was the best team on the floor in a key CCIW battle yesterday, winning 74-55. I didn’t expect the margin to be that wide, but have certainly liked what I’ve seen from Millikin as of late. This is a team that is now 11-3, 3-0 in the CCIW. Bailey Coffman came off the bench for 15 points in 16 minutes. Imagine what she’ll be able to do when she’s back to playing 25 minutes a game?
  • UW-La Crosse continues to be a team that is going under the radar, but putting together a fairly strong resume. UWL is 13-2, and beat a good UW-Stevens Point that nearly won at Whitewater this past Wednesday, 47-45. It literally came down to the final shot, a missed three from UWSP, and was very close all the way through. Really solid effort from both teams on the defensive end, making the opponent work for every shot.
  • Concordia-Moorhead and Bethel both took losses in games I was expecting they would win, and while this highlights the fact that there is quite a bit of parity in the MIAC, it also probably means that this will be a one-bid league. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on performing well in the MIAC playoffs and staying healthy over the course of the next two months in order to be at full strength for post-conference play. Right now, this is a wide-open league.
  • Concordia (WI) handed Concordia-Chicago its first loss in NACC play, and I was pretty surprised it was not a closer result. 76-55 was the final, and despite Kate Benes’ 27 points for Chicago, Concordia (WI) was 11-of-19 from beyond the arc. When you shoot that well from three-point range, you’re likely going to win the ballgame.

Okay, I’m going to stop there, but this slate was so packed with key results and great games all the way around that this article went pretty long, even just touching on several of the most notable games. I have a feeling the Top 25 will look pretty different when it is released tomorrow evening. As for today, the game you’ll want to be watching tips off at 1 p.m. EST between #14 Babson and #23 Tufts. Quality non-conference action for you in January! A loss for Tufts probably drops them out of the Top 25. Have a great Sunday and be sure to come back tomorrow for my Top 25 ballot breakdown!



The Scoop on D3 Women’s Hoops: NESCAC tips off+ A few “upset watch” games on the Saturday slate

January 7, 2023

By Riley Zayas

The NESCAC always delivers. Conference play opened for one of the nation’s best leagues on Friday night, and though Trinity, Bowdoin, and Tufts all won by double-digit margins, the battle between #15 Amherst and Williams certainly was the sort of #NESCACtion we are used to.

  • Amherst survived, but only narrowly, winning 60-57, after having dropped two of their previous three. Honestly, Williams was very impressive in my opinion, and led 31-30 at the half. Credit Amherst for an improved second-half defensive effort, because in the first two quarters, Williams kept finding open shots, particularly from beyond the arc and near the baselines. Neither head coach went to the bench much at all. In fact, AnLing Vera and Kori Barach played a full 40 minutes for Amherst, and Devin Biesbrock was in for all 40 for Williams. Amherst played just six, Williams, seven. In many ways, it was like a chess match back and forth, with Williams head coach Pat Manning and Amherst’s J.P. Gromacki both known as exceptional strategists. To me, the pivotal point came with under 30 seconds left, as Williams had the ball, trailing by two, but turned it over. Amherst made its free throws, going up by four, and though Williams hit a three and actually had a chance to tie it with five seconds left, it felt like the momentum Amherst gained off of that turnover was enough for the Mammoths to pull it out. Still, I was super impressed by what I saw from Williams.
  • The other notable NESCAC duel (and really the only other nationally-relevant score that wasn’t a one-sided result) was Middlebury’s 64-56 win over Hamilton. Those of you who have read me throughout this year know that I really like the product Hamilton has been putting on the floor, especially with a young group. I think they have a chance to make some noise after watching how closely they played Baldwin-Wallac, Ithaca, Rochester, just to name a few. But Middlebury proved to be the better team last night, shooting 41% compared to Hamilton’s 28%. The fact that Hamilton was 19-of-66 from the field and 2-of-18 from beyond the arc, and still was in contention in the game’s final minutes is crazy. Typically, especially after trailing by 18 at the half, a team will not get much closer. But with 3:36 left, it was a five-point game, a testament to Hamilton’s resilience. That said, Middlebury’s first half was nothing short of remarkable, as the Panthers were successful in virtually every facet of the contest. Solid, consistent, halfcourt defense can take you a long way.

Those were couple of games that caught my eye But the slate I woke up this morning thinking about was the one set for today. As of yesterday, Scott Peterson (check out his analytical work on D3 WBB here) had 24 games for today where the average Massey rating of the opponent was less than 80. Here are a few how of my thoughts on those highly-anticipated showdowns…

  • There are several contenders for the “Game of the Day”, but I really want to see how the matchup between #25 Bowdoin and #22 Trinity (CT) turns out. At this point, these might be the two best teams in the NESCAC. Trinity is so good at getting the ball into Reilly Campbell and others in the post, which has led to a league-leading field goal percentage of 44.5%. Bowdoin isn’t far behind at 40.8%. Where Bowdoin really hurt Springfield, in my opinion, was when shots started falling from beyond the arc. Bowdoin shoots a conference-best 33.6% from three-point range, and they will need to take advantage of that to win on the road today. Also notable, these are two top rebounding teams in the league, so the battle on the boards will be one you’ll want to be paying attention to. 3 pm EST tip…watch here:
  • Once the final buzzer sounds in Connecticut, you will have a few minutes before the final “big game” of the night starts in Wisconsin. #17 UW-Whitewater travels to #9 UW-Eau Claire in a highly-anticipated WIAC battle. The WIAC is so deep that it would be an exaggeration to say this is the conference regular season title on the line, but…it will still play a role in who gets ranked ahead of who in the regional rankings, and for Whitewater, a team with a few more losses on its resume than UWEC, winning here would be huge. Right now, UWEC has the best offense in the WIAC to go along with the No. 8 defense in a conference of eight teams. Whitewater hasn’t been great defensively either, but has converted shots at a consistent rate. I’d like to see a better performance from the Warhawks than what we saw against UWSP on Wednesday, and it is going to take a top-level defensive performance to slow Jessie Ruden and this Blugold offense. The game will probably hinge on that matchup.
  • UAA play begins today, and two great matchups are in the schedule. Both would be games in which I can see a clear favorite, but would not rule an upset out of the question to any degree. #10 Chicago visits WashU and #12 Rochester goes to Emory. Regardless of how good you are, as we saw on Wednesday of this week, winning conference games on the road is tough. Earlier this week, there were seven Massey teams who entered their games ahead of the opponent by at least 100 spots in Massey ratings, but ended up winning by only seven points or less. All were playing on the road. For Emory and Rochester, Claire Brock cannot carry the weight of having to “be” Emory’s offense. By this point, teams are keying in on her, and it’s good to see some other shooters stepping up around her. The Eagles will have to stop Katie Titus in the paint, which is not an easy task. I see a high-scoring duel playing out in Atlanta. Chicago will not have it easy either, because of the way WashU matches up with teams in the post. Maya Arnott and Nailah McBeth are forces for the Bears on both ends of the floor, which may mean Chicago shoots more threes in this game than its average. I see at least one of these being decided by single digits.
  • And speaking of going on the road, after the way Williams played Amherst so closely last night, I’ll be interested to see how the Mammoths fair against a talented Middlebury team on the road for the second straight day. As I mentioned, Middlebury played Babson tough last week and beat a talented Hamilton team last night. An upset is not out of the question here either, especially if Alexa Mustafaj can parlay here 21-point performance into another strong showing this afternoon.
  • If you’re looking for more of an under-the-radar matchup, tune into the battle of the Concordias in NACC action. Concordia (WI) visits Concordia-Chicago in what could be a pretty interesting duel. Concordia-Chicago, led by Kate Benes (25.5 PPG) is 6-0 in league play, and Concordia (WI), a longtime power in the conference, is 4-2. Still, don’t count Concordia (WI) out here. The first meeting between these two was won by Chicago, 67-63. And Benes is on track to be an All-America selection, which is reason enough to watch for a least a few minutes, with a 5:15 p.m. EST tip. She shoots the ball so well and is versatile as a guard; it’s incredible to watch.

I’m going to stop there, but be sure to head over to’s scoreboard for all the latest updates. Follow me on Twitter as well (@ZayasRiley). I’ll do my best to tweet score updates and notables as the day progresses. And of course, I’ll recap my thoughts on today in a post tomorrow so come back for that! Have a great day! God Bless.