2014 NCAA First and Second Round Preview
Contact: Mike O'Brien
ONEONTA, N.Y. - The eighth-ranked Amherst women’s basketball team returns to the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship for the seventh consecutive season and will face Springfield College Friday, Mar. 7 at 5 p.m. at Lambros Arena, hosted by Hartwick College.
First Round (Friday, Mar. 7)
5 p.m. - Amherst College vs. Springfield College
7 p.m. - Hartwick College vs. Baruch College
Second Round (Saturday, Nov. 8)
6 p.m. - Winners of Friday’s games
LIVE COVERAGE: A live webcast and live stats will be provided for all three games.
TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets for both days will be $6 for adults and $3 for students. Children under the age of five receive free admission.
SCOUTING AMHERST (24-3)
Earning a trip to their seventh consecutive NESCAC title, the second-seeded Jeffs fell short of its fifth straight championship with a defeat to top-seeded Tufts, 62-46. The Jeffs booked a trip to the league semifinal with a lopsided 78-33 victory over No. 7 Hamilton in the quarterfinals. Amherst knocked down a season-high 15 three pointers, while holding the Continentals to 22.9 percent (11-of-48) shooting and a 12.5 percent (2-of-16) clip from long distance. The following weekend, the Jeffs edged third-seeded Bowdoin, 45-42. With 33 seconds remaining, Savannah Holness ’15 rebounded a miss and put it back to break the tie and give the Purple & White a 44-42 advantage as Ali Doswell ’17 tacked on a foul shot in the closing seconds.
The Jeffs young squad has relied on a talented Class of 2017 all season, with three first-years starting at least 22 of the team’s 27 games. Ali Doswell leads the bunch and was recently named NESCAC Rookie of the Year, becoming the fifth Jeff to earn such praise and first since Megan Robertson ’15 did in 2012. The first-year guard ranks third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.8 points per game, and is the team’s leading three-point shooter with 60 buckets from downtown. The Richmond, Va. native is hitting 34.9 percent from behind-the-arc and 72.4 percent from the foul line. She also ranks third on the team in assists (58) and third in rebounding (6.1 rpg).
Her twin sister Meredith Doswell ’17 has been a solid contributor to Amherst’s success as well and averages 5.9 ppg and 4.0 rpg. In her first-ever NESCAC Championship game, the first-year forward scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The backcourt due of Hannah Peterson ’17 and Jaimie Renner ’17 average 29.0 and 28.6 minutes per game and have both started 24 of the team’s 27 contests. Peterson is averaging 8.3 points per game and has 51 three-pointers, second most among Jeffs. Renner averages 9.0 points and dishes out 2.48 assists per game while hitting 76.2 (77-of-101) percent from the charity stripe.
Without perennial all-conference selection Robertson since Jan. 17 against Tufts, the Jeffs most experienced group is the sophomore class trio of Cheyenne Pritchard, Marley Giddins and Haley Zwecker. Pritchard, a co-captain, has started 26 games to lead the Jeffs and has been a consistent contributor all season. The sophomore averages 7.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Providing the Jeffs with a spark off the bench, Giddins ranks second on the squad in scoring, averaging 11.2 points per game, while connecting on 56.4 percent of her shots and grabbing 7.4 rebounds. Zwecker leads the team in assists as a reserve guard (2.5 apg), while also hitting 48.0 percent of her three-point attempts.
SCOUTING SPRINGFIELD (17-11)
Entering the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship as the No. 6 seed with a 10-10 conference record, the Pride swept the top-three seeds in the tournament including a 51-43 win over No. 1 Smith in the title game to earn the automatic berth. Springfield returns to the NCAA Championship for the first time since the 2006 season. They are 5-5 all-time in six appearances at the national postseason tournament.
After posting a 4-20 record during the 2012-13 season, the Pride recorded one of the best turnarounds in the country this year and are 17-11 entering Friday’s game. Opening the season 2-3, Springfield rattled off seven consecutive victories. Entering as the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, the Pride became the lowest seed to ever win a NEWMAC title.
The young squad features just four upperclassmen (one senior), five sophomores and six first-years. They are led by junior forward Jaimie Bickelhaupt who averages team-highs in points (13.1 per game) and rebounds (8.6 per game) and has 13 double-doubles on the season. As a team, they average 57.7 points per game and allow 54.2. They are 2-0 in neutral site contests this year.
SCOUTING HARTWICK (21-5)
Earning hosting responsibilities for the first time since 1997 are the Hartwick Hawks from the Empire 8 Athletic Conference. The Hawks earned an at-large bid with a 21-5 overall record and make their ninth tournament appearance in program history, first since 2012. They are 3-8 all-time in the NCAA Championship but haven’t won a tournament game since the 1991 season.
Closing out the regular season with seven straight wins, Hartwick fell short in the conference semifinals to Stevens Institute of Technology, 53-52. The team is 9-2 at home this year and is led by Brittney Dumas ’16 and Maria Foglia ’14. Dumas averages a double-double, leading the team in scoring (15.7 ppg) and rebounding (10.4 rpg). She also has a team-high 24 blocks. Foglia joins her as the only other Hawk in double-digit points, averaging 14.8 per game. She is also the team’s three-point leader with 50 on the year, hitting 37.9 percent of her shots from downtown, and leads the squad in assists (2.9 apg).
Head coach Missy West was named the Empire 8 Coach of the Year following a terrific regular season in which Hartwick won 20-plus games for the third straight season. The 21 wins are tied for fifth most in program history and are three shy of an all-time program record. Winning on average of 13.9 points per game, the Hawks average 66.7 points and allow 52.8.
SCOUTING BARUCH (21-7)
Earning the automatic berth from the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) for the seventh consecutive season is Baruch College. The Bearcats defeated Hunter College 70-54 in the CUNYAC championship to return to the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in program history. However, Baruch is just 2-7 in nine postseason games. Entering Friday’s contest, the Bearcats have won six straight and are 4-1 in neutral site games this year.
A well-balanced attack features three players averaging double-digits. Leading the way is Sheridan Taylor ’15 with 11.2 points per game followed by Iyana Abrams ’15 with 10.6 and Alicea Ulmer ’15 with 10.5. Taylor also leads the team in rebounding and blocking, averaging 11.3 rebounds per game and 1.2 blocks per game. Abrams leads the backcourt in assists and steals, averaging 3.9 and 3.0 per game, respectively.
Baruch’s average margin of victory is 14.5 points per game. They score 69.5 points per game and are outrebounding opponents 50.4 rebounds to 40.7 per game. The Bearcats are prone to turnovers, averaging 17.6 per contest, but they make up for it on the defensive end by forcing 22.0 per game.