Monthly Archives: March 2015

NCAA 1st Round Preview: Thomas More vs. Greensboro College

By John D’Abruzzo

TMC vs. Greensboro_0001 (1)Undefeated Thomas More (27-0) enters as the top-seed after finishing the regular season as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. The Saints are making their 13th appearance in the tournament and will be one of four undefeated teams competing for a national title.

Thomas More was selected to host this weekend’s first two rounds and will play Greensboro College (24-4), from North Carolina, on Friday night. Tipoff for this contest is set for 7 p.m at the Connor Convocation Center in Crestview Hills, Ky.

This will be the second meeting between the two programs since Thomas Moore defeated Greensboro, 76-63, in the first round of the 2007-08 NCAA tournament.

Winners of the USA South Athletic Conference champions, the Pride earned an automatic bid and are making its sixth national tournament appearance and first since 2010. Under sixth-year coach Randy Tuggle, Greensboro went 16-3 in the USASAC and enter this matchup riding an eight-game winning streak. The Pride also are averaging 71.1 points per game.

Greensboro's Tiffani Stephens

Greensboro’s Tiffani Stephens

Thomas More will have to keep and eye on Greensboro’s Tiffani Stephens. A 6-4 senior center, Stephens earned conference tournament MVP honors last week and is averaging 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. Shanita Hamilton, a 5-5 senior guard, leads the Pride in scoring this season with 13.6 points and 4.7 assists.

Sydney Moss, a star junior guard/forward, will likely play a big factor for Thomas More this weekend. Moss earned her second consecutive PAC Player of the Year Award last week and is averaging  22 points with 6.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Nikki Kieman (11.5 points) and Abby Owings (10.6) also average double figures for the Saints.

Thomas More is coming off a 75-65 victory last Saturday against Saint Vincent and secured the program’s ninth consecutive PAC championship.

Besides this game, Thomas More also will host games between Eastern Mennonite University (22-4), an at-large selection out of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, and La Roche College (22-5), which won of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. That game will be played at 5 p.m. on Friday.

The winners of those first-round games will play Saturday. Second-round winners will advance to one of four sectional sites March 13.

The national semifinals and championship games for both the men’s and women’s tournaments will be played at Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.


NCAA 1st Round Preview: St. Vincent vs. Bates College

By John D’Abruzzo

SVC vs Bates_0001 (1)The Big Dance starts this weekend and the Saint Vincent College men and Thomas More women’s teams both received their invites for the NCAA Division III championship tournaments.

In men’s action, Saint Vincent (22-6) earned the Presidents’ Athletic Conference’s automatic bid for the third-straight season after posting a 72-66 victory against Waynesburg University in last weekend’s PAC championship. The Bearcats will face Bates College from Lewiston, Maine, on Friday at Stockton University, in Galloway, N.J. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.

Bates (19-6) is making its program’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Bobcats won an at-large selection after losing in the quarterfinal round of the New England Small College Athletic Conference Tournament to eventual champion Wesleyan University.

Under sixth-year coach Jon Furbush, the Bobcats enter this game averaging 68.8 points a game. They went 7-3 in the NESCAC this season and are coming off a 66-59 loss on Feb. 21 against Wesleyan, Conn.

Graham Stafford

Bates senior guard Graham Stafford

With a mix of veterans and underclassmen, Bates College should present a well-balanced offensive attack. Graham Safford, a 6-foot-1 senior point guard, paces the Bobcats with an average of 15.2 points, 6.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds. Mike Boornazian, a 6-5 junior guard, is averaging 15.1 points and five rebounds, while 6-7 sophomore forward Marcus Delpeche follows with a steady 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. Billy Selmon, a 6-2 senior guard, also is chipping in with 7.3 points.

Saint Vincent is riding an eight-game winning streak since last losing to Waynesburg University by one point on Feb. 4. Pat Jones, Sean Kett and J.C. Howard have been Saint Vincent’s top scorers this season. Jones is averaging 13.3 points, while Kett (13 points and 7.4 rebounds) and Howard (11.8) also have been averaging double figures.

The winner of this game will face the winner of Stockton (22-5) and Endicott College (23-5) on Saturday. Second-round winners advance to the sectional round March 13.

Tomorrow we’ll preview the first round matchup between the No. 1-ranked Thomas More women and the Greensboro College Pride.


Bearcats, Saints Repeat As PAC Champions

By John D’Abruzzo

Saint Vincent College and Thomas More College prevailed last Saturday as each school defended its respective Presidents’ Athletic Conference men’s and women’s basketball championship.

The Saint Vincent men’s team captured its third-straight conference title, while the ladies from Thomas More chalked up an impressive ninth consecutive PAC crown.

SVC ChampionsHosting the men’s final at the Robert S. Carey Center in Latrobe, Pa., the Bearcats earned a 73-66 win over No. 2 Waynesburg University. They also became the first men’s team to win three straight PAC championships since Washington & Jefferson College won four consecutive titles from 1992-95. Saint Vincent (22-6) entered the championship game following wins against No. 8 Westminster in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Thomas More in the semifinals.

“We expect to win here,” Saint Vincent men’s coach D.P. Harris told the PAC Sports Network following the game. “Our coaches work very hard, and our players get after it and work every single day. Each [championship] is special.”

Senior forward Sean Kett led Saint Vincent with a team-high 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists against the Yellow Jackets. Junior guard Pat Jones followed with 14 points and six boards,while junior guard Ben Klimchock added 11 points. Junior guard Jaylon Bell also chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.

“Sean played awesome and Pat Jones hit some big shots,” Harris said. “You can’t count Benny out, either, but across the board all of our guys came through for us.”

Byrum Louco, a senior guard, paced Waynesburg (18-10) with a game-high 21 points and added eight rebounds. Senior forward Jacob Fleegle followed with 13 points. After beating No. 7 Grove City in the quarterfinals and then No. 3 Bethany in the semifinals, Waynesburg made its first championship game appearance since 2006.

Saint Vincent and Waynesburg went into halftime tied at 29. The Bearcats, however, went on a 7-2 run after five minutes into the second half and held on to that lead for the rest of the game. The championship contest also marked the third meeting between the two programs. During the regular season, Waynesburg slipped past Saint Vincent at home, 66-65, but lost on the road, 71-60.

“It’s a brotherhood here at Saint Vincent and I’m really happy for these guys,” Harris said. “[Before the game], I got 20 phone calls from former players wishing us good luck.

“It’s about family, and when you come here to play you know you’re going to win championships. That’s what we recruit on and how we sell our school. I haven’t had a kid play for me who hasn’t played in either the NCAA or NAIA tournament.”

The Bearcats advance to the NCAA Division III championship tournament, which tips off March 6.

“We need to go deeper into our bench,” Harris said. “We have to have a good scouting report on who we play and have a little more continuity in our offense.

“Defensively, we’re a really good basketball team and as good as any team in the country.”

Saints Celebrate Ninth Title

TMC ChampionsThe Thomas More women’s basketball team continued its dominance this season with a 75-65 victory last Saturday afternoon against Saint Vincent at the Connor Convocation Center in Crestview Hills, Ky. The top-seeded and undefeated Saints (27-0) captured their ninth consecutive PAC championship and also remain the No. 1 women’s NCAA Division III team.

Saint Vincent (22-5), which entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed,  jumped out to a 14-7 lead early in the game before Thomas More answered back with a 22-2 run en route to taking a 40-29 lead at the half. The Saints opened the second half with a 13-7 run and never looked back.

Sydney Moss, a star junior guard/forward, led Thomas More with 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists against the Bearcats. She scored 21 points in the first half. Freshman forward Nikki Kiernan came off the bench to add 14 points and seven rebounds.

The night before the championship game, Moss was named the PAC Player of the Year honors for the second straight season after averaging 22 points a game. She is the sixth women’s player to earn multiple PAC Player of the Year awards.

Saint Vincent was led by Taylor Mathers, a graduate forward, who scored 18 points and had seven rebounds. Senior guard Ally Schmidt also chipped in with 10 points and four rebounds.

Thomas More earned its title game appearance following a 93-42 win over No. 5 Grove City in the semifinals, while the Bearcats made their first championship appearance since the 2012 season after beating No. 3 W&J in the semifinal round.

The Saints advance into the NCAA Division III championship tournament March 6 for the seventh-straight year.