Basketball: Both Williams teams to play at home
When the Williams College men's basketball team walked off the Chandler Gym floor Saturday night after winning its first-round NCAA Division III Tournament game, the Ephs didn't know if they would be back.
Less than 24 hours later, the Ephs found out they would get at least one more game on their home floor - something the Williams women also found out would happen.
Both Williams teams will host Division III play this weekend. The Williams men will play Catholic University in a second-round game on Saturday at a time to be determined.
The women, meanwhile, will host what could be called the Williams Regional, as three teams will travel to Williamstown. The Ephs will play Ithaca in Friday's Sweet 16 game. The second game of the doubleheader features Whitman and Emory. The winners will play Saturday.
The times for the games Friday and Saturday have not yet been set.
The winners of the women's games will advance to the Division III Final Four in Holland, Mich., the weekend of March 15.
In the post-game press conference following Williams' 79-78 win over Wesley in a men's first-round game, Williams coach Mike Maker said that his team has played its NCAA games in only two places - Chandler
and the Salem (Va.) Civic Center.
"It was certainly fantastic to get a win, not knowing where we might be," said senior guard James Klemm. "When it comes down to it, and I think I speak for Nate [Robertson] as well, we just love the opportunity to come out on a daily basis and be with our teammates out on the court - practicing all week, preparing for games and when the lights are on, we're thankful to be there."
Robertson is another one of the four seniors on the Williams roster. He and Klemm have combined to win 100 games, the most by any group of Williams guards.
"We've had so many great memories in this gym through the four years," said Robertson. "Whether we play here [Saturday] or play away, it was nice to go out and give the community and all the students something they can partake in and enjoy with us."
The Catholic University Cardinals won the Landmark Conference championship and then knocked off the College of Staten Island 67-61 in the first round of the Division III Tournament.
Like Williams, the Cardinals didn't know if they would be hosting or traveling after their win on Saturday.
"With the ‘W,' this is a great place to spend spring break," Catholic's Shaun Holmes said, not knowing where his team would spend the end of the break.
The winner plays the winner of the battle of Southeast Virginia. Christopher Newport of Newport News will play Virginia Wesleyan of Norfolk.
Coach Pat Manning's women, meanwhile, went on the road and won twice. That gave the Ephs the opportunity to come back to Chandler and host what has to be the most national of the four regional semifinals. Manning's Ephs defeated the University of Scranton and the host University of Rochester to earn the trip home.
NESCAC player of the year Claire Baecher had quite a weekend in western New York. She averaged 22.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots in both of Williams wins.
Ithaca's trip to Williamstown won't be too difficult to make. The Empire-8 Conference champion Bombers just returned from Gorham, Maine, where they beat Colby-Sawyer and Smith to advance to the Sweet 16. So a couple of hours east on a bus will be all the Bombers will need.
The other semifinal game will involve two teams that have to travel a long way to get here.
Emory, the regular-season champion of the University Athletic Association -- a league that does not have a tournament -- will have to make a 1,038-mile trip from metropolitan Atlanta to Williamstown.
Whitman will travel more than twice as far. The Lady Missionaries, who upset 13th-ranked Lewis and Clark in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, are from Walla Walla, Washington, and will have to make a 2,780-mile trip to Berkshire County.
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On Twitter: @howardherman
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