College Basketball Notebook: Williams men hold steady at No. 2 in D-III rankings
As the first semester of the local college basketball season draws to a close, the Williams College men are still near the top of the national Division III rankings.
The latest D3hoops.com national Top 25 was released late Monday night, and it finds Coach Kevin App's Ephs ranked second for the second consecutive week. Williams had been ranked eighth in the preseason Top 25.
There was a little bit of shuffling behind top-ranked Nebraska Wesleyan and Williams, however. Augustana (Ill.) moved from fifth to third, while Hamilton slid from third to fourth. Whitman (Calif.) moved from sixth to fifth, rounding out the top five.
There are now four NESCAC schools in the Top 25.
Along with Williams and Hamilton, Middlebury is ranked 12th, down from 18th. Amherst made its debut in the Top 25, ranked 19th. That's the highest ranking of a first-time team in the Top 25.
There are two other New England schools in this week's Top 25. MIT moved back up to ninth from 11th, while Nichols is 25th and in its first Top 25.
The second-ranked Ephs have two more games before finals and the holiday break. Williams will host Union on Thursday and then play at Springfield on Saturday to wrap up the first semester.
Williams has the reigning NESCAC player of the week in senior guard Bobby Casey. Casey averaged 21 points a game in wins over Fitchburg State and Wesleyan. He is fourth in the conference with a 17.6 scoring average. He leads the Ephs in scoring and assists (4.1) while he's second in rebounding at 5.4 boards per game.
Four Williams starters are averaging in double figures. James Heskett is second (16.1), followed by Kyle Scadlock (13.3) and Matt Karpowicz (11.3). Scadlock is averaging nearly a double-double with 8.1 rebounds per game.
Williams has a 49-33 record against Union and has won the last three. The Dutchmen are 4-1.
Springfield, meanwhile, has lost three straight — all after preseason All-America candidate Jake Ross went down with an injury.
Pittsfield sophomore Deonte Sandifer comes off the bench for the Pride. He has played in three of the 2-3 Pride's five games. He played 22 minutes, scored six points and had three assists in a loss to Becker.
Coach Derek Shell's Trailblazers bring a 1-5 record into the last three games of the first semester.
MCLA hosted RPI on Tuesday night, and will travel to Rivier (1-6) on Thursday before wrapping up the semester at home against Union on Monday.
The Trailblazers, who have been smaller than just about everyone they have played, did demonstrate what their defense can do in Saturday's loss at Saint Joseph (Conn.).
MCLA forced 18 turnovers and made only four of their own. But trying to shoot against a team that was bigger at every position forced MCLA into one-and-outs frequently.
MCLA is led by Mike Demartinis, who is eighth in MASCAC with a 13.5 point-per-game average. Drury product Hayden Bird is second on the squad, averaging 10.5 points per game.
Williams (3-3) hits the final week of the semester trying to get healthy.
Coach Pat Manning has had four of her tallest players on the sideline. Emily Peckham, a 6-foot-1 junior, had played in the first three games and averaged seven rebounds per game. Six-foot first-year Mia Holtze and 5-11 senior Caroline Lovisolo each played in one game, while 5-11 junior Angela Vecchiarelli from East Longmeadow has yet to play.
Despite being smaller than most of the teams they have played, Manning has the Ephs sitting with .500 record as they get ready to close out the first semester.
After Tuesday's game against MCLA, Williams will travel to Vassar on Thursday, before wrapping up the semester at home against NESCAC and Little Three rival Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon. That game does count in the Little Three standings with Williams, Wesleyan and Amherst, but does not count in the NESCAC conference standings.
Maggie Meehan and Lauren Vostal are Williams' double-figure scoring leaders. Meehan, a sophomore, is averaging 10.8 points per game, while senior Vostal scores at a 10.2 point clip.
Sophomore Gabby Martin, the smallest Eph at 5-foot-5, leads the team with 7.2 rebounds per game. All seven of the players ahead of her on the rebounding list have a minimum of three inches on Martin. Leading rebounder Tara Berger of Wesleyan is 6-2.
The Trailblazers started their final week before finals with a Tuesday-night game against Route 2 rival Williams. MCLA came into the week with a 3-3 record.
MCLA and Williams hadn't played each other since Williams won in 2012.
The final three games for MCLA continue a trend of playing tough teams. Of the nine teams on the calendar before the semester break, five are over .500 as of this week, two are at .500 and two have losing records.
After the Williams home game, MCLA will have two more in the Amsler Campus Center. The Trailblazers will host Western New England on Saturday, and open an MCLA-Union doubleheader on Monday.
Sam Gawron and Courtney Pingelski lead the Trailblazers in scoring, averaging 10.2 points per game, good for 12th in MASCAC. Pingelski is seventh in rebounding at 6.2 per game.
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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