College Basketball Notebook: Williams men, women enter final week of NESCAC regular season
It feels like only yesterday that Berkshire County's college basketball teams were taking the courts for their first games. Time flies.
That's because the Williams College men and women will both be wrapping up their regular seasons this weekend. The Eph men will host Bates and Tufts, while the women will go to Bates and Tufts.
NESCAC will unveil it's eight-team tournament fields on Sunday.
The MCLA men and women, meanwhile, will be home on Wednesday and Saturday. The Trailblazers will host Framingham State in a men's and women's doubleheader on Wednesday. Worcester State will be the opponent on Saturday.
This is the penultimate weekend of the MASCAC schedule.
The last time the Ephs, currently 11-11, lost this many games was the 2006-07 season. It was the next-to-last year of the Dave Paulsen era.
That team was the No. 3 seed in the NESCAC tournament field. It was a year where all eight tournament teams had records north of .500, and Williams had the worst record in the tournament at 13-11. But Paulsen's team beat No. 6 Tufts and No. 2 Trinity, before upsetting top-seed Amherst 70-69 in the championship game.
This has been one challenging season for coach Kevin App's Ephs. They are 2-7 against teams that either are currently, or have been, in the D3hoops.com Top 25. That doesn't include 18th-ranked Tufts, Williams' opponent in Saturday's regular-season finale.
The Ephs are pretty locked into the NESCAC tournament. They are currently sixth, and would play Amherst in the quarterfinals. But if Williams can beat Bates and Tufts, while Trinity and/or Middlebury can both lose twice, Williams could sneak in and get a quarterfinal home game.
Tufts is currently the No. 1 team in NESCAC with an 8-0 record. Williams has a 4-4 league mark.
It's been a dandy bounce-back year for coach Pat Manning's team.
After back-to-back sub .500 seasons, the Ephs head into the final weekend with a 16-6 record. One more win will equal the 17 wins from back in 2016. Williams is currently 5-3 in conference play.
The Ephs are fourth in the NESCAC standings with a 5-3 record. They will close the regular season with road games at Bates on Friday and at top-ranked and undefeated Tufts on Saturday. Williams has lost eight straight to the Jumbos. The last win came in 2011, when Danny Ranier scored on a tip-in with 5 seconds left in a 61-59 win for the Ephs.
Bates will come into the weekend with a 12-10 overall record and a 3-5 NESCAC mark. The Bobcats are tied with Wesleyan for seventh in the standings. Eight teams make the tournament field.
If the playoffs started today, Williams would host either Hamilton or Trinity. Both teams are tied for fifth with 4-4 marks. Williams beat both teams, so it would have home-court advantage.
Williams is seeking to make its first NCAA Division III tournament since 2015.
After winning nine straight games, Derek Shell's Trailblazers are 2-3 in their last five. Two of the losses were in MASCAC play.
That gives MCLA a 7-2 record, and the Trailblazers are tied atop the conference standings with Westfield State. Worcester, at 6-2, is a game back. Were the season to end today, the Trailblazers would hold the tiebreaker over Westfield, having beaten the Owls in overtime back on Jan. 29.
MASCAC still has this week and next week to play regular-season games. Both MCLA and Westfield have three contests left, while Worcester has four.
Two members of the MASCAC Honor Roll will be on display at the Amsler Campus Center Gym this weekend. MCLA's Ki-Shawn Monroe averaged 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4 assists last week. Worcester's Corey Olivier averaged 18.5 points in two games last week.
The Trailblazers begin a big 10-day stretch on Wednesday, when the 14-7 'Blazers host 1-20 Framingham State. Framingham is winless in conference play. MCLA will host Worcester State on Saturday afternoon. An MCLA win would make it tough for Worcester to crack the top two. Westfield, meanwhile hosts Bridgewater this week, and will travel to Salem next Wednesday before hosting MCLA in the regular-season finale.
There are seven teams in the conference and six qualify for the MASCAC Tournament. The top two teams get first-round byes and host the semifinals. That's the goal Shell and his players are shooting for.
The Trailblazers come into the final three games 0-9, and cannot make the MASCAC Tournament.
Even if MCLA wins its final three games and either Salem State and/or Fitchburg State lose their last three, they would be tied at 3-9 in conference play. Both Fitchburg and Salem hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
So MCLA will look to play spoiler in its last three games, hosting Framingham and Worcester before playing at Westfield next weekend.
Framingham comes into North Adams on Wednesday with a perfect 8-0 conference record. The Rams are also one of two MASCAC women's teams with records north of .500. Framingham is 18-5 while Worcester is 13-8.
The Rams haven't lost since dropping a game to Emerson back on Jan. 7. It will also be a Berkshire County reunion for two members of coach Walt Paschall's team. Gwendolyn Carpenter and Sarah Sullivan will play their first-ever collegiate games in Berkshire County.
Carpenter and Sullivan are both freshmen at Framingham. Carpenter had a career-high five assists in a 100-74 win over Westfield State, a game where Sullivan had career highs in points (14) and rebounds (9).
Carpenter played 10 minutes in a 78-47 win over MCLA in Framingham and Sullivan played 13 minutes.
Carpenter has appeared in all 21 of her team's games. Sullivan, who transferred from Assumption, made her debut in a holiday tournament in Florida, when Framingham lost to Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.