Middlebury starts its run toward the NESCAC Women's Basketball Championship when it hosts Wesleyan in a NESCAC Quarterfinal game on Saturday, February 17 at 3:00 p.m. in Pepin Gym. Admission is free for the contest. The winner advances to the semifinal round next weekend at the highest remaining seed and the champion earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Amherst Mammoths are the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC Women's Basketball Championship for the second-straight season. The tournament gets underway with quarterfinal action on Saturday, February 17 at the top four seeds and continues with semifinals and the final on February 24 and 25 at the highest remaining seed.
The Panthers (17-7, 6-4) are the No. 4 seed for the second-straight winter and third time overall. Middlebury went 12-2 in the first half of the season, and has won four of its last six games entering the tournament. The Panthers are one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the league at 74.2 percent and also rank fourth in assists per game (14.2). The Panthers will be aiming for their first trip to the semifinals since 2013, as they pursue their first NESCAC title.
Wesleyan (16-7, 5-5) is making its first appearance in the tournament since 2014, and is the No. 5 seed for the first time since 2007. The Cardinals have recorded their most wins since the 2007-08 season. Wesleyan finished the regular season strong, winning seven of its final nine games. The Cardinals lead the league in rebounding (46.5) and rank second in scoring at 68.5 points per game. Wesleyan is holding opponents to 34.1 percent shooting from the field and also ranks second in the conference in assists per game (14.5). The Cardinals are seeking their first semifinal appearance since 2008 and have never won a NESCAC title.
Wesleyan is 2-1 against Middlebury in the NESCAC Championship. The teams last met in the 2004 quarterfinals with the Cardinals coming away with the win. Middlebury held the edge in the regular season, registering a 77-60 home win on January 6.
Amherst (24-0, 10-0 NESCAC) completed the regular season with a perfect record for the second straight year. The two-time defending champions will host a quarterfinal round for the 11th consecutive season. Amherst is the top defensive team in the league, allowing 39.4 points per game and holding opponents to 28.4 percent shooting from the floor. The Mammoths will host No. 8 Trinity (15-9, 3-7 NESCAC) to begin their quest for a third straight NESCAC Championship and eighth overall.
Trinity returns to the NESCAC Championship following a three-year hiatus. Trinity and Colby finished with identical conference records of 3-7, but Trinity defeated Colby in head-to-head competition to earn the No. 8 seed. The Bantams started the year with a 9-2 record and finished the regular season winning two of their last three games. Trinity ranks third in the league in assists per game (14.0) and is holding opponents to 27.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
The Mammoths are 3-0 against Trinity in the NESCAC Championship series. The teams last met in the 2013 quarterfinals with Amherst posting an 80-34 victory. Amherst, which defeated Trinity, 49-31, in the conference opener on January 5, is looking to move onto the semifinals for the 11th consecutive season. A Bantam victory would mark Trinity's first trip to the semifinals since 2014 in its quest for its first NESCAC title.
No. 2 Bowdoin (23-1, 9-1 NESCAC) will host No. 7 Williams (12-12, 4-6 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. The Polar Bears are the No. 2 seed for the third time overall and first time since 2015. Bowdoin posted its best regular season record since the 2006-07 season, with its lone loss being a 49-45 setback at Amherst. The Polar Bears own the best offense in the NESCAC, averaging 82.8 points per game, while allowing 47.3 points per game. Bowdoin is shooting a league-high 46.9 percent from the floor, 37.8 percent from 3-point range and 76.7 percent from the foul line. The Polar Bears have won eight NESCAC Championships, but have not claimed the title since 2009.
Williams is the No. 7 seed for the second consecutive season. Connecticut College and Williams finished with identical conference records of 4-6, but Connecticut College edged the Ephs during the regular season to grab the No. 6 seed. The Ephs began the year with a 5-1 record, and snapped a four-game losing streak with a 57-50 win over Hamilton in the regular season finale. Williams ranks third in the league in blocks, averaging 4.2 per contest.
Bowdoin is 7-0 against Williams in the NESCAC tournament series and the teams last met in the 2016 quarterfinals with the Polar Bears posting a 73-50 win. This season, Bowdoin earned a 73-47 victory over the Ephs on February 3. An Eph win would propel Williams into the semifinals for the first time since 2015.
Tufts (21-3, 8-2 NESCAC) is the No. 3 seed for the first time since 2009 and second time overall and will host No. 6 Connecticut College (15-8, 4-6 NESCAC). The Jumbos will host a quarterfinal for the seventh straight season and look to reach the semifinals for the fifth consecutive year. The Jumbos are averaging 66.8 points per game, while giving up 48.3 points per game, as both marks rank third in the conference. Tufts ranks second in the NESCAC in steals, collecting an average of 11.0 per game. The Jumbos rattled off nine straight wins to open the year and the two league losses came at the hands of Bowdoin and Amherst. Last year's runner-up, Tufts is seeking its third NESCAC Championship and first since 2015.
Connecticut College is in the NESCAC Championship for the fifth straight season and sixth time in seven years. The Camels opened the year with a 6-1 record and have won two of their last three games entering the tournament. Connecticut College ranks second in the league in 3-point shooting at 36.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Tufts and Connecticut College have only met once in the NESCAC Championship, the Jumbos posted a 57-40 victory over the Camels in the 2012 quarterfinals. This season, Tufts earned a 75-54 victory in Medford, Mass., on January 26.
Results for the NESCAC Women's Basketball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.
2018 NESCAC Women's Basketball Tournament
Quarterfinals - Saturday, February 17
No. 8 Trinity at No. 1 Amherst – 2:00 p.m.
No. 7 Williams at No. 2 Bowdoin – 3:00 p.m.
No. 6 Connecticut College at No. 3 Tufts – 3:00 p.m.
No. 5 Wesleyan at No. 4 Middlebury – 3:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, February 24
at Highest Remaining Seed
2:00 p.m. | 4:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, February 25
Semifinal Winners – 12:00 p.m.
-- Courtesy of the NESCAC --