How the Northeast stands entering 2016

Kelsey Cognetta is one of three Owls averaging 25 minutes per game, with nobody averaging more.
Keene State athletics photo

As we enter the beginning of conference play, let’s check in on a few stories from around the Northeast that have occurred over the past few weeks.

Keene State women win 11 straight, matches 2006-07 streak

The Owls concluded the first half of their 2015-16 campaign with 10 straight wins, including a pair of victories against SUNY Polytechnic and Worcester State at the Arizona Shootout last week.

On Monday, Keene State extended its winning streak to 11 games, defeating Fitchburg State, 65-29. The win matched the program’s most consecutive wins, dating back to the 2006-07 squad, which advanced to the second round of the Division III NCAA Tournament.

Sandi Purcell, Kelsey Cognetta and Amanda Petrow have highlighted the offensive output, collaborating for 389 points in 11 games. As a unit, the Owls are averaging 78.5 points per game and rank 11th in the nation in scoring offense as of January 3.

Sarah Kober and Stephanie D’Annolfo have dominated the glass on both ends, combining for 176 rebounds, including 72 offensive caroms, which has led to second and third scoring opportunities for the offense. Additionally, the Owls have been clutch from the charity stripe, connecting on 139 of 197 free throws (70.6 percent).

Keene State is currently in a two-way tie for first place in the Little East Conference with Western Connecticut. Expect the squad’s current success to continue over the next few weeks and into their conference tournament.

WPI joins Hope with two 10-win teams

Entering this week’s slate of games, the WPI men and women’s basketball teams have combined for 21 wins and two losses.

As noted in this week’s WPI weekly release, the Engineers became the second school – the first was Hope– to have both programs with 10 games or more. The teams collaborated for five wins over the holiday break, including a Saturday afternoon buzzer-beater by the men’s team against Eastern Nazarene. Zach Karalis sank a three-pointer as time expired to provide the visiting Engineers with a 67-65 win.

The WPI men’s team became the first New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) squad to reach double-figures. Clyde Niba and Sean Doncaster have jumpstarted the offensive by averaging 16.5 and 10.4 points per game, respectively. Niba is averaging 7.4 rebounds per game, while Obi Obiora and Ian Converse have combined for 55 offensive boards. WPI begins conference play this week with a visit to Springfield College on Wednesday followed by a home game against MIT on Saturday. 

The WPI women’s team currently owns an 11-1 record, including a 3-0 ledger in conference play. They are currently riding a nine-game winning streak, including five consecutive victories away from Harrington Auditorium. Ama Biney has continued her first-year success, averaging 11.5 points per game, while Priscilla Dunphy is second on the team in points per game (8.5). Dunphy and Biney have also helped on the glass, averaging 5.0 and 4.8 rebounds, respectively. Biney also leads the team with 13 trifectas – Lisa Mendez is second on the team from beyond the arc with nine triples – and Tess Nogueira is first in offensive caroms with 23.

Similar to the men’s team, the WPI women’s squad returns to conference play on Wednesday with a visit to Wellesley before hosting Wheaton on Saturday. WPI hosted the Blue earlier this season and claimed a 47-34 win.

Colby on a roll, winners of nine in a row

An overtime setback to State Island earlier this season seemed to be the spark behind the current nine-game winning streak for the Colby men’s basketball team.

Colby has won nine consecutive games since late November, including an overtime thriller against Bates in December.

Against the Bobcats, the Mules needed a late second half rally to force overtime before securing the win in the extra session. Ryan Jann extended the game into overtime by sinking a triple late in the second stanza. Colby outscored Bates, 12-8, during the final session and netted 23 of 36 shots from the stripe – a big reason the Mules were victorious. Bates finished 13 of 17 from the line.

As of Tuesday, Colby and Amherst own identical 9-1 overall records, while Wesleyan became the first New England Small College Athletic Conference squad to reach 10 wins. The Mules play three games this week, including a pair of conference games against Bates and Tufts. Colby’s contest on Friday at the Bobcats will be their initial conference clash of the season. 

Newbury and Regis to meet in Saturday showdown

Newbury will be the host for back-to-back basketball games on Saturday, January with the women’s game slated to tip-off at 12 p.m. followed by the men’s game at 2 p.m.

The women’s game will feature the top-two defenses in the New England Collegiate Conference with Regis allowing a league-best 52.1 points per game compared to Newbury – second in the league – which is yielding 58.1 points per game. Newbury’s Destiny Spears enters the week first in the conference in rebounds 48 and rebounds per game (16.0), while Katelyn Roeserleads the NECC in assists with 35. Regis’ Mikayla Murphy is tied for second with 32 assists.

As for the men’s game, Newbury head coach Jelani Townsell will be coaching against his mentor Nate Hager. Townsell was a member of Hager’s staff for two seasons, including Regis’ inaugural campaign in 2007-08 before moving to the University of Connecticut to join Jim Calhoun’s staff as a graduate assistant. Townsell was on the bench during the 2010-11 season when the Huskies defeated Butler in the national championship. Hager has a 6-3 advantage in head-to-head meetings between the two.

Matt Noonan

Matt Noonan is the head editor and founder of, a New England Division III college sports blog that covers basketball, football and lacrosse. Noonan's work has been featured on,, and, and has appeared in the Boston Globe, along with other digital and print outlets. No stranger to Division III, Noonan spent time as an Athletics Communications Assistant and Sports Information Assistant at MIT, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Wheaton College, and was recently an Associate Producer at Lax Sports Network where he oversaw a trio of weekly shows, while assisting producers, on-air talent, production assistants and directors with daily programming. Noonan graduated from Wheaton College in May 2010 -- Go Lyons! -- and currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts.