Losses light a fire under UNE

More news about: University of New England
Meghan Gribbin has dished out 424 assists and counting for UNE, which has gone 90-17 in her four seasons.
UNE athletics photo by Fotografix Studio

University of New England senior Meghan Gribbin was not focused on passing Melissa Roller’s all-time assist mark, but leading the Nor’easters to a victory against rival Roger Williams.

“That was an important game for us with (Roger Williams) being one of our conference rivals and one of the few teams that beat us last year,” said Gribbin, a current senior co-captain for the Nor’easters.

“My only focus (for that contest) was doing my job to help the team get a big win.”

Gribbin accomplished both tasks, however, leading her team past the Hawks – a five-point win on UNE’s home court – while tallying six assists, including a late third quarter helper that leapfrogged her past Roller to become the program’s all-time leader in assists.  

“We always recognize when someone on our team breaks a record or wins an award, but we know not to get wrapped up in the accolades and focus on the task at hand,” said Gribbin. 

Gribbin was notified of her accomplishment in between the third and fourth quarters, but kept her focus in the final eight minutes. After the contest, her teammates celebrated the feat with a round of applause before the attention immediately shifted to Endicott.

The win against the Hawks was one of nine consecutive victories by the Nor’easters, who have not appeared in the loss column since their 48-45 overtime setback to Concordia last month. In addition to their third loss of the season, UNE also fell to UW-Whitewater, but as Gribbin sees it, both contests motivated the squad to improve in the second semester.

“Losing two tough games in Puerto Rico really lit a fire under us,” said Gribbin. “We needed to come back in the second semester with the mindset that we needed to continue to push each other and continue to improve going forward because we are always going to get every team’s best shot.” 

With the all-time assist record in hand; Gribbin is focused on ending her four-year career by leading the program to its fourth consecutive Commonwealth Coast Conference crown and a deep NCAA Division III Tournament run.

“My biggest goal for us is to make it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament, which we have been stuck in for three straight years,” said Gribbin. “We hope to stay undefeated in the conference, host the (CCC) tournament at our place for the fourth straight season, but we know that we can only do that if we focus on the very next game and do not get ahead of ourselves.

“I think we have all the pieces it takes to make a run in the tournament this year, as well as a team led by four seniors and four juniors, so we really have an experienced group that has a good idea of what it takes to get there.”

Anthony Ewing, the head coach of the Nor’easters, knows Gribbin can lead the squad to a title. He witnessed her success in high school – Gribbin was a four-year starter for the Windham High School (Maine) girls’ varsity basketball team – and believed she would excel in his system.

“Meghan was a cerebral, athletic point guard that could score and create as well as anyone I have seen at that level,” said Ewing. “I thought if we got her, she would be given the reigns right away.”

Gribbin earned the starting point guard position immediately upon arriving to campus in the fall of 2012 and has been a vital component of the program’s recent success. Gribbin registered a team-best 121 assists during her initial season, while placing second in steals. She averaged 7.2 points per game and dished out nine assists in an NCAA Tournament contest against Bridgewater State, which sent UNE to the second round for the first-time in program history.

Since her first season, Gribbin’s play has improved, earning her recognition by the conference and Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (MWBCA). She was selected to the MWBCA Rookie Team following her initial season of collegiate basketball and has appeared on the second team twice (2013-14 and 2014-15).

“If we had to pick one player that we could not live without it would be Meg,” said Ewing. “She controls game flow, understand a scout, takes care of the ball, makes plays, can get her own shot and is an under-rated defender. She makes us really difficult to press.”

With Gribbin running the point, UNE will continue to strive for its ultimate goal of winning a national title and extending its campaign past the second round. Once the season concludes – whether it is early or late March – Gribbin hopes to remain in athletics following graduation this spring.

“I am not entirely sure what kind of work I hope to do with my (sports management degree), but I know I want to be in athletics,” said Gribbin. “I hope to stay connected to the game of basketball in some aspect, but I am open to working with a variety of sports.”

Said Ewing about his starting point guard, “Meghan would be a great coach and I would not be surprised to see her go that route. She will definitely be working in the world of sports somewhere and if it’s coaching, I will always have a spot for Meg on my staff.” 

Northeast Regional Clippings

The WPI women’s basketball team appeared in the D3hoops.com poll for the first-time in program history as the Engineers are currently receiving votes. WPI has won 14 straight and sits atop the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference standings with a 16-1 overall record and 8-1 league ledger … Wesleyan earned the final spot in this week’s men’s D3hoops.com Top 25 poll, placing 25th overall. The Cardinals won a trio of games last week, including a victory against 14th ranked Amherst. Last week the Jeffs were ranked ninth in Division III. Senior guard B.J. Davis was tabbed the New England Small College Athletic Conference men’s basketball player of the week. He averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in a 3-0 week for the Cardinals … The Husson women’s basketball team extended its current winning streak to seven as the Eagles soared past Green Mountain on Saturday. Five players posted double-figures in the win, including freshman Maegan True, who netted a career and season-best 17 points off the bench … Western Connecticut men’s basketball bounced back following a 71-63 setback to Eastern Connecticut – the current Little East Conference leader – by claiming an 83-61 victory over UMass Boston on Saturday. Freshman Jauch Green tallied a team-high 20 points, while stuffing the stat sheet with eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and one block. 

Matt Noonan

Matt Noonan is the head editor and founder of NoontimeSports.com, a New England Division III college sports blog that covers basketball, football and lacrosse. Noonan's work has been featured on ESPN.com, BostonLax.net, VentureFizz.com and Patch.com, 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.