|Clark basketball, from Instagram|
The NCAA Division III basketball season tipped off immediately last Friday, as Clark and Worcester State commenced their respective campaigns with an early morning contest that began shortly after midnight.
Roughly 2,000 fans witnessed the midnight affair between the two Worcester schools, and according to the Boston Globe, the Kneller Athletic Center provided a ‘loud, hot, electric and fun’ atmosphere for players, coaches and spectators.
As noted in the game’s release, the pregame introductions ‘were eliminated’ due to crowd noise.
This game was unique – neither team had competed in a midnight madness contest in prior seasons – so the venue not only featured a competitive basketball game, but complementary pizza, bagels, doughnuts, cider, hot chocolate and coffee.
“The whole point in doing this is for the students and it was certainly a night for the students,” Worcester State head coach Dave Lindberg told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Clark ended the early morning affair with an 83-78 win against the Lancers. Tyler Huffman poured in a game-high 29 points, while Worcester State received a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds from Marquez McKreith-Collins.
Luckily, Clark and Worcester State had the weekend off to recharge as both teams compete in a combined six games this week.
Clark and Worcester State are not the first two teams to compete immediately at the beginning of a collegiate basketball season, especially after midnight, but this particular game had me pondering the question: should more Division III teams play midnight madness games?
I tweeted the question on Saturday – look for more questions from @MattNoonan11 for this column every week – and received a few responses, including one follower that felt midnight games shouldn’t be allowed at the Division III level.
Sure, playing a midnight contest would ask a lot of an athletic department, but this particular outing proved fans would attend games – and not because of free food – but for the unique environment that may not be seen at a regular weeknight or weekend contest.
I commend Clark and Worcester State for their efforts in putting this contest together – I know it took a lot of work, but it clearly was a success.
Let’s hope this particular contest inspires more teams around the country to either start their season on the first day after midnight or compete at an odd hour when hosting tournaments in November and December.
Eastern Conn. nets milestones, tip-off title
Senior Jill Ritrosky began her final season on a high note, eclipsing the centennial mark on Sunday during Eastern Connecticut State’s tip-off championship victory against Bridgewater State.
Ritrosky was tabbed the tournament’s most valuable player after celebrating her second tournament double-double. She needed just 10 points to reach the 1,000-point mark heading in Sunday’s contest against the Bears and secured the feat by sinking a pair of free throws with 5:19 remaining in the second quarter. The senior forward finished with 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and posted a double-double of 13 points and 12 caroms in the Warriors’ season opener against Nichols.
In addition to Ritrosky’s 1,000-point, head coach Denise Bierly inched closer to her 400th victory on the sidelines. A 2014 New England Women’s Basketball Association (NEWBA) Head Coach of the Year, Bierly entered her 22nd season ranked tenth in victories among active New England Division III head coaches, according to the Little East Conference preseason report. She currently owns a 396-188 record, and would need to guide the Warriors to four straight victories against Emmanuel, Tufts, St. Joseph (Conn.) and Amherst to reach the 400-win plateau at the earliest date possible.
News and notes from opening weekend
- Coast Guard senior Meghan Fornaro surpassed the 1,000 career point total on Sunday during her team’s 73-59 setback to UMass Dartmouth in the Fairfield Inn & Suites Tournament championship. Fornaro becomes the eighth player in school history to 1,000 points. Fornaro concluded the opening weekend by tallying 28 points in her team’s opener against Westfield State, while adding 23 points against the Corsairs.
- The Babson women’s basketball team has now won 48 straight games when scoring 75 points or more, dating to Dec. 20, 2008. Babson defeated Emmanuel on Sunday, 80-75, claiming the Emmanuel College Invitational. Senior Linnett Graber paced the Green and White with 19 points, seven rebounds and a trio of assists in the squad’s second victory of the season.
- The Westfield State women’s basketball team set at least five school records this in their 100-74 win over Rivier on Sunday in the consolation game of the Fairfield Inn Tournament at UMass Dartmouth. The Owls set records with 61 first half points, 34 points in a quarter, 14 made three pointer, 36 triples attempted and 98 field goal attempts.
Five Games to Watch this Week (Nov. 16-Nov. 22)
- Regis at Colby-Sawyer (MBB) – Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. – A pair of 2-0 teams will square off in New Loudon, N.H., on Tuesday evening, and it will be interesting to see if Regis will again claim its third straight two-point victory. Regis opened its season with back-to-back two-point victories against Wentworth and Emerson.
- RPI at Babson (WBB) – Saturday, Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. – The Beavers tallied 80 points or more this past weekend, but can they continue that effort against an Engineers squad that commenced its season with an 80-40 win over Simmons?
- Tufts at Brandeis (WBB) – Saturday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. – The Jumbos have appeared in back-to-back NCAA Division III semifinals the past two seasons, so let’s see how they commence their 2015-16 season later this week against the Judges.
- Bates vs. Norwich (MBB) at Thomas College – Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. – The Bobcats are one of my teams to watch this season, so let’s see if Bates can start off its 2015-16 campaign by winning the Charlie Ryan Classic.
- Bates at University of New England (WBB) – Saturday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. – The Nor’easters lost to the Bobcats by four points on the road last season, so can they claim a win at home? UNE beat Bates at home on January 13 with a 69-47 victory.