Tip top shape

Benedictine scored an upset victory over Illinois Wesleyan on opening night.
Benedictine athletics file photo

The Division III basketball season tipped off with a few upsets, a Top 25 showdown and some surprise winners on the women's side.

Three national semifinalists from last season started this one with a loss. Benedictine knocked off preseason No. 4 Illinois Wesleyan 61-60 at home. Adam Reynolds' layup gave the Eagles the lead with 1:09 to play and neither team scored again. The Titans had a missed three-point shot and a put back that rolled off the rim on the final possession. Benedictine was picked third in the NACC preseason poll.

NAIA teams get an earlier start to the season than Division III teams do, and sometimes that means they have an advantage early in the season. Whether that's the reason why defending champion UW-Whitewater lost to Cardinal Stritch or not can't be said for sure, but it's hard to ignore that the Wolves were playing in their fifth game in beating the Warhawks 71-66.

For the second year in a row, Southern Vermont knocked off Williams to start the season, 75-68. The fifth-ranked Ephs scored 24 points from the foul line but shot 8-for-27 from three. Four Mountaineer starters reached double figures. Williams has a new head coach and lost two All-Americans from last season's national runners-up, including D3hoops.com Rookie of the Year Duncan Robinson, who transferred to the University of Michigan.

Amherst was the only 2014 Final Four team to not lose on opening night. The Lord Jeffs don't open until Tuesday night at Anna Maria.

No. 3 Augustana narrowly avoided an upset by holding off Albion, 51-47. The Vikings shut out the Britons over the final 3:37 to pull ahead for good.

Wooster handled Cabrini 97-80 at home in a matchup of preseason All-Americans. Aaron Walton Moss had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers before fouling out with 6:02 remaining. Wooster's Xavier Brown was held to four points but Josh Kipfer picked up the slack with 26 points off the Scots' bench.

Surprisingly Oberlin and Wittenberg started the season with a conference game against each other. Even more surprising, the Yeomen topped the Tigers 65-63. Oberlin's win snaps a 50-game losing streak against Wittenberg, dating back to 1979 when both teams played in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

Michael Byrnes had a successful debut as the head coach at Rhode Island College. The Anchormen dumped Brockport State 72-62 in a game between 2014 NCAA tournament participants. Jack Taylor had 40 points for Grinnell but it was not enough to stop George Fox from picking up a 124-114 win.

Southern Virginia won a triple-overtime thriller over Emory and Henry, 110-101. The teams combined for 83 free throw and 56 three-point attempts. Colby started the season with a solid victory over Purchase State, 73-70 in overtime.

Women's recap

Angelica Ariola scored 22 points, including seven in the final two minutes, for Roger Williams.
Photo by DSPics.com

Randolph-Macon got 46 points from its backcourt and the Yellow Jackets defeated Ferum, 69-65. Sarah Parsons led the way with 21 points while Khajae Hester scored 14 and Hannah Livermon added 11. Jacole Hairston had 20 points for the Panthers.

Roger Williams edged No. 22 Bowdoin 58-57 behind a clutch performance by Angelica Ariola. The Hawks' guard hit a three-pointer to tie the game with less than two minutes to play and then did it again with 12 seconds remaining. After Bowdoin turned the ball over, Ariola was fouled with two seconds left and hit one of two shots to lift Roger Williams to victory.

Stefanie Lang scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Olivet, but the rest of her team scored just 30 points total and the Comets fell to North Park, 58-45. Liz Rehberger notched 20 points for the Vikings. Olivet shot 1-for-15 from three and missed its only two free throw attempts.

FDU-Florham opened its title defense in dominant fashion, trouncing Hunter 104-61.

Playing for the first time in decades without Mike Strong on the bench, Scranton pushed past Misericordia 77-51 to give Deanna Klingman her first coaching victory. Roanoke, which had long-time head coach Susan Dunagan retire in the offseason, also started its new era off on the right foot. The Maroons defeated Meredith, 64-47.