Saturday women: Locking up top seeds

Hannah Spaulding in the post in a file photo. ( file photo by Ryan Coleman)
Hannah Spaulding had a tremendous senior day for St. Thomas. file photo by Ryan Coleman

It was Senior Day in many places across Division III and teams were jockeying for conference playoff position in a full day of women's basketball action on Saturday. 

Hannah Spaulding went off for career-highs of 32 points and 21 rebuonds, and classmate Lucia Renikoff added 21 points as No. 3 St. Thomas cruised past Augsburg 83-68, solidifying its hold on first place in the MIAC. It's the 12th consecutive win for the Tommies, who improved to 22-1, 16-0 in the conference, while the Auggies fell to 19-4, 14-2. It was also the 70th consecutive win for the program against an MIAC opponent.

Spaulding, a first team All-America selection last season, was simply unstoppable on Saturday, as she hit 12 of her 15 shot attempts and had as many rebounds as the entire Augsburg team. "It's the most fun when you don't even know you're doing it and it comes easy to you," Spaulding said. 

"I don't think I've ever had anyone with a stat line like that," said Tommies coach Ruth Sinn, who recently won her 400th career game. "That's unbelievable. And she's passing them up. But she's just so efficient." 

Spaulding had just eight points at halftime, but thrived as the pace of the game ratcheted up, as a 29-20 first half was followed by a 27-26 third quarter and a 27-22 fourth. Spaulding had 11 points in the third and 13 in the fourth. Augsburg was led by Tamira McLemore, who had 21 points, eight rebounds and a game-high six steals. 

Meghan Sullivan had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Maeve McNamara added seven points as No. 4 Amherst defeated Middlebury 72-62. The Mammoths (21-2, 8-1 NESCAC) outscored the Panthers 26-12 in the the third quarter to overcome a one-point halftime deficit. Hannah Fox scored a game-high 21 points and was 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Middlebury fell to 18-6, 5-5.

No. 16 DeSales ran its win streak to 16 as well as the Bulldogs clamped down on Misericordia in a 66-45 win. The Cougars, who entered the game at 19-3, shot just 20.7 percent from the floor as the Bulldogs clinched the top-spot in the MAC Freedom playoffs. Averi Jordan and fellow freshman Samantha Shinkus shared the lead for DeSales (21-2, 12-0) with 13 points apiece.

Mallory Gerber came off the bench to lead a balanced scoring effort for No. 10 Hope in a 73-37 win at St. Mary's (Ind.). The win is Hope's 20th of the season, a milestone which Hope has reached for the 21st consecutive season. Thirteen players reached the scoring column for the Flying Dutch. Wheaton (Ill.) rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to force overtime and pulled away in the second overtime to defeat North Central (Ill.) 68-59. Hannah Frazier scored 13 of her 23 points after regulation to lead the 24th-ranked Thunder, who improved to 20-4, 14-1 CCIW.

UW-Whitewater won its eighth consecutive game and remained one game behind UW-Oshkosh in the WIAC with a 74-60 win vs. UW-Stout. Emily Schumacher posted a team-high 17 points, and Camri Conley added 14 points. The Blue Devils drew to within six with 9:22 to play, but Schumacher scored five straight points to push the lead back to double digits. From there, UW-Stout drew no closer than nine points as the Warhawks converted at the free-throw line.

DePauw clinched a share of its seventh North Coast Athletic Conference title in eight seasons, shooting 54 percent from the field and riding a huge rebounding advantage in an 85-55 win at Ohio Wesleyan. Sydney Kopp led all scorers with 23, while Claire Keefe followed with 19 for DePauw (19-4, 13-1) and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

No. 24 Wheaton (Ill.) outlasted North Central (Ill.) 68-59 in double overtime to secure at least a share of the CCIW title. The Cardinals built a 36-25 halftime lead but the Thunder held them to 12 points total in the second half and eventually pulled out the win. Hannah Frazier had 23 points, 13 of which came after regulation, for Wheaton (20-4, 14-1 CCIW) which will have home court throughout the conference playoffs.

The rest of the ASC can start making plans to travel to Belton, Texas where No. 9 Mary Hardin-Baylor will host the tournament. The Crusaders cruised past Concorida (Texas) 72-50, securing the ASC West division title and hosting rights for the conference tournament. Playoff-hosting duties alternate between the East and West divisions every other season.

The NESCAC tournament rounded into shape with No. 1 Bowdoin and No. 4 Amherst pulling away for wins in the second half. The top-ranked Polar Bears got 27 points from Taylor Choate in a 92-75 win over Wesleyan to finish a 10-0 run through the conference. The Mammoths turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 10-point win over Middlebury, 72-62, as All-Americans Hannah Fox and Madeline Eck scored 21 and 20 points respectively. Amherst (21-2, 8-1) finishes conference play on Tuesday against Hamilton, but is locked into the two seed. Middlebury's loss ensures that Trinity (Conn.) will get a home game in the NESCAC tournament next weekend.

Outside the Top 25, John Carroll edged Ohio Northern 56-54 on Nicole Heffington's layup with two seconds remaining. Heffington had 11 points and three assists for the Blue Streaks (17-6, 13-3) who swept ONU for the first time since 2009. John Carroll can win the OAC title outright by winning one of two games next week.

Guilford topped Bridgewater (Va.) 72-57 and locked up the top spot in the ODAC tournament. Freshman Lindsay Gauldin led the Quakers (18-5, 15-2) with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Babson stayed atop the tightly congested NEWMAC standings by beating Springfield, 70-57.  Payton Ouimette's double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) led the way for the Beavers who are a half-game up on Smith for first with MIT and Springfield each two games back.

Plymouth State stunned Mass-Dartmouth 89-87 in double overtime on Jess Conant's jumper with six seconds to play in the second extra period. The Panthers (10-13, 4-11 Little East) nearly completed the upset in the first overtime but Jess Korzec's three-pointer with six seconds left saved the Corsairs (19-4, 12-2) momentarily.