First round: Road Warriors score upsets

Kristen Schulz posted big numbers in a big spot for Wisconsin Lutheran on Friday night.
Photo by Steve Frommell,

The first round of the 2015 NCAA women's Division III basketball tournament was a good time to be road Warriors, as Eastern Connecticut and Wisconsin Lutheran upset ranked, homestanding opponents.

Wisconsin Lutheran knocked off No. 10 Wheaton (Ill.) 67-64 in overtime behind Kristen Schulz's big night. The Warriors' senior center scored 27 points, including the go-ahead layup with 83 seconds left, and grabbed 14 rebounds. She also blocked four Thunder shots.

This was the first NCAA tournament victory for the Wisconsin Lutheran seniors in four trips to the NCAA Tournament. The same is true of the seniors at Baruch, as the Bearcats defeated Stevens 70-59 to notch the program's first tournament win since 2009. Francess Henry scored a game-high 24 points and Sheridan Taylor added nine points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

Baruch had lost in overtime in the first round in 2014 and by six points in the first round the year before. The only CUNYAC wins in the NCAA Tournament in the past decade belong to Baruch (2006, 2009).

The Bearcats will play Eastern Connecticut tomorrow night because the Warriors stunned No. 15 Scranton, 50-48. Eastern Connecticut held the Royals to 14 percent shooting in the first half (4-for-29) and built a nine-point halftime lead. Scranton opened the second half on an 18-5 run and grabbed the lead, and the two teams battled back and forth the rest of the way. Taylor McBride gave the Warriors a 50-48 lead with 35 seconds left, but the Royals had three shots to tie or take the lead and couldn't connect.

Muhlenberg used a 17-3 run to rally past No. 19 Cabrini 60-57 in Upstate New York. Leanna Tallay had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Mules, who play host Geneseo State tomorrow night after the Blue Knights thumped Castleton State, 84-40. Wittenberg ousted No. 20 Transylvania 80-73 at Washington U's sectional. It's the Tigers' 13th win in 14 games and their first NCAA tournament victory in 11 seasons.

NYU will get to tip off one more NCAA tournament game at the Coles Center, after beating Virginia Wesleyan.
NYU athletics photo

A handful of ranked women's teams narrowly avoided first round losses. Kaitlyn Read's steal with a second left preserved No. 17 NYU's 51-50 victory over Virginia Wesleyan. No. 11 Salisbury overcame an 11-point halftime deficit and edged Bridgewater State, 66-63. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps came close to earning the SCIAC its first NCAA tournament win in a decade, but fell short against No. 18 Puget Sound, 61-56.

Eastern Mennonite rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half and took the lead with just four seconds left, advancing to the second round by defeating La Roche 77-76. Alisa Brown's game-winning layup with 4.5 seconds left capped a 35-16 game-ending run, giving the Royals their first NCAA Tournament win since 2004.

Stevenson rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit as Sara Tarbert put up a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds to help the Mustangs defeat Williams 67-55 at Montclair State.

The rest of the NESCAC teams in the field fared better. No. 12 Amherst won the Battle of the "Megans" and its first round matchup with Eastern, 68-51. Megan Robertson posted 22 points and nine rebounds for the Lord Jeffs while Meghan Nowak scored eight points against Amherst's stingy defense. Tufts and Bowdoin took care of Pine Manor and Babson respectively.

Long time coming

The following teams won their first NCAA Tournament game in a long time on Friday night.

Stockton def. McDaniel; last win 1984
St. John Fisher def. Skidmore; last win in 2000
Salisbury def. Bridgewater State; last win in 2002
Eastern Mennonite def. La Roche; last win in 2004
Wittenberg def. Transylvania; last win in 2004

Stevenson won its first NCAA Tournament game ever.

St. John Fisher struggled mightily from the floor, shooting just 20-for-72, but got just enough to defeat Skidmore in an ugly game, 62-60 in overtime. The teams combined for 47 turnovers. Sydney Bloomstein hit a jumper to give the Cardinals a 61-60 lead with 1:14 left, the teams traded turnovers and Portia Velasco hit one of two free throws with three seconds left for the final margin.

University of New England won a first-round game for the third season in a row as Kelly Coleman scored a game-high 20 points and junior Meghan Gribbin made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 22 seconds to lift the Nor'easters to a 54-50 win vs. Catholic at FDU-Florham.

Eliza Campbell scored 29 points for UW-Oshkosh off the bench and the Titans weathered North Central's barrage of three-point attempts, 87-82. The Cardinals made 11 of 42 three-point attempts and the Titans converted 28 of 40 free throw attempts.

Hope got double-doubles from Maura McAfee (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Rebekah Llorens (18 and 10) and advanced past Bethel 75-63. Two of Bethel's starters fouled out with more than five minutes left and the Flying Dutch held off the Royals the rest of the way.