Husson University women’s basketball coach Kissy Walker said her team’s opponent in Friday’s NCAA Division III Tournament opener, SUNY New Paltz (N.Y.), reminds her of one of Gary Fifield’s former University of Southern Maine powerhouse teams.
“They were all 5-foot-9 to 6 feet tall and they could all play inside or outside,” said Walker, whose 19-8 Eagles, making the program’s fifth straight NCAA appearance, face 24-3 SUNY New Paltz at 7:30 p.m.
Bowdoin College of Brunswick (25-2), national runner-up the last two years, begins its quest for the program’s first national title when its hosts Brooklyn College (21-6) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Husson and Bowdoin are the only Maine schools in the tournament. Each is playing the second game in their respective regional sessions.
DeSales of Pennsylvania (23-4) and Smith College of Massachusetts (24-4) will play the 5:30 p.m. opener at New Paltz while New York University (20-5) and Emmanuel College of Boston (21-7) play the 5 p.m. game in Brunswick.
New Paltz has won 13 in a row and is 13-0 on its home court and Husson has won 15 of its last 16 games.
“They all crash and boards and they all attack the basket. They’re physical,” Walker said of New Paltz. “We have to stop their penetration and rebound.”
Husson is led by 6-3 freshman center Bailey Donovan (14.7 points, 10.4 rebounds per game), sophomore guard Sydney Allen (11.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.5 assists, 1.6 steals) and senior guard Joan Overman (6.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.2 spg) along with senior center Sami Ireland (8 ppg, 4.3 rpg).
New Paltz has been paced by 5-9 senior guard Marion Dietz (13.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg), 5-10 senior forward Maddie Ven Pelt (13 ppg, 7 rpg, 2.5 spg) and 6-0 senior guard-forward Paige Niemeyer (9.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.9 spg, 1.8 blocks).
Bowdoin has been sparked by South Portland senior forward Maddie Hasson (16,7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2 apg, 2 spg), sophomore guard Sela Kay (12.3 ppg) and senior guard Samantha Roy (11.3 ppg, 5.3 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.7 spg).
Hasson is a finalist for the Jostens Trophy given to the Division III player who excels on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
Brooklyn features forward Chanel Jemmott (15.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg) and guards Taylor George (12.8 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.9 rpg) and Ericka James (10.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg).