Williamstown, Mass. - The NESCAC Quarterfinals are set for Saturday, February 22 with all games on the campus of the higher seeds. The semifinals will take place on February 29 and the championship game slated for March 1, with all three games being played on the campus of the highest remaining seed.
This Saturday at 3:00 PM, No. 5 Trinity (16-8, 5-5 NESCAC) will travel to take on No. 4 Williams (17-7, 6-4 NESCAC). The Ephs will host a quarterfinal game for the first time since 2015, which was also the last time Williams was a No. 4 seed. Williams has qualified for the NESCAC Championship every year, while Trinity is making its third straight NESCAC Championship appearance and 14th overall. The Bantams are the No. 5 seed for the first time since 2009 and are looking for their first tournament win since 2014. The Ephs came away with a win in the 2006 quarterfinals in the lone meeting between the two teams in the NESCAC Championship series.
When describing Trinity, the first word that came to mind for Eph head coach Pat Manning was "explosive." Though Williams earned an 83-76 win over Trinity on February 1 during the regular season, in which guard Emily Chang '20 scored a career-high 30 points on 8-for-11 three-point shooting, the Ephs will have to adjust on both offense and defense in order to defeat the Bantams for a second time. Said Manning, "This week, we're focusing on us on both ends of the floor. We've got to clean up a few things defensively, and offensively, we've got to work on moving the ball well to get the best shots."
The Ephs will come into the postseason having recently played some of their best basketball of the season. In their final two games of the regular season, the Ephs overcame a superb 45-point effort by Bates' Meghan Graff to seize an 84-81 overtime win, and then held undefeated Tufts close for three quarters before falling behind in the fourth. "I feel like we've been putting it together," noted Manning. "You want to play well going into the postseason, and I've been really happy with where we've been in the last few weeks."
Tufts, who defeated the Ephs last Saturday to clinch an unbeaten (10-0) record during the NESCAC regular season, grabbed the top seed in the 2020 NESCAC Women's Basketball Championship. The Jumbos, the defending NESCAC Champion, are the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2016 and the fifth time in program history. Tufts' clean slate in the NESCAC marks the seventh straight year a team has posted an undefeated regular-season record.
Tufts (24-0) is playing in the NESCAC Championship for the 18th consecutive year and will host a quarterfinal game for the 10th year in a row. The Jumbos will face No. 8 Wesleyan (14-10, 4-6 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. Bates and Wesleyan both finished 4-6 in the conference. In head-to-head competition, Bates defeated Wesleyan, 65-56 on January 12, to earn the No. 7 seed. Wesleyan has qualified for the NESCAC Championship for the third straight year and is the No. 8 seed for the first time since 2014. Tufts improved to 3-0 versus Wesleyan in the NESCAC Tournament with a win in the 2014 quarterfinals. This season, Tufts and Wesleyan squared off on the opening weekend of conference play on January 10, with the Jumbos earning a 78-60 win.
Amherst (21-3, 8-2 NESCAC) and Bowdoin (22-2, 8-2 NESCAC) finished the conference slate with matching 8-2 records. In head-to-head competition, Amherst defeated Bowdoin, 59-46 on February 7, to earn the No. 2 seed. Amherst, which is making its 17th straight appearance in the NESCAC Championship, enters the tournament riding a five-game win streak. The Mammoths are the No. 2 seed for the second year in a row and will host a quarterfinal for the 14th consecutive year when they face No. 7 Bates (13-11, 4-6 NESCAC). The Bobcats are the No. 7 seed for the first time since 2016 and are in the NESCAC Championship field for the first time since 2017 and 14th time overall. The Bobcats enter the tournament having won four of their last five regular-season games. Amherst is 4-2 against Bates in the NESCAC Championship series. The two squads last met in the 2017 quarterfinals, with the Mammoths coming away victorious.
Bowdoin, the 2019 NESCAC Runner-Up, is the No. 3 seed for the first time since 2017 and has qualified for every NESCAC Tournament. The Polar Bears, who started the season 19-0, will host a quarterfinal game for the seventh year in a row and face No. 6 Hamilton (15-9, 5-5 NESCAC). Trinity and Hamilton finished the NESCAC schedule with identical conference records of 5-5. In head-to-head competition, Trinity defeated Hamilton, 74-71, in double overtime in the regular-season finale to earn the No. 5 seed. The Continentals are in the NESCAC Championship field for the first time since 2015 and are making their third tournament appearance since joining the NESCAC in basketball in 2011-12. The No. 6 seed is the highest in program history and Hamilton has recorded its most NESCAC wins in a season (5) since joining the conference. Bowdoin and Hamilton have never met in the NESCAC Championship. The Polar Bears defeated the Continentals, 89-74, on February 8.
The Williams vs. Trinity matchup completes the NESCAC slate for the weekend.
"In the postseason, everyone's good," remarked Manning. "We just have to focus on ourselves and execute on both ends of the floor. We're excited to build on our performance this past weekend and take it into Saturday."
Results for the NESCAC Women's Basketball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.
Quarterfinals - Saturday, February 22
at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Wesleyan at No. 1 Tufts - 2:00 p.m.
No. 7 Bates at No. 2 Amherst - 2:00 p.m.
No. 6 Hamilton at No. 3 Bowdoin - 3:00 p.m.
No. 5 Trinity at No. 4 Williams - 3:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, February 29
at Highest Remaining Seed
Lowest Remaining Seed vs. Highest Remaining Seed - 2:00 p.m.
Other Quarterfinal Winners - 4:00 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 1
at Semifinal Host
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.