The St. Thomas Aquinas College women's basketball team joins the 64-team field at the NCAA Division II Tournament, with their first East Regional contest coming against Caldwell University on Friday at 7:30 pm at Stonehill College.
How They Got Here - The Lady Spartans enter their first NCAA Tournament since 2003 with a 26-4 record, earning the automatic bid by virtue of winning their first ever East Coast Conference Tournament. Jenna Erickson followed on her ECC Player of the Year honors by earning the Most Outstanding Player in the tourney for her performance in victories over Roberts Wesleyan and NYIT.
Caldwell heads into the NCAAs with a 24-6 overall record, which includes a 16-3 record in CACC action. They captured a dominant first round CACC win over Chestnut Hill before falling to U of the Sciences, who went on to win the conference title and is in the regional as the #3 seed. On the strength of their regular-season performance, Caldwell earned an at large bid to come in at #5.
The Match-up - These teams met during the regular season, with STAC grabbing an 86-54 decision at Aquinas Hall on November 29, 2017 (box score, recap). Erickson led the way with 19 points in that contest, with Emily Preston chipping in 13 to go with eight rebounds. Karlie O'Driscoll was the lone Cougar scorer in double-figures with 12. STAC broke a 6-6 tie with a 14-5 run over the last four minutes of the 1st quarter, opened a 42-22 halftime lead and never looked back.
Erickson Leads the Charge– Aside from her immense talent, Erickson has been incredibly durable during her four years at STAC. She has played in all 120 Lady Spartans games since she joined the program, starting in 118 of them. Entering tonight’s game she has started 68 straight, with her last non-start on February 2, 2016.
Named as this season’s ECC Player of the Year, Jenna has recorded 1,806 career points and is second on the ECC All-Time list in three-point field goals made. Interestingly, that record was eclipsed by the current holder, Lucy Covley of Roberts Wesleyan College, meaning the Erickson passed the record that was held entering this season.
Defense Never Slumps – STAC allowed just 92 points in two ECC Tournament games for an average of 46.0 per game, a testament to their tenacious defense throughout the season. The Lady Spartans have allowed 53.4 points per game, currently ranked #2 in the Nation in the NCAA Division II ranks.
Players to Watch - In addition to Erickson, STAC is led by Adiya Henderson, who was named Defensive Player of the Year in addition to her Second Team All-ECC status. Kristen Drogsler (15.9 ppg) led the Cougars in scoring and was named to the CACC First-Team, while Sharell Sanders was the conference's Defensive Player of the Year as well as a Second-Team selection.
2018 NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN'S BASKETBALL EAST REGION
1)– Stonehill College (26-3, 20-1 NE10) (at large)
2) – Bentley University (27-3, 18-3 NE10) (NE10 Tournament Champions -automatic bid)
3) – University of the Sciences in Philadephia (28-3, 17-2 CACC) (CACC Tournament Champions - automatic bid)
4) – St Thomas Aquinas College (26-4, 16-2 ECC) (ECC Tournament Champions - automatic bid)
5) – Caldwell University (24-6, 16-3 CACC) (at large)
6) – LIU Post (22-7, 17-2 ECC) (at large)
7) – Jefferson University (26-5, 16-3 CACC) (at large bid)
8) - Southern Connecticut State University (21-9, 14-6 NE10) (at large bid)
NCAA DIVISION II EAST REGIONAL SCHEDULE
QUARTERFINALS – FRIDAY, MARCH 9, 2018
#6 LIU Post (22-7, 17-2 ECC) vs. #3 USciences (28-3, 17-2 CACC), Noon
#7 Jefferson (26-5, 16-3 CACC) vs. #2 Bentley (27-3, 18-3 NE10), 2:30 p.m.
#8 Southern Connecticut State (21-9, 14-6 NE10) at #1 Stonehill (26-3, 20-1 NE10), 5 p.m.
#5 Caldwell (24-6, 16-3 CACC) vs. #4 St. Thomas Aquinas (26-4, 16-2 ECC), 7:30 p.m.
SEMIFINALS – SATURDAY, MARCH 10, 2018
#3-#6 winner vs. #2-#7 winner 5:00 pm
#1-#8 winner vs. #4-#5 winner, 7:30 pm
CHAMPIONSHIP – MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2014, 7 p.m.