The University of Scranton women's basketball team, currently ranked 10th in the country, will take on #5 Bowdoin in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 contest on Friday evening. Opening tipoff between the Lady Royals and Polar Bears is set for 7:00 p.m. in the John Long Center.
#15 Messiah and #8 Tufts will play in Friday's first contest at 5:00 p.m. The two winners from Friday night will advance to the Elite 8 round which will be played on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. in the Long Center. Saturday's winner will earn a trip to the Final Four which will be held next weekend in Rochester, Minnesota.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for students & children (ages 2 & up) and seniors over the age of 61. Children under the age of two will be admitted at no charge. Tickets will only be sold at the gate on both Friday and Saturday as there will be no advanced ticket sales.
Scranton is making its fourth trip to the Sweet 16 in the past five years and third straight appearance and is also hosting the sectional round for the second time in the last three years. Last season, The Lady Royals fell to Tufts in the Sweet 16 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, a year after the Jumbos topped Scranton in the Elite 8 in the Long Center, 57-48. Scranton topped Christopher Newport 82-46 in the 2016 Sweet 16 on its home court.
The Lady Royals put a 28-1 record and a 23-game winning streak on the line Friday night against Bowdoin. Scranton punched its sixth straight and 31st overall NCAA Tournament bid by winning the Landmark Conference championship, 59-58 in overtime. The Lady Royals, who are 16-0 in the Long Center this season, hosted the first two rounds of the tournament and defeated Keuka (68-48) and Cabrini (55-46) to return to the Sweet 16.
Sophomore guard Makenzie Mason (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) is averaging a double-double with 13.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game while also dishing out a team-leading nine assists and blocking five shots through the first two games of the tournament to lead Scranton. Senior forward Katie Feehery (Media, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) leads all players in the tournament with an 84.6 field goal percentage and is averaging 11.0 points and 5.5 boards per game while also blocking five shots for the Lady Royals.
Junior guard Bridgette Mann (Canadensis, Pa./Wallenpaupack) is averaging 10.5 points per game in the tournament and a team-leading 15.4 points per game on the year while sophomore guard Emily Sheehan (Dunmore, Pa./Dunmore) came up with a big 14-point effort on Saturday as Scranton rallied past Cabrini.
Scranton is coached by Trevor Woodruff, who was named the 2017-18 Landmark Conference Coach of the Year in his third season at the helm of the Lady Royals. Woodruff has led the Lady Royals to the Sweet 16 in each of his three seasons with the program.
Bowdoin (26-2) is making its 17th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament and 13th trip to the Sweet 16 including three in the past four seasons. The Polar Bears earned at at-large bid to the big dance after falling to Tufts in the NESCAC semifinals, 60-48.
Bowdoin returns to the Sweet 16 after dominating its first two opponents, blowing past Husson, 94-32, in the first round before knocking off FDU-Florham in the second round, 79-57. The Polar Bears lead the tournament in scoring margin (42.0), scoring offense (86.5) and rebounding margin (16.5). They have also held their first two opponents to just 26.5 percent shooting from the floor while allowing just 44.5 points against per contest.
Senior guard Kate Kerrigan, who was named the NESCAC Player of the Year this season and was also the league's Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in her career, averages 10.5 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game while leading Bowdoin and the NESCAC with 114 assists and 73 steals. She is currently fourth in the tournament in steals and 11th in rebounding.
Junior guard Abby Kelly, a Second Team All-NESCAC selection, leads the Polar Bears in scoring with 11.7 points per game while junior guard has connected on 54 percent of her three-point attempts on the season including a 4-5 effort from long distance in the tournament.
Head coach Adrienne Shibles is in her 10th season as Bowdoin and has led the Polar Bears to nine NCAA Tournament appearances.
Scranton and Bowdoin are facing each other for the third time ever on Friday, with all three meetings coming in the Sweet 16. The Polar Bears topped the Lady Royals 71-58 in the 2004 sectional round on their way to a national championship game appearance. A year later, Scranton defeated Bowdoin 49-43 in the Long Center on its way to a trip to the Final Four.
In Friday evening's first Sweet 16 showdown, #15 Messiah (27-2) takes on #8 Tufts (25-4).
Messiah, led by head coach Mike Miller in his 32nd season, enter the sectional round with a 13-game winning streak that saw the Falcons secure their 18th trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 62-54 win over Albright in the MAC Commonwealth championship game. Messiah defeated Oberlin 64-54 in the first round before topping Emory & Henry 62-49 in the second round.
The Falcons are led by a pair of First Team All-Commonwealth honorees in Alecia Rohrer and Kaitlyn Hoff while Leah Springer and Maci Thornton, who is averaging 21.0 points per game in the tournament, were Second Team All-Commonwealth selections. Springer leads Messiah in scoring for the year with 14.6 points per game.
Tufts, guided by Carla Berube in her 16th year as head coach, are making their 10th trip to the NCAA Tournament including appearances in each of the past seven seasons. The Jumbos earned an at-large bid to the tournament after falling to Amherst in the NESCAC Championship game, 44-40.
Tufts topped Westfield State in the first round, 71-54, before moving on to the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in program history with a 61-39 victory over Ithaca.
The Jumbos are led by a pair of First Team All-NESCAC honorees: Melissa Baptista, who leads the team in points per game (13.2), rebounds per game (6.7), and blocks per game (1.8), and Lauren Dillon, who paces Tufts in assists per game (3.3), steals per game (2.3), and three-point field goal percentage (35.9). Additionally, Emily Briggs was named the NESCAC Rookie of the Year.
Scranton is 11-4 all-time against Messiah including a 65-60 overtime win over the Falcons on December 16 while the Lady Royals are 1-2 all-time against Tufts.
For more information about this weekend's sectional tournament, click here.
Game notes with complete information for all four teams playing at Scranton this weekend are available by clicking here.