Six undefeated teams remain atop the charts in DII Women’s Basketball. Amongst them are the red hot American International Yellow Jackets
The Yellow Jackets entered the USA Today Coaches Poll last week at No. 21 at 13-0 for the first time this season. Two more wins this week sees them at No. 20 in the nation and atop the tough Northeast-10 at 15-0 with an impressive 8-0 conference mark
The run seemingly began last season. After a slow start that saw AIC sitting at 3-8, the Yellow Jackets caught fire and became one of the hottest teams in the league. They would finish the season at 18-14, making it all the way to the NE-10 Tournament Finals game, knocking off Stonehill (a Sweet 16 team a year ago) and New Haven (an Elite Eight team in ’15) along the way, before falling to conference champion Adelphi
“We had a lot of experience with a good mix of freshman coming in,” Yellow Jackets head coach Kristen Hutchinson said. “We have been talking all year that this is our revenge season. We started out so slow and didn’t make the [NCAA] tournament, so we kind of had that chip on our shoulder
“Our seniors went through all of last season, and they we’re so close to winning the [NE-10] championship that I think they just really, really want it this year.”
They have had some signature wins this season, defeating Adelphi 71-40 and then-No. 15 Queens College 59-54. They have done it behind their signature defense, one that has combined to allow just 51 points a night, good for No. 2 in the nation
“We switch defenses up a lot,” Hutchinson said. “We’re athletic and we’re long. I think we keep teams off balance with our size and our athleticism. We try to make things as difficult as we can for our opponents and make them work for their baskets.”
They also have done it with a sound offense and the sharp shooting of senior guard Brianna Bishop. Bishop, who has been playing with a mask for the past four games after breaking her nose in early January, is seemingly unfazed as she dropped 25 and 20 points respectively this past week in AIC’s two victories
“She’s probably the best shooter in our conference,” Hutchinson said. “She may work harder than any player I have ever coached. All the points that she gets, she earns them. She’s our leader, she’s our captain and she drives our team to be competitive.”
It doesn’t get much easier for the Yellow Jackets in the coming week. First, they take on Franklin Pierce (7-5; 4-4) on Wednesday and then Bentley (12-2; 6-2) on Saturday, who is currently in first place by a half game in the NE-10 Northeast Division
“It doesn’t matter if you play the first place team in our league or the last place team, we know it’s going to be a war,” Hutchinson said of the remaining schedule. “Our league is very physical, it usually comes down to who has the rebounding edge and who gets to the free throw line a little bit more. It gets us ready for the tournament playing in our conference and being so competitive.”
So with AIC off to a hot start, they have to have their eyes focused on ending their seven-year drought from the NCAA tournament. It would be a great way for the seven seniors to go out and fuel the fire for the younger players waiting in the wings
“Just to have the girls get that experience would be great. Once they reach the tournament, the next class wants to reach that,” Hutchinson explained. “It’s the building blocks for your program. I’m excited for them to hopefully get that experience of playing in the tournament.”
No. 1 continues to roll
West Texas A&M continued their run through the LSC. The Lady Buffs had a big week, winning three Lone Star Conference games and improving to 15-0 on the season.
They first beat Midwestern State 85-68 before winning back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a huge 59-41 victory to claim sole possession of first place in the LSC over Texas Woman’s handing them their first conference loss of the season.
They then completed the season sweep of Cameron (third place in LSC) on Sunday 76-52.
Zantaya Davis was the LSC Defensive Player of the Week. She did it behind an impressive 21 rebounds, 10 blocks and two steals over those three games. She — along with Sahsa Watson and Madison Parker who have already claimed their own DPOW awards — lead a spectacular defense that has limited opponents to 51.3 points a night (third in the nation) while not allowing a team to shoot 40% against them yet on the season for a .337 FG% against (17th in the nation).
Eagles soar to top of the GLIAC
Ashland, who jumped four spots to land in the top ten at No. 7 a week ago, staked their claim as the top team in the GLIAC. A two win week improves the Eagles to No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches poll and 14-0, including 8-0 in the GLIAC
The week started with a big win against Northern Michigan 75-49 and ended with a victory against North Division leaders Michigan Tech. Ashland used a big third quarter to build some separation from a game tied at the half.
“Michigan Tech in this league is always who you judge yourself by,” Ashland Athletic Director Al King said. “They’re well coached, they’re good athletes, and they play real great defense. We held on and won. We’re playing very well. We knew we’d be good, but we didn’t know we’d be undefeated this late in the season.”
The Eagles starting lineup features just one senior, guard McKenzie Miller, who currently leads the team with 4.6 assists a night. 6 foot 1 sophomore center Laina Snyder had a huge week leading the charge with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 5 steals against Northern Michigan and followed it up with 19 points and 9 rebounds against Michigan Tech. Snyder and sophomore forward Andi Daugherty lead the Eagles with 15.4 points a night
It is the first time in program’s history that the Men (No. 17 in the NABC Coaches Poll) and Women are ranked in the nation’s top 25 at the same time
Queens University continues to roll atop the Swimming Polls
The Royals, who were the top ranked Women’s Swim team in the nation heading into the holiday break, came out where they left off — with a victory
Queens defeated Lenoir-Rhyne 127 to 112, finishing tops in every event, while setting two records on the day
Senior Caroline Arakelian and sophomore Patricia Castro-Ortega would make history with their record setting performances. Castro-Ortega’s 2:04.73 in the 200 individual medley would become the No. 1 time while Arakalien’s 2:00.05 in the 200 backstroke set a pool record
The Royals head to Austin this weekend for the 2016 Arena Pro Series