October 18, 2021

Red Dragon women earn at-large bid

NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball

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The SUNY Cortland women’s basketball team has been selected to compete in the 64-team NCAA Division III tournament and will open play against host Western New England University Friday.

Friday’s other first-round game at Western New England features Tufts University (26-1) versus SUNY Poly (20-7). Friday’s winners will play Saturday at Western New England, with that winner advancing to the tournament’s “Sweet 16.” Game time and ticket info will be announced later. The Cortland-Western New England game is scheduled to be the second game on Friday.

The Red Dragons (21-6), led by second-year head coach Jacey Brooks, will be making their 11th NCAA tournament appearance overall and first since 2010. Cortland earned one of 20 “Pool C” at-large berths into the tournament, which go to schools that did not earn their conference’s NCAA automatic berths. Cortland finished second in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) regular season (14-4) and advanced to the league tournament championship game before losing at New Paltz.

Cortland senior guard Beth Bonin is averaging 18.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 assists per game. She’s shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and 87 percent from the foul line. Freshman forward Nyia Longford averages 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, junior guard Shannon McGuire averages 9.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.0 steals and freshman guard/forward Sarah Tully averages 7.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Western New England (21-5) is a tournament at-large selection. The Golden Bears lost to the University of New England in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) semifinals last Thursday after earning the league’s regular-season crown with a 14-2 mark. WNEU is making its second straight NCAA showing. Last year, in their first- ever NCAA appearance, the CCC champion Golden Bears lost at Tufts in the opening round.

Tufts is ranked first in the latest D3hoops.com national poll. The Jumbos suffered their first loss of the season to Bowdoin in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship game this past Sunday and earned a tournament at-large berth. Tufts is making its eighth straight NCAA appearance and 12th overall. The Jumbos were national runner-up in 2016 and 2017, a semifinalist in 2014 and 2015, and a quarterfinalist each of the last two seasons as well as in 2008.

SUNY Poly was an automatic qualifier after winning the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) title for the fourth time in the last five seasons with a win Sunday over Morrisville State. The Wildcats have made three previous NCAA tournament appearances. They advanced to the second round in 2017.

Cortland has never faced either Western New England or Tufts. The Red Dragons have played numerous times versus SUNY Poly, which was known at different times as Utica/Rome or SUNYIT before changing to its current name in the 2014-15 season. Cortland leads the overall series with the Wildcats, 33-4, including a win in Cortland this season.