PREVIEW: NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Elite Eight - Quarterfinals

PREVIEW: NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Elite Eight - Quarterfinals

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Saint Anselm College women's basketball team, fresh off its first-ever NCAA Division II Women's Basketball East Region Championship, has earned a trip to the Elite Eight and will battle nationally-ranked Southwestern Oklahoma State University on Tuesday, Mar. 26 at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on the campus of Ohio Dominican University.

The seventh-seeded Hawks will face-off against the second-seeded and nationally-ranked Bulldogs, who enter play with the second-longest active NCAA Division II winning streak at 33 games. Saint Anselm has posted a streak of its own, toppling three higher-seeded programs to claim the East Region title. Before recording those victories, Saint Anselm was a combined 0-6 against Bentley, Stonehill and Le Moyne in 2018-19.
 
Saint Anselm, entering play with a 22-5 overall record, is one of only two schools (Nova Southeastern) to be sending both of its basketball programs to the Elite Eight this season. In all-time NCAA Division II history, it is only the 11th and 12th times this has occurred. The Hawks also reached 22 wins for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign and have tallied at least 17 wins in each of the last four seasons.
 
Southwestern Oklahoma State, winners of the Central Region championship, own an overall record of 33-1 with their lone loss coming in its season opener. The Bulldogs have registered 59 wins over the past two seasons, the sixth-most by any Division II women's basketball program in that span. The Hawks do have a history of ending lengthy winning streaks, snapping a 29-game stretch of wins over Bentley in the 1990-91 season.
 
SAINT ANSELM TEAM TIDBITS
  • Including this season, the Hawks have made eight appearances at the NCAA Division II Championship, owning a 7-7 overall record thanks to three victories in the NCAA Division II East Region tournament.
  • Saint Anselm had previously made trips to the regional finals on three occasions before finally earning its first-ever East Region title this past week.
  • Saint Anselm's victory over Bentley in the NCAA East Region First Round was its first over a nationally-ranked opponent since Jan. 11, 2014, a 61-55 victory against the Panthers from Adelphi University at home. The Hawks had not won a contest against a ranked opponent away from Stoutenburgh Gymnasium since Mar. 10, 1995, a 79-74 overtime win against Bentley in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Against Mass.-Lowell in the First Round of the 1991 East Regional, the Hawks made seven of their nine attempts from beyond the arc to set the NCAA Championship record at the time. It has since been equaled on two occasions.
  • The Hawks have not faced any of the other seven teams in this year's NCAA Division II Elite Eight in program history. Saint Anselm and Indiana (Pa.) are the longest-tenured NCAA Division II programs in the tournament, having competed in the division since 1982.
  • As an institution, Saint Anselm remains in search of its first-ever NCAA National Championship. The Hawks finished last season as the national runner-up in softball (2018), falling to Southern Indiana in the best-of-three championship series in Salem, Va.
  • With 22 victories to date, the Hawks have recorded its most wins in one season since 1994-95 (25-6). Saint Anselm has won 22 or more games on only six occasions (1982-83, 1985-86, 1989-90, 1990-91, 1993-94, 1994-95) prior to this year.
  • Saint Anselm enters Tuesday's game with the fourth-best three-point field goal defense in NCAA Division II, limiting opponents to only 25.9% from beyond the arc. 
  • The Hawks are averaging 44.3 rebounds per game to date, the 11th most in NCAA Division II and the second most in team history - the all-time record for Saint Anselm is the 45.1 caroms per contest recorded in 1984-85.
  • Saint Anselm has combined for 936 defensive rebounds in 2018-19, far and away the most in team history. The squad's 30.2 defensive boards per game is 13th in NCAA Division II and the team's record by two whole rebounds per game (28.2, 2015-16).
  • The Hawks defense is allowing their opponents to shoot exactly 35.3% from the floor on the season, a single-season team record, and it is a mark that ranks 17th in NCAA Division II entering the Elite Eight.
  • When playing on the road and including neutral-site games, Saint Anselm is 13-4 after recording wins in each of its nine contests away from Stoutenburgh Gymnasium to begin the season. The Hawks last recorded 10 victories on the road in 2015-16 and have only accomplished that feat in five prior seasons. The all-time record for wins away from home (including neutral site game) is 14 (14-5, 1994-95).
STUDENT-ATHLETE SNIPPETS
  • Junior Shannon Ryan (Plattsburgh, N.Y.), a First Team All-Conference and First Team All-Region selection, is averaging a career-high 18.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. She ranks fifth in program history in scoring average (min. 20 games) and second in rebounds per game.
  • Ryan ranks second nationally with 22 double-doubles, trailing only Southern Connecticut State's Kiana Steinauer. Her 12 rebounds per game is the seventh-best figure in NCAA Division II.
  • Ryan also is ranked among the top 25 nationally in many statistical categories, including defensive rebounds per game (15th - 8.0), blocked shots (17th - 77), offensive rebounds per game (20th - 4.0) and blocked shots per game (22nd - 2.48).
  • In her team's NE10 Semifinals loss to Bentley, Ryan set two single-season program records. She broke Andrea Sunday's previous single-season record of 344 rebounds in 1994-95 and currently has 372 rebounds (125o-247d) through 31 games.
  • Ryan also recorded her 230th field goal versus the Falcons, passing Kristen Skoglund and her mark of 229 set in 1995-96. 
  • Ryan has 574 points scored this season, the second-best mark in program history, and she needs only two offensive rebounds against the Bulldogs to set the single-season record of 127.
  • Ryan currently stands as the program's all-time leading rebounder with 11.5 rebounds per game and ranks fourth among NCAA Division II student-athletes with 10.8 career caroms per game (including her games played at Boston College in 2016-17).
  • Entering play with 689 rebounds, Ryan needs only 11 more to become the institution's 11th student-athlete to reach the 700-rebound plateau. No student-athlete at Saint Anselm has reached that figure in only two seasons.
  • Ryan's 18.4 points per game in a Hawks uniform is second all-time, trailing only Linda Dunn's mark of 19.2 across 81 games from 1980-84. Her 133 career blocks are the fourth-most all-time and her 689 career rebounds are the 12th most in program history.
  • Sophomore Peyton Steinman (Pittsfield, Mass.) owns the nation's ninth-best free throw percentage (89.0%) entering Tuesday's game. She has made 121 of her 136 attempts from the charity stripe, registering the best single-season free-throw performance in team history (min. 100 made).
  • Ranking seventh in the NE10 in minutes played per game (34.5), she is in the midst of a breakout season, scoring 14.3 points per game while averaging 5.8 rebounds per contest, both career-high marks. 
  • She has reached double-digit scoring totals in all but seven of her 31 games on the season.
  • Steinman's 86.2% free-throw percentage (193-for-224) is the second-best mark in team history, trailing only Kerri Lang '91 and her 87.6% mark from 1987-91. Lang was 369-for-421 during her career and, at one point, made 44 consecutive free throws.
  • Junior Sara Messler (Durham, N.H.) has notched 9.4 points per game, a career-best total. She notched 14 points across 38 minutes of action against Stonehill in the East Region semifinals, helping her team with six field goals, the most in one game since Jan. 23 at home against Pace.
  • Messler has seen an uptick in her playing time, logging at least 32 minutes on each of her past four games for the Hawks. During that stretch, she is tallying exactly 10 points per game with six caroms per contest.
  • Junior Julia Thissell (Hopkinton, Mass.) regularly subs in for Ryan during the season. She has averaged 4.5 points per game for the Hawks in what is her first full season after being sidelined due to injury as a sophomore transfer from NCAA Division I Providence.
  • Senior captain Ashley Briggs (Scarborough, Maine) is in the midst of a stellar fourth season on the Hilltop, setting career-high marks for points per game (4.9), minutes per game (28.5), games started (31), rebounds per game (2.2) and assists per game (2.6). She is joined in the backcourt by classmate Michaela Martin (Haverhill, Mass.) – she has also set career-highs in rebounds per game (2.1).
  • Sophomore Grace Guachione (Pittsfield, Mass.) ranks fourth on the team in point scoring (7.5) after missing some time near the midpoint of the season to injury.
  • Senior Emma Daly (Pearl River, N.Y.) is a three-point threat off the bench for the Hawks, making 30 of her 81 attempts from beyond the arc this season. She holds the program record for three's made in one game with nine, accomplishing that feat against Mercy (N.Y.) on Nov. 12, 2016.
  • Daly is nine three-point baskets away from reaching 100 across her four-year career. She would become the 10th student-athlete in program history to reach that milestone.
  • Freshman Eva Mazur (South Portland, Maine) has dished out 63 assists on the season and averages just shy of 20 minutes played per game. She has also thrown up 15 rejections, tying for second on the team while recording 33 takeaways.
  • Sophomore Kaitlyn Petrocelli (Merrimack, N.H.) has seen action in 22 games to date, averaging 2.0 points per game while shooting nearly 85% from the line in limited action (11-for-13). She is shooting 17-for-36 (47.2%) from the floor.
  • Sophomore Jenoyce Laniyan (Bedford, N.H.) has averaged 2.3 rebounds per game in only 6.3 minutes played per contest.
  • Sophomore Jen Peel (Mansfield, Mass.) is averaging just shy of one point per game and has dished out 18 assists against only 13 turnovers.
  • Freshman Stephanie Jankovic (Averill Park, N.Y.) played for one of the top "Class A" programs in New York State, captaining the Averill Park Warriors to a sectional title. She notched a career-high 11 points against Bloomfield on Nov. 10, making three shots from beyond the arc.

BULLDOG BRIEFS

  • Southwestern Oklahoma State is also making its first-ever NCAA Division II Elite Eight appearance, claiming the Central Region title with wins over Emporia State, Central Missouri and Fort Hays State in the regional tournament.
  • The Bulldogs' 33-game winning streak is the nation's second-longest active streak, trailing top-seeded Drury's active streak of 34 consecutive wins without a loss to begin its 2018-19 season.
  • Southwestern Oklahoma State ranks first in the nation in both free throw attempts (806) and free throws made (614). The team is also nationally recognized as a three-point threat, making the third-most treys (319) and averaging the eighth-most "make's" in the country (9.4).
  • The team's assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.32 is seventh in NCAA Division II and the squad's 12.6 takeaways per contest is also among the top-10 teams in the country. The Bulldogs are owners of a 9.97 turnover margin, the third-best mark among qualifying programs.
  • The Bulldogs average 84.7 points per game, the fourth-best scoring offense in the country.
  • Southwestern Oklahoma State's roster boasts the top two scorers in Great American Conference history, Hailey Tucker and Hayden Priddy. Tucker surpassed 2,300 career points in the Central Region final and Priddy earned Most Outstanding Player honors.
  • Tucker leads all of NCAA Division II in minutes played (1,211), averaging 18.6 points per game. She ranks 11th in NCAA Division II in field goals attempted (501) and also gets to the foul line with great regularity, making 179 free throws to rank fifth in the country. She converts at the charity stripe at an 86.1% clip, the 29th best mark in the land.
  • Priddy ranks second in the nation with 85 three-point baskets made to date, shooting just shy of 40% from beyond the arc. She averages exactly 2.5 treys per contest and owns a 1.74 assist-to-turnover ratio, handing out nearly three-and-a-half helpers per game.
  • Bethany Franks is a standout defensive player for the Bulldogs, recording 2.75 takeaways per game to rank 20th in the nation and second in the Great American Conference. She also secures 8.7 rebounds per game, leading the GAC and ranking in the top-100 of NCAA Division II.

MEET THE COACHES

  • Saint Anselm head coach Corey Boilard was named the seventh Head Women's Basketball Coach on Jun. 8, 2017 and is in the midst of his second season piloting the Hawks.
  • To date, Boilard has registered a 39-21 (.650) record across 60 games on the Hilltop.
  • After a 17-win campaign in his first season, the Hawks have lost only nine of their 31 games in 2018-19. Saint Anselm has made the Northeast-10 Conference postseason in four consecutive seasons.
  • Boilard owns a 123-74 overall record between his time with the Hawks and NCAA Division III Johnson & Wales (R.I.). With the Wildcats, Boilard's teams went 62-22 (.738) overall in his last three seasons, making two NCAA Tournament appearances overall.
  • He was named Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Coach of the Year in 2015-16, guiding the Wildcats to a 24-4 record. He has also assisted teams at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Plymouth State.
  • Recruited in his alma mater's final season at the NCAA Division II level, Boilard graduated from Keene State College in 2000 with a degree in Physical Education with a specialization in health fitness and promotion.
  • Assistant Coach Colleen Moriarty is in her third season at Saint Anselm, joining the squad in 2016-17. She came to the Hilltop from Mass.-Boston where she assisted the Beacons, an NCAA Division III program, for two seasons.
  • Moriarty was a standout women's basketball player at Mass.-Dartmouth, graduating in 2013 as the Little East Conference's (LEC) Player of the Year.
  • Kelsi Musick is in her 10th season at the helm of the Bulldogs women's basketball program. Starting her career with a 3-24 overall record in 2009-10, she has constructed a team that has won at least 20 games in six of her 10 seasons and has qualified for three NCAA Division II tournaments.
  • She is a three-time GAC Coach of the Year award winner and has coaching experience at Fresno State after a four-year playing career at Cameron. She owns a career head coaching record of 189-107 (.639).