* The ECC first round games were in the spotlight on Wednesday with one road team and one home team coming out on top...
* St. Thomas Aquinas parlayed an 18-0 third period explosion into a 62-53 victory over Bridgeport in Sparkill, ensuring the #3 seed will move onto the ECC semifinals. It was the Purple Knights who got off to the better start, though, racing to a 10-0 lead out of the chute. The Spartans worked their way back into the game and drew even a couple of times before going into the half trailing by a 27-24 count. Alex Bertolino (14 points, 4-6 3FG) knotted the game for STAC out of the break with a triple but Samnell Vonleh (9 points, 7 boards) put UB ahead for the last time with a bucket at the 8:56 mark of the third quarter, 29-27. Bridgeport then suffered through a drought of more than seven minutes; in the meantime Jenna Erickson (12 points, 6 assists) netted eight points in the decisive 18-0 Spartan run and STAC had a 45-29 lead late in the third period. Bertolino opened the fourth quarter with another trey to make it a 52-34 game and STAC seemed home and dry but UB battled back. Camera Miley (19 points) recorded a dozen points in a 19-4 Bridgeport binge to pull the visitors within one possession, 56-53, with 1:43 to go. That was the extent of the run, though, as UB never scored again and STAC went 6-8 at the foul line in the last minute to ice the result. Samantha Burden added 10 points and Kaitlyn McCue hauled in a dozen rebounds off the bench for St. Thomas Aquinas, who shot almost as well from three-point land (8-18 3FG) than they did at the line (12-23 FT). Aside of Miley and Vonleh, who combined to notch half of UB's twenty field goals, the Purple Knights struggled to score (nobody else had more than six points). The Spartans face #2 seed Molloy in Saturday's ECC semifinals in Bridgeport.
* NYIT (the #5 seed) led from start-to-finish in Rochester and handed #4 seed Roberts Wesleyan an 80-69 setback in the other ECC clash to lock up a date with top seed Queens on Saturday in the semifinals. The Bears claimed a quick 9-0 lead and never looked back, putting up an 8-0 run later in the first period to extend their lead to 23-6. The Redhawks responded with a 15-2 surge to pull within 25-21 (7:39 of the second quarter) and stayed in touch thereafter. NYIT led 44-36 at the half and stretched it to 60-47 at the end of the third quarter thanks to an 8-2 closing flurry. RWC again responded, posting an 8-2 run of their own to get within 70-67 with 3:13 left in the contest. Once again the Bears were equal to the task, ended the night on a 10-2 surge, fueled by an 8-10 showing at the foul line down the wire. Margaret Knollmeyer had a big game to lead NYIT (19 points and a career-high 23 rebounds) and she had solid aid from the rest of the starters, all of whom reached double digits. Nina Vukosavljevic (17 points, 8 boards, 5 assists), Shanice Allen (17 points, 6 rebounds) and Tiara Place (12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) were all active and Sofia Georgiadi submitted a double-double (12 points, 10 caroms) in support of Knollmeyer, helping the Bears win for the first time ever at RWC. The Redhawks were topped by strong efforts from Taya Andrews (20 points, 8 rebounds), Emily Miller (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Lucy Covley (11 points, 8 rebounds) but never quite overcame the early deficit. NYIT made amends for poor three-point shooting (3-15 3FG) with a big advantage at the line (NYIT 21-30 FT; RWC 8-14 FT) and won the glass by a large margin (59-45) to help them prevail and advance.
* The NCAA Division II East regional poll was released yesterday for the final time prior to the tournament field being revealed on Sunday night. Queens has taken over the top spot, swapping places with Adelphi. The same thing happened in the next two spots (Caldwell passing Bentley for #3) and the two after that (Molloy moving above the University of the Sciences for 5th place). #7-#10 stay the same (Assumption, St. Anselm, AIC and Bloomfield).