MEDFORD - Four conference champions will go to battle on Tufts University's Cousens Gymnasium floor tonight as the 2015 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship gets underway.
For the fourth straight year, Tufts is hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament this weekend (March 6-7) at Cousens.
In Friday's first round games, St. John Fisher College (21-6) will face Skidmore College (17-10) at 5 pm followed by the Jumbos (26-1) versus Pine Manor College (13-9) at 7 pm. The winners will meet in the second round on Saturday at 5 pm.
Ticket prices will be $6 for adults and $4 for students and seniors. Tufts students are free with their university ID. Tickets will only be available on the day of the games.
If you can't come to Cousens, Tufts is offering live video and statistics coverage of all three games. Those can be accessed at the following links for Friday's games:
Friday, March 6
The official NCAA Tournament Program is available online here.
Links for Saturday's second-round game will be available after tonight's results.
Watch for recaps and post-game interviews to be posted at GoTuftsJumbos.com following tonight's games.
Tufts was selected as a Regional host again after head coach Carla Berube's team won their second straight NESCAC title. The Jumbos defeated Bowdoin, 68-52, at Cousens on Sunday. That earned the team an automatic NCAA berth, the seventh for the program all in the last eight years.
"It's a great feeling to be hosting again," said Tufts head coach Carla Berube. "It's been a goal of ours from the very beginning of the season to do our job and to put ourselves in a postion to get these first two rounds at home. I'm proud of the way the team has played all season through some adversity and to have this seed with the first two rounds at home is really awesome."
Pine Manor advances to its first-ever NCAA Tournament following a 65-54 win over Agnes Scott College in the Great South Athletic Conference final. St. John Fisher, making its 15th NCAA appearance but first since 2006, won the Empire 8 with an 86-84 overtime victory against Ithaca. Skidmore is also making its NCAA debut after taking the Liberty League crown in a thrilling 67-62 doublue-overtime final versus St. Lawrence.
"We definitely have some talented teams coming in here," Berube said. "We know a little bit about Pine Manor just because they are a team in this region and play a lot of opponents that we have played. We know Skidmore a little bit too because we know some of their players and we went to the Skidmore tournament a couple of years ago. It's going to be a challenging weekend and we will get prepared in the next three days to be ready."
The Jumbos have won four NCAA Regional titles (2008, 2012-14). Last season they captured their first NCAA Sectional titles and advanced to the NCAA "Final Four" in Wisconsin. Tufts has a 13-7 record overall in NCAA play.
St. John Fisher College also has an NCAA "Final Four" resume, finishing as the national runner-up in 1988 and 1990.
All four of this weekend's participants have team statistics that rank among the top 10 in Division III. Tufts is the #1 defensive team in the country allowing 46.4 points per game. Interestingly, Pine Manor is ninth nationally in scoring offense at 79.4 points per game. The Jumbos also rank eighth in blocked shots per game (6.3) and the Gators are ninth with 8.3 three-point field goals made per game.
In the other first-round match-up, Skidmore's 33 defensive rebounds per game average is the third-best mark in the nation. Saint John Fisher has a 10th-ranked NCAA mark of +8.59 in turnover margin.