By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIS (CBS) – The Division III NCAA Tournament gets started this weekend for both the men and the women. On the women’s side locally, Gwynedd-Mercy College has earned a big after winning the Colonial States Athletic Conference. The Griffins will take on Mount St. Mary College out of New York in the first round Friday at 6:00pm. The game will be played on the campus of Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania.
The Griffins bring a 20-7 record into the tournament and they come in hot. Gwynedd-Mercy has won 15 of its last 16 games. Head coach Keith Mondillo talks about it all coming together.
“I knew we had a good team going into it (the season), but we we’re just going to be young. It was just finding that niche, finding those combinations that would work on the floor. Beginning of the year, we weren’t bad, but we just didn’t hit our stride yet. I think midway through the year, when we changed some things up, it really helped us.”
One big reason Gwynedd-Mercy is here is their defense. They hold opponents to 61 points a game and 35% shooting from the field. Mondillo talks about how they’ve tightened things up when the other team has the basketball.
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Keith Mondillo:
“When I realized we couldn’t extend and play 94-feet for forty minutes, and the coach, a brick hit him in the head and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you play in the half court a little bit,’ I think that helped. We changed the starting line-up and our front line, our 3, 4 and 5 are 6-foot, 6-foot and 6-1, and athletic, too. So, to play in the half court against teams with our two guards pressuring, it really helped us and it really shut a lot of teams down.”
On offense, the Griffins are paced by the only two seniors on the roster, guards Brittany Neill and Bryn Cotteta. Neill leads the team at 11.7 points per game, while Cotteta is second at 10.4 a game and she also has a team high 121 assists.
Mount St. Mary College won the Skyline Conference title. The Knights are 24-3 and they also play stifling defense. Opponents, on average, score just 49.8 points a game against them while shooting just 34%.
The winner of this game will face the winner of Lebanon Valley and Vassar in the second round on Saturday night.