By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – These are exciting days for the Widener and Cabrini women’s basketball teams as they both get ready for first-round games on Friday in the Division III NCAA Tournament.
Both squads will be in Washington, D.C., for their openers. Cabrini plays the host school Catholic University while Widener will match-up with FDU-Florham. If both teams win, they would meet in the second-round on Saturday.
Widener earned an at-large berth to the tournament by going 21-5 on the season. They were 16-2 in Commonwealth Conference action, but got knocked out of the conference tourney in the semi-finals. FDU-Florham brings a 24-3 mark into this first-round match-up.
Widener head coach Alisa Kintner is excited her squad is still playing basketball.
“We sat in a room together as a team and watched the selection show and I was just happy that we were the third name that was called,” Kintner tells KYW Newsradio. “It was a little nerve-wracking all day. To be announced early was exciting.”
This is the third NCAA Tournament berth for the Pride women, and Kintner says this team has already made her proud.
“I just thought they were special this year and they did a lot of good things, coming out at 21-5, beating Messiah once, beating Lebanon Valley once,” Kintner says. “I was hoping that that got us in . . and it did. It did. And we’re very excited about it.”
As for a couple of the players that have made this possible for the Pride.
“We have a preseason All-American, academic All-American from last year, Kate Dellinger, one of my captains,” Kintner says. “She is almost averaging a double-double this year and has been outstanding – a 5’7” guard that is averaging nine rebounds a game and scoring 12 points a game. She has been really leading this team, on and off the court.
“We also have our two-guard, (senior) Lil Carney,” Kintner says. “She’s been outstanding, she’s been taking games over.”
Carney averages 10.2 points a game.
The Cabrini women are red-hot as they head into the NCAA Tournament for a seventh time in program history. The Cavaliers are 24-3, they went a perfect 16-0 in Colonial States Athletic Conference action and they have won 19 straight games.
“Really exciting for all the players and for the coaches,” Cabrini head coach Kate Pearson tells KYW Newsradio. “They have worked really hard. To have the opportunity to represent our conference in the NCAA’s is a great thing for us.”
The Cavs will have their hands full with this first-round match-up as Catholic University is 26-1.
“If you look at their stats and you look at the way they play, we are actually very similar teams,” Pearson says. “They generate a lot of their offense off their defense, they like to push the ball up the court. (We both) average about 18 offensive rebounds a game, so we know that part of our job is going to be to keep them off the boards.”
While this marks the seventh tournament berth for the Cabrini women, they are still searching for the first tournament win in program history.
“That’s something that is definitely on our radar,” Pearson says. “We’ve talked each day about doing different things and making sure that one of our goals this year was to go undefeated at home and to win the conference and we were able to do both of those. I think we’re at a program-best in terms of our win streak. So if we could add another program first and program best, it’d be really rewarding.”
Widener and FDU-Florham will tip-off at 5:30pm on Friday with the Cabrini/Catholic game slated to follow at 7:30pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.