Three Area Mens Squads, Three Women’s Teams Earn NCAA D2 Bids

The St. Thomas Aquinas men’s and women’s teams, which both won East Coast Conference titles yesterday in Rochester, are among six area Division II squads to earn NCAA tournament bids. The women’s East regional begins Friday in Easton, Mass., and the men’s regional starts Saturday in Syracuse.

For the women, the fourth-seeded Spartans will take on at-large entry Caldwell, which earned the #5 seed in its second straight NCAA appearance. LIU Post, seeded #6, will battle CACC champion and #3 USciences.

On the men’s side, the #2 Spartans draw #7 Bloomfield out of the CACC, a perennial factor in the regionals. Bridgeport, the ECC finalist, is #3 and will play #6 Merrimack.

Justin Reyes

STAC, which won its third straight men’s ECC crown, carries a 26-6 overall record into the tournament, and is the defending East Regional champion, advancing to the Elite Eight last year. The matchup against the Bears is the second this year, with STAC winning, 83-79, in OT in Bloomfield on Nov. 29. Justin Reyes was named the ECC Player of the Year for the third straight season, with more than 2200 career points. Bloomfield’s (22-7) top star is versatile forward Nick Davidson, with 17.8 ppg. The Spartans and Bears collide Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

For the STAC women (26-4), it’s their first ECC title and boast the conference player of the year in Jenna Erickson. The Spartans defeated the Cougars, 86-54, in Sparkill on Nov. 29 in a non-conference matchup earlier this season. Caldwell (24-6) is led by two-time First Team All-CACC performer Kristen Drogsler.

Bridgeport’s men (23-5) are led by Sam Joseph at 14.1 ppg. The Purple Knights have two wins over STAC this season, and take on Merrimack on Saturday at noon. The LIU Post women (26-4) dealt STAC two off its four losses.

The women’s tournament continues Saturday with the regional semis. The final is set for Monday. The men’s semifinals are Sunday with the final on Tuesday.

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