Women’s basketball: Smith College earns No. 1 overall seed as NCAA Division 3 tourney field unveiled

  • The Smith College basketball team celebrates after winning the NEWMAC tournament title on Sunday against Babson in Northampton. The Pioneers earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Division 3 Women’s Basketball Tournament, as brackets were unveiled Monday. PHOTO BY MATT RISLEY

Staff Writer 
Published: 2/27/2023 5:24:01 PM
Modified: 2/27/2023 5:22:58 PM

Ask anyone from the Smith College basketball team about this year’s NCAA Division 3 Women’s Basketball Tournament, and they’ll tell you that the Pioneers have some unfinished business.

Last year, Smith reached the Sweet 16 before falling to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in a 78-76 overtime thriller on a last-second layup. It left a bitter taste, and the Pioneers came back this year ready for some revenge.

On paper, Smith (26-1) is poised for another deep postseason run. The Pioneers automatically qualified for the NCAA tourney, and found out on Monday during the Div. 3 Selection Show that they are the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.

Smith will host first and second round games at Ainsworth Gymnasium in Northampton, beginning with an opening-round tilt against SUNY-Morrisville (20-7) on Friday at 8:15 p.m. If the Pioneers get through to the second round, they’ll play the winner of Marymount (Va.) or St. John Fisher (N.Y.) on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. The Marymount-St. John Fisher first-round game will kick off Friday’s doubleheader at 5:45 p.m.

The Pioneers are currently riding a program-best 20-game winning streak, smashing the previous record of 11 consecutive wins set just last season. Smith won its third consecutive NEWMAC tournament title on Sunday, taking down Babson in the championship game in Northampton.

Also notable from Monday’s bracket reveal was which school didn’t make the tournament. Amherst College (18-7) fell just short after a disappointing finish and loss in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Mammoths fell one bucket short from advancing to the semis against Trinity College, dropping a 58-57 contest. 

Head coach G.P. Gromacki has been in charge of the women’s basketball program since the 2007-08 season, and this year will mark the first time in his tenure that he and the Mammoths won’t be dancing in the NCAA tournament. Last year’s Amherst squad made it all the way to the Final Four, where it fell to Wisconsin-Whitewater, 55-51.

Second-round winners will advance to one of four sectional sites March 10-11.  Winners of the four sectional sites will advance to the national semifinals March 18. All games, except the semifinals and final, will be played on the campuses of competing institutions. The semifinals will be conducted at Oosting Gymnasium in Hartford, Conn., hosted by Trinity College.

For only the second time in the 41-year history of NCAA women’s basketball, the NCAA Division 2 and 3 national championships will be decided at the Women’s Final Four site. Both games will be Saturday, April 1, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, with the Division 3 championship game tipping at 12 p.m., followed by the Division 2 title game at 3:30 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

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