Colleges: Smith women’s basketball, Amherst women’s hockey hosting huge games this weekend

Smith College forward Sofia Rosa (15) goes in for a layup against WPI earlier this season at Ainsworth Gymnasium in Northampton.

Smith College forward Sofia Rosa (15) goes in for a layup against WPI earlier this season at Ainsworth Gymnasium in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-29-2024 8:26 PM

Following its fourth conference crown in as many years, the Smith College women’s basketball team earned the top seed in its first-round pod and will host the opening two rounds of the NCAA Division 3 Tournament.

The Pioneers stomped Babson 90-59 in the NEWMAC title tilt last Sunday, and found out on Monday during the Division 3 selection show that they would have home-court advantage for the third consecutive season in the big dance.

Smith welcomes Maine Maritime on Friday night in the first round, with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. after the conclusion of Shenandoah and Messiah in the other first-round matchup at Ainsworth Gymnasium. Led by NEWMAC tournament MVP and NEWMAC Athlete of the Year Jessie Ruffner, Smith College eyes a win in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

Ruffner leads the conference in defensive rebounds (230), field goal percentage (60.3%) and assist/turnover ratio (2.6) while averaging career bests in points (13.1), rebounds (9.1), and assists (4.8) per game. She currently ranks sixth in Pioneers history in scoring (1,284) and is the only player in program history to reach at least 1,250 points, 650 rebounds, and 350 assists. The senior’s tournament MVP marked the third time in her career winning the award.

Alongside Ruffner is Ally Yamada (team-best 14.8 ppg, First Team All-NEWMAC), Sofia Rosa (13.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, First Team All-NEWMAC) and Hannah Martin (career-high 21 points against Babson, NEWMAC Rookie of the Year) to round out the Pioneers’ prolific offense.

Amherst College in search of another conference championship

The Mammoths are the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC women’s hockey tournament for the second straight year, and similar to last season, are looking for another conference title and automatic bid to the NCAA Division 3 tournament.

Standing in the way of Amherst and the NESCAC finals is No. 4 Hamilton, a team the Mammoths played and beat twice this season – both by scores of 2-1 in the first two games of the year back in November. Those contests were up in Clinton, N.Y., however, and this time the Continentals have to travel to Amherst on Friday evening at 4 p.m.

Forward Rylee Glennon (tied team-high 23 points, First Team All-NESCAC) and goalie Natalie Stott (.962 save percentage, First Team All-NESCAC) lead the way for Amherst, with sophomores Maeve Reynolds (tied team-high 23 points, Second Team All-NESCAC) and Emily Hohmann (conference-leading 50 blocked shots, Second Team All-NESCAC) holding firm on both ends of the ice.

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During last season’s NESCAC tournament, Amherst outscored its opponents by a combined score of 9-0 en route to a championship win. After a 2-0 win over No. 8 Bowdoin in the quarterfinal, the Mammoths have still not surrendered a goal in the conference tournament in two years.