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Duquette helps Plattsburgh reach Division III women's Frozen Four

by Amy Moritz

Officially it's called the NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Championships which of course screams fun and personality.

For our purposes, it's the D3 Women's Frozen Four, and the national semifinals begin today at host Plattsburgh.

Western New York will be represented by Julia Duquette. The North Tonawanda native and Mount St. Mary graduate (she played girls varsity hockey, so indeed she is officially a #preptalkalum) was named to the ECAC West All-Rookie team. The freshman defenseman played in 23 games for the Cardinals with one goal and eight assists.

Duquette's blueline work helped Plattsburgh build its 26-1-1 record on defense. The Cardinals have given up just 17 goals all year. That's a 0.61 goals against per game for those scoring at home.

Plattsburgh, making its third-straight NCAA appearance, will play St. Thomas (Minn.) at 3:30 today in the national semifinal. Norwich and Wisconsin-RIver Falls plays in the second semifinal at 7 p.m.

The national championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m., Saturday in Plattsburgh.

NCAA basketball Saturday matchups and times

NCAA basketball schedule for Saturday at First Niagara Center:

  • Dayton #11 vs. Syracuse #3, 7:10 p.m.
  • UConn #7 vs. Villanova #2, 9:40 p.m.

Television:  TBS

Final analysis: Villanova 73, Milwaukee 53

by Amy Moritz

Final: Villanova 73, Milwaukee 53

How the game was won: The Wildcats used a 9-0 run at the end of the first half to take a 27-23 lead. They had five players in double figures, led by junior guard Darrun Hilliard who had 16. The balanced scoring helped Villanova as did its play in the post. The Wildcats dominated the points in the paint (46-20) and blocked 10 shots. Villanova also shot high percentage shots in the second half, hitting 18 of 29 (62.1 percent).

Turning point: Hilliard scored seven straight points for Villanova turning a four-point deficit into a 23-23 tie late in the second half. The Wildcats never trailed after that.

Stat of the game: Villanova used its quickness to run on Milwaukee and had 19 fastbreak points. The Panthers had only two.

Stat of the game, Part 2: Milwaukee hit 5 of 14 from three-point range in the first half while Villanova was 0-for-12.

Player of the game: Hilliard who had 16 to lead the Villanova. His abilty to find lanes late in the first half sparked the Wildcats and opened up other offensive opportunities.

Player of the game in a losing cause: Austin Arians had 17 points for Milwaukee and went 4-for-10 from the three-point line.

He said it: "That was not, as everyone here knows, a 20-point game. Milwaukee is a really tough team and hard to play against. Their defense was outstanding and I thought our patience and our defense got us through the first half until we could hit some shots and get some stops and get out in transition in the second half." Villanova coach Jay Wright.

Up next: It's a rematch of old Big East rivals as Villanova meets Connecticut in Saturday's third round.

Villanova 73, Milwaukee 53

by Amy Moritz

Villanova picked up its first tournament win in its last three tries with a 73-53 win over Milwaukee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at First Niagara Center. The game started Thursday night and ended after midnight Friday.

Milwaukee led by as many as five in the first half, but Villnova closed the stanza on a 9-0 run to take a 27-23 halftime lead.

The Wildcats worked on their lead, extending it to double-digits on a layup from JayVaughn Pinkston with 10:33 left in the game.

The Panthers shot well from outside in the first half, going 5-for-14 from three-point range, but Villanova dominated the paint and transition. The Wildcats scored 44 points in the paint and 19 on the fast break.

Darrun Hilliard led Villanova with 16 points as five players scored in double figures.

Austin Arians led all scorers with 17 for Milwaukee.

Villanova advances to play Connecticut in Saturday's third-round matchup at First Niagara Center. Game time is still to be announced.

Villanova vs. Milwaukee: First-half analysis

by Amy Moritz

Villanova takes a 27-23 lead over Milwaukee into halftime of the final game of the day at First Niagara Center.

The Wildcats used a 9-0 run to regain the lead after Milwaukee had a solid first-half from three-point range. The Panthers led by as many as five, going up 21-16 after back-to-back three-pointers from Austin Arians. 

Milwaukee shot 5 of 14 from three-point range while Villanova was 0-for-12.

Arians leads the Panthers with nine points while J.J. Panoske has four rebounds  and five points.

Darrun Hilliard has 11 points for Villanova, going 4 of 8 from the field and hitting three free throws. James Bell has six points and seven rebounds.

The Wildcats are dominating the low post, scoring 20 points in the paint with eight second-chance points.




UConn 89, Saint Joseph's 81 (OT): How the game was won

By John Vogl

How Connecticut won: The Huskies stayed closed to the front-running Hawks with impressive three-point shooting. They shot 45.8 percent from beyond the arc and finished the game with 11 threes. Once they got to overtime, the hot hand transferred to their free throws. UConn went 15 for 16 from the line to pull away from the No. 10 seed.

Turning point: Shabazz Napier outscored the Hawks, 7-1, during a late overtime spurt to turn a slim 75-73 lead into an 82-74 advantage with 1:01 remaining. Saint Joseph's didn't get within five the rest of the way.

Player of the game: Napier lived up to the hype that accompanies the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He paced the seventh-seeded Huskies with 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Stat of the game: As we mentioned, UConn went 15 of 16 from the free-throw line in overtime. Saint Joseph's went just 3 of 6.

He said it: "We're all here for one common goal. If someone told you different, it's a lie. They play with so much competitiveness and passion that we had to do the same on our end." -- Napier.

Up next: Saturday vs. winner of No. 2 Villanova and No. 15 Milwaukee

With soccer in his past, Brimah gets a kick out of helping UConn advance

By John Vogl

It wasn't long ago that Amida Brimah was kicking a soccerball around in his native Ghana. The NCAA Tournament wasn't even a dot on his radar.

The Connecticut Huskies are sure glad he showed up on theirs.

The 7-foot freshman center, who has been playing basketball for only four years, is a big reason why UConn survived a scare from Saint Joseph's and escaped with a 89-81 victory tonight in First Niagara Center. With his team down three points in the final minute, Brimah secured an offensive rebound, was fouled on his successful layup and drained the free throw to make it 70-all with 39 seconds remaining.

Brimah, who shot 57.1 percent from the free-throw line this season, made two more in overtime as the seven-seeded Huskies prevailed.

"Coach was on me the whole game about rebounding, rebounding, I had to get a rebound," Brimah said. "When I got it, I heard someone call my name, but I realized I was closer to the basket, so I just shot a hook shot."

That was only the start of the play. If he'd missed the free throw, the effort might have been for naught. He relied on lessons learned with assistant coach Glen Miller.

"I got nervous a little bit, but I said, ‘I got this,'" Brimah said. "I just prayed on the free-throw line. I said, ‘God, help me make this,’ and I just shot it and made it. I’ve been working with coach Miller on my free throws, so that also got me better."

Ghana native Nana Baafi discovered Brimah during a recruiting trip to his home country and brought him to his home in Florida.

"I never thought I was going to be in this position right now," Brimah said. "I was going to school one day and he saw me and was like I’m wasting my talent in Ghana, and he brought me here. I just wanted to come and see.

"It was the best decision I ever made to come into UConn. It’s going to be interesting. People don’t expect a lot from us, but we came here to win the championship. We’re going to prove them wrong."

Napier does it all as UConn survives with 89-81 overtime win against Saint Joseph's

By John Vogl

Shabazz Napier definitely lived up to the hype.

Napier, the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, refused to let Connecticut falter in its return to the NCAA Tournament. The senior guard finished with 24 points, including nine in overtime, as the Huskies downed pesky Saint Joseph’s, 89-81, tonight in First Niagara Center.

Napier led the seventh-seeded Huskies across the board, adding eight rebounds and six assists to his point total. Napier averaged 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists this season.

The 10th-seeded Hawks gave the Huskies all they could handle in a game that featured 13 lead changes.

Saint Joseph’s built a 10-point lead with 3:16 left in the first half, but UConn steadily chipped away at its deficit. The Huskies finished the opening half on an 8-3 run to make it 40-35, and they continued after leaving locker room by scoring the first two baskets to make it 40-39.

The teams exchanged 6-0 runs, and UConn stayed within four before finally catching the Hawks. Napier was fouled on a successful drive, and he made the free throw to give UConn a 55-53 lead with 9:14 remaining.

It was the Huskies’ first lead since a 16-15 advantage with 8:23 gone in the game.

The Hawks, who use just seven players, had enough wind to rally. They regained the lead and built a five-point advantage, 64-59, with 5:11 to play.

Another UConn three-pointer, this time by DeAndre Daniels, put the Huskies ahead, 67-66, with 2:09 to play. After the Hawks regained the lead, a traditional three-point plaby Amida Brimah made it 70-70 with just 39 seconds remaining.

Saint Joseph’s Langston Galloway, eating up time with three seconds differential between the game and shot clock, tried to set up his team for the late lead but botched his dribble and missed wildly on a desperation drive.

UConn inbounded the ball with 2.7 seconds left with a well-designed play that gave Napier an open running jumper, but he missed to send the teams to overtime. The Huskies took care of the game at the free-throw line to earn the right to play Saturday against the winner of tonight’s late East Region game between No. 2 Villanova and No. 15 Milwaukee.

Live blog: 2-Villanova vs. 15-Milwaukee

UConn vs. Saint Joseph's: First-half analysis

By John Vogl

Folks who walked in from the cold for Buffalo’s evening session of the NCAA Tournament got warmed up in a hurry.

Saint Joseph’s and Connecticut came out on fire in their East Region matchup. Saint Joseph's ran to the dressing room for halftime with a 40-35 advantage.

The 10th-seeded Hawks built a 30-23 lead with impressive net-finding ability. They shot 12 of 18 (66.7 percent) from the field, including a handful of dunks by senior forward Ronald Roberts Jr. The Hawks finished the first half at 56 percent.

UConn responded by being deadly from beyond the arc. The Huskies hit four of their first seven three-pointers to keep the game close. UConn went to halftime 6 of 11 (54.5 percent) from long distance.

The previous game in First Niagara Center was a rout by Syracuse, which led from the opening basket to the buzzer, but the Hawks and Huskies proved to be much more competitive early. The teams had eight lead changes in the opening 8:23 before Saint Joseph’s went on a 12-4 run to take a 27-20 lead.

The Hawks had a 10-point advantage (37-27) with 3:16 to go, but UConn finished the half with an 8-3 run.

Connecticut senior forward Niels Giffey, the Huskie’s fourth-leading scorer and rebounder, picked up three fouls in the first half.

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare |

Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic began his journalism career in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and has worked for The Buffalo News since 2001. A proud father of four children, he enjoys reading in his spare time.

@RodneyMcKissic |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |