Jeff Griffith (@hooplove215)
With a month of the Division III women’s basketball season in the books, the top of the area’s rankings looks pretty similar to its preseason iteration, but plenty of upstart local teams have made their way into the early-December Top 10.
Desales junior guard Amelia Saunders and her squad top the CoBL rankings. (Photo: Courtesy Stephanie Graffin/DeSales Athletics)
Here’s the first in-season edition of the 2022-23 CoBL-Area Division III women’s power rankings:
(Ed. Note: A reminder that CoBL's Division III coverage area includes from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, up to State College and over to the Lehigh Valley).
Others to watch
Albright (5-3, 2-0 MAC Commonwealth), Haverford (5-3, 4-1 Centennial), Gettysburg (3-3, 2-2 Centennial), Moravian (3-5, 0-1 Landmark), Penn State Harrisburg (4-4, 1-0 United East), York (3-4, 1-1 MAC Commonwealth)
10. Swarthmore (LW: NR)
Record: 4-4, 2-2 Centennial
Early Results: neutral vs. Hamilton (L, 62-57), neutral vs. Nazareth (L, 60-58), vs. Widener (W, 56-46), vs. Ursinus (W, 52-39), at Washington and Lee (W, 57-54), vs. Haverford (W, 49-38), at Muhlenberg (L, 60-57), at Dickinson (L, 59-40)
Since dropping a pair of games to start the season, by five points and two points apiece, Swarthmore has put together a solid first month of the season, winning four in a row before opening December with back-to-back conference road losses. The Garnet, which won’t play again until the turn of the calendar year, own wins over two preseason area Top 10 teams, including a Widener group that has struggled to a 2-6 start, as well as aforementioned Haverford. Swarthmore has had a very balanced scoring attack; a low-scoring offensive squad, the Garnet have seven players averaging between four and 10 points, with sophomore guard Alyssa Hayashi leading all scorers with 9.5 ppg.
Next Up: at Mary Washington (Jan. 2), vs. McDaniel (Jan. 4), at Franklin & Marshall (Jan. 7)
9. Immaculata Mighty Macs (LW: 6)
Record: 5-3, 0-0 Atlantic East
Early Results: vs. Ursinus (L, 65-55), vs. Penn State Brandywine (W, 77-39), vs. Bryn Mawr (W, 71-25), vs. Haverford (W, 58-54), vs. Alvernia (L, 49-48), at Eastern (W, 60-35), at Penn State Abington (W, 71-55), at Moravian (L, 80-47)
The Macs took a home loss to start the season, but quickly rebounded to bring a 4-2 start into a three-game road stretch. Immaculata has struggled away from home, though, including an eyebrow-raising 33-point loss at Moravian. Immaculata returned plenty of upperclassmen from its NCAA Tournament team from a year ago, but the Mighty Macs are currently led in scoring and rebounding by two sophomores, forward Abigail Lentowski (13.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and wing Reese Mullins (11.4, 6.3 rpg). Immaculata will have the opportunity to play multiple local programs that are hot early on, including, in this ranking, No. 4 Gwynedd Mercy and No. 3 Messiah.
Next Up: at Washington College (Dec. 10), neutral vs. Messiah (Dec. 17), vs. Spalding (Dec. 18)
8. Dickinson College (LW: 6)
Record: 5-2, 4-1 Centennial
Early Results: at Catholic (L, 55-47), vs. Moravian (W, 66-54), vs. Haverford (L, 54-38), at McDaniel (W, 52-46), at Franklin & Marshall (W, 56-36), at Gettysburg (W, 48-43), vs. Swarthmore (W, 59-40)
The Red Devils are one of the hottest area teams after starting 1-2. Their lone conference blemish was a 16-point loss to Haverford when they were outscored 22-5 in the fourth quarter, but Dickinson has won four straight since, including a convincing victory over Swarthmore on Saturday, which was led by 21 points from sophomore wing Clair Marion. Marion is averaging 12.7 ppg and 5.4 rpg to lead the Red Devils. Senior forward Kate Montgomery (9.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and sophomore guard Caitlin Blackman (8.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) are among the others helping her out. Dickinson is getting the job done with a defensive approach as it’s held opponents to 46.9 ppg on 31.1 percent shooting through eight contests, which rank 19th and 23rd in the country, respectively.
Next Up: at Susquehanna (Dec. 7), vs. Kean (N.J.) (Dec. 19), vs. SUNY Cortland (Dec. 20)
7. Muhlenberg (LW: NR)
Record: 4-2, 3-1 Centennial
Early Results: at Hartwick (W, 68-60), at DeSales (L, 58-49), at Johns Hopkins (L, 54-53), at Bryn Mawr (W, 80-27), vs. Ursinus (W, 64-53), vs. Swarthmore (W, 60-57)
Just 10 points currently separate Muhlenberg from an unbeaten record, and those 10 points came in road losses to 2022 NCAA Tournament teams. Add four strong victories, and Muhlenberg has itself a solid early résumé on a six-game sample size; the Mules also have an early head start on improving their conference record, having picked up three quick wins in a row against Centennial opponents, good for nearly half of the Mules’ 2021-22 conference win total of seven. Redshirt senior forward Margaux Eripret has done a little bit of everything for Muhlnberg so far, averaging 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.6 blocks, while shooting 82.4 percent from the free-throw line.
Next Up: at Moravian (Dec. 7), neutral vs. Greensboro (Dec. 18), neutral vs. The College of New Jersey (Dec. 19)
Lancaster Bible College sophomore forward Jade Eshelman ranks 14th in the country in rebounding with 12.4 rpg. (Photo: Courtesy Lancaster Bible Athletics)
6. Lancaster Bible (LW: NR)
Record: 4-1, 1-0 United East
Early Results: at Cairn (W, 97-42), vs. Bryn Athyn (W, 65-53), at York (Pa.) (L, 63-45), at Neumann (W, 53-43), vs. Penn College (W, 51-41)
It’s hard to gauge Lancaster Bible so far, with a slightly smaller sample size than most of its fellow area teams, but it’s also hard to fault a team with just one loss. That one blemish came on the road against York, which sat at No. 6 in the preseason area rankings, but has stumbled to a 3-4 start. The Chargers have taken care of the rest of their business, winning all four of their other games to date by 10 points or more, including a runaway win at Cairn to open the season. The defense has been impressive holding opponents to 50.2 points on 29.5 percent shooting (9th in country). Sophomore forward Jade Eshelman has been outstanding out of the gates, averaging a double-double with 15.4 ppg and 12.4 rpg in her second year as a starter.
Next Up: at Centenary (N.J.) (Dec. 6), vs. Rosemont (Dec. 9), at Eastern Mennoninte (Dec. 11)
5. Arcadia Knights (LW: NR)
Record: 7-2, 2-0 MAC Freedom
Early Results: vs. Neumann (W, 58-47), vs. Mount Aloysius (W, 67-52), at Goucher (W, 58-47), at Gwynedd Mercy (L, 76-47), vs. Penn State Harrisburg (W, 70-51), at Juniata (L, 56-42), at John Jay (W, 60-53), vs. FDU-Florham (W, 73-21), at Lycoming (W, 59-53)
Tied for the most wins of any area team with seven, Arcadia has set itself up for a drastic turnaround, having already matched its win total from a year ago (7-17). The Knights were winless outside of conference last season, and are already 5-2 in that category. Since falling at Juniata by 14, Arcadia has won three in a row, including a pair of close road victories. Arcadia will surely look to keep things going one game at a time, but looking further ahead, the Knights’ major barometer game looms in mid-January, in a Saturday road trip to DeSales. It’s been freshman guard Hanna Rhoades leading the way so far with 15.2 ppg, while junior guard Scarlett Glasser-Nehls has added 10.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg while connecting on a blistering 46.7 percent of three-point attempts.
Next Up: vs. Delaware Valley (Dec. 7), at King’s College (Pa.) (Dec. 10), vs. Rutgers-Camden (Dec. 14)
Senior Haley Crossley is leading Gwynedd in scoring at 16.8 ppg. (Photo: Courtesy Gwynedd Mercy Athletics)
4. Gwynedd Mercy Griffins (LW: NR)
Record: 5-1, 0-0 Atlantic East
Early Results: at King’s College (Pa.) (W, 75-50), vs. Delaware Valley (W, 80-63), vs. Scranton (L, 70-56), vs. Arcadia (W, 76-47), at Wilkes (W, 71-53), at Penn State Berks (W, 101-62)
Gwynedd Mercy middled its way to a near-.500 record a year ago, but the Griffins have stormed out of the gate in 2022-23, including an active streak of three double-digit wins. Gwynedd Mercy’s only loss on the year was by 14 against Scranton, which ranks in the Top 10 nationally; the Griffins also own a 29-point head-to-head victory over 7-2 Arcadia, which serves as the main impetus for their No. 4 area ranking. Forward Haley Crossley and guard Elise Sylvester — both seniors — have been extremely productive so far for Gwynedd Mercy, leading the way with 16.8 and 15.2 ppg apiece. Crossley also averages 7.6 rebounds, second on the team to junior forward Natalie O’Neill’s 9.8 rpg.
Next Up: vs. Salisbury (Dec. 5), at Albright (Dec. 7), at John Jay (Dec. 10)
3. Messiah Falcons (LW: 1)
Record: 5-2, 2-0 MAC Commonwealth
Early Results: neutral vs. Johns Hopkins (W, 48-47), neutral vs. University of Rochester (L, 57-44), vs. Lycoming (W, 70-42), vs. New Paltz (W, 65-58), at DeSales (L, 61-35), vs. York (W, 69-39), at Widener (W, 55-43)
The preseason area No. 1 has been quite good out of the gate, but the Falcons haven’t quite lived up to their top ranking, dropping a pair of early games, including a surprise early defeat at Rochester and a blowout road loss against a strong DeSales squad. The Falcons, otherwise, have gotten the job done; Messiah opened conference play on a strong note, topping York and Widener, each by double digits. Junior guard Reese Harden currently leads the Falcons with 11.9 ppg, while productive junior guard Chlose Milanesi has pitched 7.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 2.3 spg.
Next Up: at Gettysburg (Dec. 7), at Albright (Dec. 10),
2. Elizabethtown Blue Jays (LW: 3)
Record: 6-0, 1-0 Landmark
Early Results: at McDaniel (W, 85-43), neutral vs. Lycoming (W, 80-57), at Franklin & Marshall (W, 58-45), at Lebanon Valley (W, 66-44), vs. Salisbury (72-40), at Susquehanna (W, 70-53)
Elizabethtown is about as close a second as close seconds get. The Blue Jays, who were No. 3 at the season’s start, have ripped off six wins in a row, all by double digits. Elizabethtown’s strong start has included multiple wins of 30 points or more, including at McDaniel and at home against Salisbury. They have a Top 10 defense, holding opponents to 45.8 ppg. A pair of sophomores have done the majority of the scoring so far for Elizabehtown, as center DaniRae Renno (15.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and guard Summer McNulty (14.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg) account for just over 40 percent for the Blue Jays’ points so far. Elizabethtown ranked 25th in d3hoops.com’s November 27 poll.
Next Up: vs. Cabrini (Dec. 11), vs. Delaware Valley (Dec. 17), vs. York/Washington & Lee (Dec. 18)
1. DeSales Bulldogs (LW: 2)
Record: 7-0, 2-0 MAC Freedom
Early Results: neutral vs. Penn State Hazleton (W, 90-37), neutral vs. Penn State Schuylkill (W, 85-41), vs. Muhlenburg (W, 58-49), vs. Moravian (W, 63-52), vs. Messiah (W, 61-35), vs. King’s College (Pa.) (W, 77-35), at FDU-Florham (W, 113-32)
After a dominant first month of the season, DeSales slides up one spot into a deserving No. 1 ranking. The Bulldogs, who checked in 23rd nationally in the November 27 d3hoops.com ranking, own a resounding victory over preseason area No. 1 Messiah. With two early conference wins, they’ve improved their MAC Freedom win streak to 44 games. The Bulldogs are doing it on both ends of the floor with country 13th ranked offense (78.1 ppg) and fourth ranked defense (41.5 ppg). They’ve gotten help from all over the floor, as six players average between 6.5 and 13.0 points, while four average at least five rebounds. Leading the charge so far have been senior wing Megan Bealer (12.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and junior forward Mikaela Reese (12.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg).
Next Up: vs. Wilkes (Dec. 7), vs. Misericordia (Dec. 10), at Cabrini (Dec. 20)
Previous Rankings: Preseason (Nov. 8) | Dec. 5 |