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CoBL-area D-III Power Rankings: Nov. 28, 2023 (WBB)

11/28/2023, 10:45am EST
By Jeff Griffith

By Jeff Griffith (@hooplove215)

The November slate has featured plenty of challenging matchups for the area’s Division III women’s basketball programs, and while few have emerged unscathed, a slew of local D-III schools have gotten off to strong starts with impressive early wins. 

Through a few weeks of play, here’s CoBL’s latest Division III women’s power rankings: 

Previous Rankings: Preseason (Nov. 7)

Elizabethtown's Allyia Kennedy and her team have the No. 1 spot in the rankings. (Photo: Emma Mesko/Elizabethtown Athletics)

1. Elizabethtown Blue Jays (LR: 2)

Record: 4-1

Last Two Weeks: vs. Dickinson (W, 64-56), vs. Misericordia (W, 77-47), vs. East Texas Baptist (W, 58-55), at Christopher Newport (L, 81-68), vs. Lebanon Valley (W, 70-42)

It’s a toss-up between the top two teams in this week’s ranking — both of the preseason’s top two hold one loss on their slate — but Elizabethtown gets the edge, largely on the basis of said loss being to defending national runner-up and current national No. 3 Christopher Newport, on the road. Otherwise, it’s been business as usual for the always-competitive Blue Jays, who will enter conference play against an established Catholic squad Wednesday. Junior guard Summer McNulty has picked up where she left off from last season, averaging 15.0 points, 2.2 boards and 3.2 assists through five games while shooting 40 percent from the field. Senior forward Jessica King also has a near double-double average with 9.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg. 

Next Up: vs. Catholic (Nov. 29), at Lycoming (Dec. 2), vs. Susquehanna (Dec. 9)

2. DeSales Bulldogs (LR: 1)

Record: 3-1

Last Two Weeks: at Muhlenberg (L, 44-41), vs. Saint Elizabeth (W, 94-53), at Susquehanna (W, 58-41), at Moravian (W, 72-54)

The preseason No. 1, which lost just six total games in the last two seasons, took a surprise early loss to open the season, falling by three on the road against an upstart Muhlenberg team. The Bulldogs took their anger out on their next three opponents, though, ripping through the rest of their pre-Thanksgiving slate by an average of 25 points. DeSales certainly has a balanced attack, having been led by a different scorer in each of its four games. Three Bulldogs have averaged double-digit points through the season’s first four contests, including senior forward Mikaela Reese, who dropped 26 in a win over Moravian and has racked up 15.0 ppg and 7.3 rpg. 

Next Up: at Marywood (Nov. 27), at Centenary (Nov. 29), vs. Immaculata (Dec. 2), at Messiah (Dec. 6)

3. Messiah Falcons (LR: 3)

Record: 3-1

Last Two Weeks: vs. Delaware Valley (W, 70-47), vs. The College of New Jersey (W, 65-46), at Dickinson (L, 61-45), vs. Penn State Altoona (W, 73-50)

It’s hard to rule out the Falcons, who went a combined 49-7 in the last two seasons. An early 16-point loss at Dickinson wasn’t how Messiah wanted to spend its first week, but there’s no reason yet to believe the Falcons are anything less than their normal selves — especially because their three wins have come by an average of about 22 points. The true early-season barometer for Messiah — which has been led so far by senior forward Morgan Adams 18.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg, as well as another 15.3 ppg from senior guard Reese Harden — will come at home against DeSales next week. 

Next Up: at Misericordia (Nov. 30), vs. Salisbury (Dec. 1), vs. DeSales (Dec. 6), at Mary Washington (Dec. 9)

4. Alvernia Wolves (LR: 5)

Record: 4-1 

Last Two Weeks: vs. Catholic (L, 57-54), vs. Rutgers-Newark (W, 81-49), vs. William Paterson (W, 68-67), vs. Stockton (W, 60-56)

Alvernia, fresh off of a 20-win season a year ago, kicked off the 2023-24 slate with a blowout win over Penn State Brandywine, followed by a tough three-point loss to a formidable Catholic team that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago and currently sits at 5-0. The Wolves have held serve since, including a pair of mid-November wins by a combined five points that included Kayla Williams’ 26-point, 11-rebound outburst against William Paterson. Williams, a senior forward, has been the key so far for Alvernia, averaging team highs in both points (17.4) and rebounds (9.6) while shooting .470/.250/.760 splits. Graduate guard Tamia Wessels has also contributed 12.0 ppg and 7.4 rpg to the Wolves’ cause in the early going.

Next Up: vs. Rutgers-Camden (Nov. 27), vs. Immaculata (Dec. 12)

5. Haverford Fords (LR: 9)

Record: 3-0 (1-0 Centennial)

Last Two Weeks: at Rosemont (W, 80-22), vs. Immaculata (W, 62-48), vs. Bryn Mawr (W, 57-37)

The Fords, who opened the season with moderately high expectations after winning 18 games and 16 games in the last two years respectively, have had a relatively uneventful November, but make their way up the list due to an unblemished mark. Haverford has played just three games, but each has been a blowout. Senior guard Ally Landau (16.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.3 apg) and the Fords will be tested in the coming weeks, with defending national runner-up Christopher Newport looming on the schedule, among other early conference tests.

Next Up: at Ursinus (Nov. 28), vs. McDaniel (Nov. 30), vs. Christopher Newport (Dec. 2), at Muhlenberg (Dec. 6), vs. Washington College (Dec. 9)

Arcadia and graduate forward Katie Rodriguez are out to a 4-0 start. (Photo: Courtesy Arcadia Athletics)

6. Arcadia Knights (LR: 10)

Record: 4-0

Last Two Weeks: at Rutgers-Camden (W, 79-43), vs. Gwynedd Mercy (W, 82-56), vs. Juniata (W, 68-67), vs. John Jay (W, 76-55)

Arcadia had the exact start it had to have hoped for entering this season, after a surprising and red-hot finish the 2022-23 campaign that saw the Knights heat up late and make a run to an unexpected NCAA Tournament bid. The Knights’ 4-0 start has included an overtime win over Juniata and a blowout win over a 4-2 Gwynedd Mercy team, and has been sparked by the efforts of sophomore guard Hanna Rhoades, who is shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range while averaging 19.8 points, and sophomore forward Delaney Bell, who is averaging well over a double-double of 16.0 ppg and 11.3 rpg.  

Next Up: at Immaculata (Nov. 29), at Widener (Dec. 2), at Penn State Harrisburg (Dec. 4), vs. Penn State Abington (Dec. 9)

7. Dickinson Red Devils (LR: 6)

Record: 2-1 (1-0 Centennial)

Last Two Weeks: at Elizabethtown (L, 64-56), vs. Messiah (W, 61-45), vs. McDaniel (W, 51-29)

Dickinson had just about as difficult a starting schedule as it possibly could, facing a pair of 2023 NCAA Tournament teams — who also landed in the top three of CoBL’s preseason list — right out of the gate. In those contests, the Red Devils largely impressed, hanging with a and taking down nationally-ranked Messiah squad by 16. Last year’s leading scorer, junior forward Clair Marion, has gotten off to another strong start with a team-high 18.0 ppg while shooting a red-hot 56.3 percent from beyond the arc; Marion also poured in 26 points in a win over McDaniel It’s hard to fully gauge a three-game sample size, and several upcoming conference road games will paint a fuller picture, but Dickinson’s 2-1 record given its run of early opponents is certainly impressive.   

Next Up: at Muhlenberg (Nov. 30), vs. Swarthmore (Dec. 2), at Gettysburg (Dec. 6), at Johns Hopkins (Dec. 9)

8. Gettysburg Bullets (LR: 4)

Record: 2-2 (0-1 Centennial)

Last Two Weeks: vs. Baldwin Wallace (L, 58-51), vs. Allegheny (W, 86-66), vs. Eastern (W, 67-34), at Johns Hopkins (L, 66-63)

Gettysburg’s .500 record out of the gate certainly hits the eye funny, but for a Bullets team that had a wealth of preseason optimism, it’s hard to press the panic button yet, especially when their pair of losses — by just a combined 10 points — has come against 2023 NCAA Tournament teams in Baldwin Wallace and Johns Hopkins. Otherwise, Gettysburg has been as advertised, dispatching Allegheny and Eastern with ease. Much like last year, the story so far has been defending Centennial Conference Player of the Year Mackenzie Szlosek, a junior guard averaging 13.8 points and 7.0 boards, and sophomore guard Alayna Arnolie, who leads the way with 14.5 ppg while adding 4.0 rpg.

Next Up: vs. Franklin & Marshall (Nov. 28), vs. Ursinus (Nov. 30), at Washington College (Dec. 2), vs. Dickinson (Dec. 6)

9. Muhlenberg Mules (LR: NR)

Record: 5-1 (0-1 Centennial)

Last Two Weeks: vs. Moravian (W, 45-33), vs. Hartwick (W, 64-55), vs. DeSales (W, 44-41), vs. Eastern Connecticut State (W, 57-48), at Westfield State (W, 71-44), at Swarthmore (L, 55-53)

A relatively surprising breakout after a 24-27 mark over the last two years, Muhlenberg has impressed through its first six games, losing just one by a two-point spread. The Mules were riding especially high through a 5-0 start that featured an eye-catching non-conference win over DeSales — a game in which Muhlenberg held the Bulldogs to just 24.2 percent shooting from the field — but the unbeaten streak was spoiled in the Mules’ conference opener against Swarthmore. Muhlenberg has ridden its defense so far, averaging just 55.7 points scored as opposed to just 45.6 allowed, and has been led by junior guard Ava Connolly (10.7 ppg) and junior forward Emily Unger (10.3 ppg), with junior forward Jenna Stockfeder adding 10.0 rpg. 

Next Up: at Bryn Mawr (Nov. 28), vs. Dickinson (Nov. 30), at Johns Hopkins (Dec. 2), vs. Haverford (Dec. 6), at Ursinus (Dec. 9)

10. Widener Pride (LR: NR)

Record: 6-0 

Last Two Weeks: vs. Penn State Abington (W, 90-61), Penn State Berks (W, 79-37), vs. Swarthmore (W, 57-48), vs. St. Joseph’s Brooklyn (W, 80-56), vs. Farmingdale State (W, 69-51), vs. Neumann (W, 71-63)

A few teams have gotten off to surprise unbeaten starts, but it’s especially hard to ignore Widener’s 6-0 mark through the majority of November. The Pride hasn’t necessarily played a headliner or area powerhouse, but has made quick work of most of its early schedule, with just two of its six wins coming by fewer than 10 points. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on Widener — which has especially benefited from the contributions of sophomore forward Mia Robbins (16.3 ppg,  10.7 rpg) and graduate guard Jordan D’Ambrosio (13.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.2 apg) — as the Pride’s first true road games of the season await around the corner before entering MAC Commonwealth play. 

Next Up: at King’s (Nov. 29), vs. Arcadia (Dec. 2), at Immaculata (Dec. 9)

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