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Locals gets taste of March Madness

Brianna Robbins

Cassie Smythe

Cassie Smythe of Wells College and Brianna Robbins of Haverford College were National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III women’s basketball players getting their first taste of competing in the NCAA Tournament during the weekend.

Smythe of Eden and Wells fell 106 – 45 to the nation’s No. 5-ranked team and unbeaten Fairleigh Dickinson University at Florham (28 – 0) in the tournament’s opening round on March 7 in Madison, N.J. Wells ended the season 19 – 9.

Haverford and Robbins of Hamburg were able to move past the first round with a 53 – 48 win against Rhode Island College on March 7, but fell the next day 54 – 43, to the bracket’s host Ithaca.

Dring its fourth season of existence as a program, Wells rallied to post a 67 – 60 victory against Lancaster Bible College in the North Eastern Athletic Conference championship game, earning a first conference title in the first finals appearance in program history. Wells also earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time.

Lancaster Bible had not lost a league game during the regular season of play and was undefeated in its last 26 NEAC contests. Wells collected its third-ever playoff victory, all coming this season. Earlier in the season, Lancaster Bible defeated the Express 67 – 58. Last season, Lancaster Bible knocked the Express out of the playoffs with a 69 – 50 win.

Wells got a layup from Smythe, a junior, to give Wells a 6-point lead with 1:58 remaining in regulation time. A key reserve off the bench, Smythe scored 4 points. She has averaged 4.8 points and leads the team with a 27.1 average from three-point range in 27 games this year. Wells outscored Lancaster Bible 36 – 24 in the second half. In the semifinals, Wells held on for a 54 – 51 victory against the Bison of Gallaudet University. Smythe led all Wells players, with three assists.

Robbins, who graduated from Nardin Academy, was a reserve as a junior on the basketball team. Haverford has been part of three consecutive winning seasons at the school, after there was only one, prior to this junior class’s arriving for the program. Haverford won the Centennial Conference for the first time and also qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time. The team finished its season 24 – 4.

Robbins is also a starter on Haverford’s women’s lacrosse team, and has been a leader on the team in ground balls and caused turnovers for the last two years.

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