In many ways, it seems as if the Medaille women's basketball team picked up right where it left off last season.
The Lady Mavs were 20-7 last season, losing in the semifinals of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament, but still earning their first postseason with an invitation to the ECAC Tournament.
This year, they're on a nine-game winning streak, taking their 12-0 AMCC record and 17-1 overall mark into Saturday's 2 p.m. home contest with Hilbert.
To date, the only loss for Medaille was a 54-49 decision to Buffalo State.
The pleasantly surprising note for head coach Pete Lonergan is that this string of success comes while starting four sophomores and one freshman.
"When you look at us, we're just a bunch of sophomores and freshmen," Lonergan said. "It still surprises me, but I have great assistant coaches (Ron Stepien and Keith Koch) who have worked on player development and they all work together so well."
Leading the Lady Mavs is sophomore Amanda Baker, last year's co-conference player of the year, who is averaging 14.8 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. Freshman Brenlyn Campbell (Lew-Port) ranks second on the team in scoring with 11.9 points and 7.2 rebounds a game off the bench. Sophomore Marisa Clark (11.6 points and 5.2 assists) and freshman Carissa Ferrucci (Immaculata, 9.8 points) have been key contributors.
The team has all the right numbers going for it -- outscoring opponents, 72-55, and outrebounding them, 48-35.
"All five of our positions are capable of scoring so we have an awful lot of firepower," Lonergan said. "We have quickness defensively and are able to full-court press and get easy points off turnovers and high-percentage shots. . . . We're fun to watch. Sometimes it looks like a bad gym class, but they get the job done."
If Medaille holds on to first place in the AMCC, it will get a bye into the semifinals and host the conference tournament.
Meanwhile, the women's basketball team at D'Youville is enjoying one of its most successful seasons in school history. With an 8-2 record in the North Eastern Athletic Conference and 10-8 overall, the Lady Spartans are on pace for their first winning season in the modern era (post-1996).
In the latest NCAA Division III statistics, freshman center Christine Halter leads the country in field goal percentage, shooting 68.8 percent from the floor (99 of 144) and ranks 18th in rebounds per game (11.2). She leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 points a game.
MEN'S BASKETBALL: Both Canisius and Niagara take their show on the road tonight. The Golden Griffins (5-14, 4-7 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) play at Iona at 7:30 p.m. (Radio 710). The Gaels (15-4, 9-2 MAAC) have won eight of their last 10 games. The Purple Eagles (7-12, 4-7 MAAC) travel to Manhattan for a 7 p.m. game (Radio 1440). The Jaspers (13-6, 9-2) are on a two-game win streak.
MEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Mike Rozek (West Seneca West) had 14 kills and John Colosi (Grand Island) had nine kills to pace D'Youville to a three-game win over Hilbert (0-3 NECVA). The Spartans improved to 4-2 overall, 1-0 in the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association..
FOOTBALL: Lowell Robinson, a free safety for Erie Community College last fall, signed a national letter of intent with Pittsburgh. Robinson, 6-foot, 195 pounds, is from Mount Vernon.