One week after the University of New England won the Commonwealth Coast Conference regular-season title by beating second-place Roger Williams, there’s a rematch at 2 p.m. on Saturday. This time the stakes are the conference tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The teams go back to the Alfond Forum on the UNE campus to play in front of many of the same fans. Nor’easters Coach Anthony Ewing hopes for the same outcome, knowing the game itself will be different.
“We’’ll take a fresh approach. Coach (Kelly) Thompson will make adjustments based on our last game and I’ll make adjustments,” said Ewing. “I told all our players: ‘Be ready to be called upon. Every one of you.’ ”
The game is one of several involving southern Maine small college basketball teams in conference playoffs. The St. Joseph’s women are home against Norwich for the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament title and the men travel to New Haven, Conn., to play Albertus Magnus for the championship. Both games are at 1 p.m.
The University of Southern Maine women will be at Rhode Island College in the Little East final at 4 p.m. Saturday.
UNE (25-2, 16-1) has won 13 straight since losing to Roger Williams, 80-50, in Bristol, R.I. The Nor’easters won last Saturday, 65-50, behind Kelly Coleman (28 points, 6 rebounds) and Meghan Gribbin (19 points, 3-of-4 shooting on 3-pointers).
UNE took advantage of Roger Williams’ loss of Kaitlyn Bovee, who left in the second half with a sprained ankle. Bovee returned to score 20 in the semifinal win over Salve Regina.
The St. Joseph’s women (22-5, 20-7) have benefited from the emergence of senior forward Abby Young. She came off the bench early in games but that changed when starter Lindsay Moore suffered a season-ending knee injury about three weeks ago.
Young, a Greely High graduate, scored 30 points against Bates on Jan. 29 and is averaging 14.9. She has taken pressure off Morgan Cahill, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Norwich (15-12, 4-7) was the tournament’s No. 8 seed and then upset season champ Emmanuel in the quarterfinals. After losing their last two regular-season games, the Cadets are hot with a dynamic backcourt of Aliah Curry (22.6 ppg) and Kelsey Lotti (12.5).
“It’s a difficult matchup,” said Monks Coach Mike McDevitt. “Curry’s a real handful to guard. She’s one of the most talented players in the conference. They’re peaking at the right time. If we don’t give them 100 percent respect, that would be a mistake.”
The St. Joseph’s men celebrated Thursday night’s dramatic 66-64 semifinal win over Johnson & Wales for the 15 minutes of their postgame meeting, said Coach Rob Sanicola. The Monks (18-9, 15-3) needed three foul shots by Matt Medieros with 0.3 seconds left to win.
Moments earlier, Medieros hit a 3-pointer, giving him 101 for his career, breaking a 21-year-old school record. “We call him our two-dog, one-bone guy,” said Sanicola. “If there’s a fight for the bone, he gets it.”
After the meeting the focus turned to Albertus Magnus. St. Joseph’s lost by eight points at Albertus Magnus in mid-January and won by 19 on Feb. 1 in Standish. Medieros, Nich Jobin and Steve Simonds have paced a balanced offense.
“We’ve got to play a very good to near perfect game to keep on playing,” said Sanicola, referring to the need to win to reach the NCAA playoffs.
Albertus Magnus has the ability to score 90 points or more, which is the challenge for St. Joseph’s.
“Beating them gave us a good perspective of who we are,” said Sanicola. “It gave us confidence.”
Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: