BIDDEFORD — After winning its second consecutive Commonwealth Coast Conference title on Saturday, the next step for the University of New England women’s basketball team was to find out who they would be playing in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament. The 64-team bracket was revealed on Monday afternoon, and the Nor’easters drew New York University.

UNE will play its first-round game Friday night on the Tufts University campus in Medford, Mass., which is one of 16 host schools in the first two rounds. A win on Friday would advance UNE to the second round, where it would face the winner of the Tufts-St. Joseph’s of Maine first-round matchup.

NYU is an unknown foe for the Nor’easters, although UNE head coach Anthony Ewing coached in the same conference as NYU prior to his tenure in Biddeford.

“I used to coach in the UAA, their conference, for six years, but that was seven years ago. So they are completely different ”“ different coach, different everything,” Ewing said of NYU, which is required to send its last game film by today, and Ewing must do the same. “I’ll look that (game tape) over with a fine-tooth comb, and that will be my job the next three days, is getting real familiar with NYU.”

The NYU Violets finished with a 20-5 record playing in the University Athletic Association, and earned an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. The Violets made a big jump in head coach Lauren Hall-Gregory’s second year, after winning just 10 games a year ago. NYU was led in scoring by sophomore forward Megan Dawe (14.6 points/game) and freshman guard Kaitlyn Read (13.4 points/game).

“It’s not that different,” Ewing said of playing an unknown opponent. “Everyone we play, the first time we play them each year ”¦ you got to go in with a fresh look.

“It doesn’t make it any more difficult, but this time of year, you know you’re going to be playing good teams; you don’t make the NCAA tournament by accident. So we’ll have to be prepared to play good basketball.”

The Nor’easters are making a return trip to the NCAA tournament, and 12 of the 17 players on the roster have tournament experience.

“Our kids won’t be surprised by the atmosphere or the levity of the situation,” said Ewing. “It’ll be exciting, nonetheless.”

Knowing what it takes to win once they get onto the court on Friday ”“ the Nor’easters won their first-ever tournament game a year ago ”“ Ewing said his team won’t do anything differently than it has since last fall, when practices started.

“We just have to do what we’ve been doing; we’ve got to continue to try to get better every day, and I think that’s their mentality,” said Ewing. “You don’t stop going hard in drills, you don’t stop doing the things that got you to where (are).”

Tip-off for Friday night’s game hasn’t yet been set, but Ewing said whatever time the game does start, he expects his team to play its best game of the season.

“We played real well in that championship game, for most of the game, and we played well in the tournament for most of it. But I think that we’re capable of playing better than we have, and there’s no better time to be doing that than the NCAA tournament,” said Ewing.

— Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.



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