The University of Scranton women's basketball team will make its 26th appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament after receiving an at-large bid when the field of 64 teams was announced on Monday afternoon.
The Lady Royals (19-8) will face 15th-ranked Williams College (22-5) in a first-round game on Friday, March 1, at Rochester University in Rochester, N.Y. Game time has not been set; however, Scranton and Williams will play the early game in the doubleheader which also features Rochester and Emmanuel (Mass.) in a first-round game. The winners meet in a second-round game on Saturday, March 2, at Rochester.
Scranton and head coach Mike Strong picked up the at-large bid after advancing to the championship of the Landmark Conference playoffs before falling to top-seeded and 10th-ranked Catholic, 72-52, in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Feb. 23. The Lady Royals had won a thrilling semifinal at Moravian, 72-71, on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in a game that likely put them in position to earn an at-large bid.
The Lady Royals are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2010, when they made the last of eight straight NCAA appearances. Scranton has reached the Final Four eight times, including a national title in 1985.
Scranton is led by senior forward Erin Boggan (Danbury, Conn./Danbury) and sophomore forward Meredith Mesaris (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax). Boggan averages 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds, and hit the game-winner with five seconds left in the semifinal victory over Moravian. She is averaging 13.4 points and 9.0 rebounds over the past 10 games. Mesaris was second in the Landmark Conference with 16.8 points per game while pulling down 5.0 rebounds.
Williams, which is located in Williamstown, Mass., also received an at-large bid after falling to sixth-ranked Amherst, 53-38, in the championship game of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. The Ephs are led by senior forward Claire Baecher (Brunswick, Maine/Brunswick), who averaged 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds while starting all 27 games.
Friday's first-round game will be broadcast live with play-by-play man Dean Corwin on the call on WUSR 99.5 FM and academic.scranton.edu/organization/wusr/. Live stats and live video links will be available later in the week.
This will be the second meeting between Scranton and Williams. The Ephs won the only other meeting, 62-58, on Nov. 20, 2004.
In the other first-round game at Rochester, the host Yellow Jackets (19-6) received an at-large bid after falling to Emory, 65-57, in the University Athletic Association championship. Emmanuel (23-5) earned an automatic bid by defeating Suffolk, 68-45, in the championship game of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
Scranton defeated both Rochester and Emmanuel during the regular season.
Game times and ticket information for the NCAA Tournament will be announced on Tuesday. To see the entire bracket for the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament, visit http://athletics.scranton.edu/sports/wbkb/ncaa_women-s_bracket.pdf. For more information on the Tournament, visit http://www.ncaa.com/championships/basketball-women/d3.