Women get ‘improbable’ bid, will face RIT


Jesse Kucewicz, The Exponent

Tiffany Bentler and the Yellow Jackets earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament despite falling in the OAC Tournament Quarterfinals.

Following a disappointing loss to Ohio Northern University in the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Quarterfinals, the Baldwin Wallace University women’s basketball team’s great season appeared to be over prematurely.

However, the team received what head coach Cheri Harrer called an “improbable” at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

In her 29th season as head coach, this will be the 14th appearance for the Yellow Jackets in the NCAA Tournament.

The group will travel to Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA to take on Rochester Institute of Technology (20-7), who are traveling from the state of New York.

The immediate challenge for BW will be to get back into shape, both physically and mentally, after believing that their season was over. Assuming that there was no next game, the Jackets had no formal practice during the five days following their loss to Ohio Northern.

According to Harrer, Monday’s first practice for the upcoming NCAA Tournament was a lot of running and getting back into shape after almost a week off.

Mentally, there doesn’t appear to be much of a concern as an online video showed the women were ecstatic upon learning of their at-large bid that kept their season alive.

Additionally, the long layoff may be a factor for both teams as RIT hasn’t played since their Feb. 24 overtime loss against Ithaca.

Unlike the Yellow Jackets, who have excellent depth with eleven different players averaging fourteen or more minutes per game, RIT has chosen to ride their starters much more heavily this season. Each of the five starters for RIT is averaging thirty-plus minutes per game. In contrast, the Jackets don’t have a single player averaging over 28 minutes per game.

Harrer said RIT will present a unique strategic challenge to the Jackets.

“They play hard, press more than usual, and will use more zone defense than (we) typically see in our conference games,” said Harrer. “It will be different. One of the big keys will be staying poised and taking care of the basketball against the pressure.”

All season, Coach Harrer has stressed the importance of defense being “the great equalizer.”

If the Jackets are able to get stops, she believes (and has evidence to back up her belief) that it will help them get out and run in transition, translating defense into offense, which could prove even more beneficial if the Jackets are once again cold from the field, as was the case in their most recent loss against the Polar Bears.

Another key for the Yellow Jackets’ success against RIT will be a strong showing from their bench.

The Jackets are 16-3 this year when getting 24 or more points from their bench but have lost four games in a row when not hitting that threshold.

To look at it a different way, in their 19 wins, they are averaging a robust 30.2 points from their bench, but only getting 23.9 points in their losses.

BW has earned one more opportunity to pursue their 20th win of the season, this Friday, March 1, against RIT.

If successful, it’ll be the fourth time in the last six years, and the 16th time overall under Harrer that Baldwin Wallace hit the 20 win plateau.