Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College women's basketball team, which finished the 2018-19 regular season with its best record since 1999-00 at 19-5 overall and in fourth place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with a 6-4 league mark, has qualified for the NESCAC Championship Tournament for the 13th time and the second year in a row. The Bantams are the No. 4 seed and will host a NESCAC First Round game for the first time since 2014 when the Bantams welcome the No. 5-seeded Middlebury Panthers on Saturday, February 16 at 3 p.m. Top-seeded Bowdoin (24-0, 10-0) plays No. 8-seeded Connecticut College (13-10, 4-6), No. 2-seeded Amherst (22-2, 8-1) hosts No. 7-seeded Wesleyan (14-10, 4-6), and No. 3-seeded Tufts (22-2, 8-2) hosts No. 6-seeded Williams (11-13, 5-5) in the other first round games on Saturday. The highest remaining seed after the quarterfinal round will host the semifinal and final rounds on February 23 and 24 with the winner of the league tournament earning the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament in March.
Trinity, coached by Emily Garner (3rd Season), started the year with nine wins in a row and had a pair of four-game winning streaks in 2019, while four of the five Bantam losses have come against teams currently ranked among the nation's top 25. The Panthers are in the tournament for the fifth year in a row and look to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2013. Trinity posted a 59-55 victory over Middlebury in Hartford on January 27 and the quarterfinal game marks the first meeting between the two teams in the NESCAC postseason. A Bantam victory would mark Trinity's first trip to the semifinals since 2014. In the regular season meeting between the teams, senior co-captain forward Erin Cunningham (Wilton, Conn.) had 16 points, while senior center Courtney Erickson (Everett, Mass.) added 10 points, and junior guard Peace Kabari (Manchester, N.H.) notched six points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and five blocked shots, as the Bantams led for the majority of the contest.
Trinity ranks 12th nationally in three-point shooting percentage at .372, and Cunningham is third in all of NCAA Division III with a .475 three-point, field-goal percentage. The Bantams are also 13th in the country with a +11.0 rebounding margin, as Cunningham (4.5), Erickson (6.3, 10th in NESCAC), and Kabari (7.0, 7th in NESCAC) are combining for nearly 18 boards per game. Kabari fills up the stat sheet every game, leading the conference in steals with 2.5 per game and ranking second in assists with 4.0 per game and seventh in blocks with 1.3 per contest. Erickson, who became the 12th player in Trinity history to collect 500 career rebounds earlier this season, leads Trinity's balanced offense with 12.2 ppg, while Kabari averaged 10.5 ppg, and Cunningham scores 9.8 ppg. Senior guard Becky Reifler averages 8.0 ppg and is fifth in the league in three-point shooting with a .425 percentage. Sophomore point guard Allie Morin (Westwood, Mass.) rounds out the starting lineup and the Bantams feature a deep and productive bench with eight reserves averaging eight minutes or more per contest
Middlebury, coached by K.J. Krasco, ended the regular season with an 18-6 overall record and tied with Williams for fifth place in the NESCAC with a 5-5 mark in the league. The Panthers are the second-best rebounding team in the league with 44.6 rpg including more than seven apiece per contest for both senior center Catherine Harrison and Maya Davis. Davis also tops the Panthers in scoring with 12.2 ppg, followed by senior guard Colleen Caveney (Lowell, Mass.) with 11.3 ppg. Middlebury senior guard Alex Huffman scored 19 points in the regular-season matchup against Trinity almost three weeks ago.