– While many local college basketball teams have
already packed up and headed home for the holiday break, the Wells
College men’s and women’s basketball teams still have
work to do. Both teams will board airplanes Thursday morning and
head in different directions across the country to take on
formidable NCAA Division III opponents.
The Wells women will play two contests in sunny St. Petersburg, Fla. at the NCAA Division III St. Pete Classic while the men will travel to the Pacific Northwest, facing-off against two teams from the West Region. All four of Wells’ opponents made their respective conference playoffs last year and three of the teams qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament.
Wells remains the only North Eastern Athletic Conference institution to win both men’s and women’s league championships and is one of only two conference schools boarding airplanes this winter, heading out in search of victories against the top teams from other regions.
The women’s team will face-off against the Wis.-Lutheran Warriors and the Carthage Lady Reds in back-to-back games. The Express will battle the Warriors at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 19 on the campus of Eckerd College before playing the Lady Reds at 8 p.m. the following day at the same venue. The Express join both the Lady Reds and Warriors as having appeared in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament last season.
Carthage and Wis.-Lutheran, perennial NCAA Division III women’s basketball powers, combined to post a 50-8 overall record in 2013-14 and the Express will look to bring a top-level performance with them to the Sunshine State for the back-to-back contests.
"Competing against a high level of competition at this stage in the season will help prepare our team for our remaining conference schedule,” remarked Head Coach Mike O’Brien, whose women’s basketball team has racked up 21 victories across the previous 33 contests dating back to the 2013-14 season. “Wisconsin Lutheran and Carthage are two excellent programs and will provide our program with two of its toughest tests of the season."
The men’s basketball program will head to Washington State to play at Whitman in Walla Walla, Wash. on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7:00 p.m. PST before facing-off against Whitworth in Spokane, Wash. the very next day at noontime PST. Whitman posted a 16-10 overall record last season while Whitworth jumped out to an impressive 23-6 overall record, winning 13 of their last 15 games.
“It is exciting to have both of our basketball teams participate in these types of winter trips,” said Director of Athletics Michael Lindberg. “Playing against quality opponents from other regions raises the profile of our College at the national level and gives our student-athletes an unforgettable experience.”