Jefferson women's hoops are NCAA Tournament bound

Matt Leon
March 11, 2019 - 4:37 pm
Jefferson is 29-2 after winning the CACC title on Sunday.

Courtesy of CACC


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A phenomenal season for the Division II Jefferson University women's basketball team will continue this weekend in the NCAA Tournament.

The 29-2 Rams are the #3 seed in East Regional and they will open up against the #6 seed Stonehill College on Friday at noon at Bobby Morgan Arena on the campus of the University of the Sciences.

Jefferson earned an automatic bid to this year's tournament by winning the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, beating Sciences for the title on Sunday in Caldwell, 74-73, in overtime.

"From the very beginning, building on last year's record of 26-6, we were really optimistic we could do better," Jefferson head coach Tom Shirley said. "Our goal all year has been to get a banner and get a bid. This year, it kind of got reversed, because we got the bid first, we knew we were going to be at least a three-seed. (The conference title) means everything. When you walk in our gym, with the CACC banners hanging there, and now to hang a third one, it's a proud moment for not only the program but for all these individual players."

READ: Caitlyn Cunningham leads Jefferson Rams with triple-double 

This is the ninth time the Rams have made the tournament under Shirley. 

Jefferson has one of the most potent starting fives in the country. Four of the starters average at least 13 points a game with senior guard Jessica Kaminski, the CACC Player of the Year, leading the way at 16.8 points per game. Sophomore guard Caitlyn Cunningham is right behind her at 16.6 points per game. Three of the Rams' starters average at least seven rebounds a game with Kaminski leading the way at 8.2 a game. Jefferson averages 75.8 points per game while allowing just 58.2 a night.

Shirley talks about what his team needs to do to have success in the tournament.

"The biggest thing is continue to transition," he said. "I think we get the ball out quickly and we get it up the floor pretty quickly and we have kids that can attack in Cait and Jess and we just try and let them go. Whether it be a defensive rebound or a basket, we've got to push and probably get about 35% of our offense off that. The other thing is, we've done a really good job defensively. We play multiple defenses, our kids know the schemes and I think when it comes down to it, they're very smart. I think we have a stat where we're one of the top ten teams in the country with the least amount of fouls."

READ: Weekend of milestones for Jefferson's Tom Shirley 

Stonehill brings a 19-9 record into the tournament. The Skyhawks were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Northeast 10 Conference Tournament.

"They're going to bring a lot of experience (to the table) because this is their 25th NCAA bid," Shirley said. "However, last year's team, which went to the Elite Eight, was kind of damaged by graduation. So they're young, they're very young and probably a little inexperienced. They have a freshman (Kayla Raymond) that's very good, averaging about 16 points a game."

The winner of Jefferson/Stonehill will play the winner of Bentley/St. Anselm in the second round on Saturday.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Mattleon1060.