February 22, 2014

Playoff Fever: All Three Winter Sports Teams Advance to Conference Tournaments

For the first time in a decade all three Suffolk University winter sports teams will each advance to their respective conference tournaments after Saturday's conclusions to the 2013-14 regular seasons. Women's Basketball were victorious over Norwich University, 78-61 at the Regan Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon while Hockey topped Wentworth 4-0 at Steriti Memorial Rink in Boston's North End. The Men's Basketball team suffered the Rams' lone setback of the day falling 75-70 against Norwich as all three teams now move forward with NCAA Championship Tournament berths at stake.

Women's Basketball

Suffolk will enter the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament winning their final three home games in a four-day span as they finish with a 16-9 regular season record. The Rams will open the eight team single elimination tournament as the number four seed and will host fifth seed Johnson & Wales University on Tuesday evening at 7:00pm at Suffolk's Regan Gymnasium. Senior Jennifer Ruys (Wallingford, Conn.) continues to move up the all-time scoring list at Suffolk. Ruys became just the third player in program history to reach the 1,400 career point total earlier this season and  enters the playoffs just 44 points shy of Katie Norton's record of 1,516 career points scored. Ruys has led Suffolk on the year averaging 16.7 points per game, the league's fifth highest total. Alongside Ruys has been junior Iliana Quadri (Sudbury, Mass.) who has scored at an 11.8 points per game average. Quadri has been hot as of late scoring 49 points over the Rams' past three games and will be looked upon to give Suffolk the long-range threat they will need. Both Quadri and freshman Georgia Bourikas (Hull, Mass.) have given Suffolk the second most efficient three-point shooting team in the league as the Rams have connected from beyond the arc at a 31.9-percent clip. Junior Shelby Santini (Winchester, Mass.) has given Suffolk a two-way threat as she's averaged 11 points a game while forcing opponents to nearly two turnovers per contest.

It took the Rams two overtime periods to defeat Johnson & Wales in their only meeting this season, a 61-57 Suffolk triumph back on February 8. That day Suffolk's big three of Ruys, Quadri and Santini combined for 44 of their team's points. The Wildcats (9-16 overall, 6-5 GNAC) have one of the conference's lowest scoring offenses at 53.1 points per game as a team. Junior D'Ana Rolle (Gardner, Mass.) and senior Jenna Juron (Burnt Hill, N.Y.) each scored 14 points in the previous matchup between the two teams.

Men's Basketball

Suffolk will enter the 2013-14 GNAC Tournament as the number seven seed rounding out the regular season with a 6-12 mark in conference play and 9-16 overall mark. The Rams will head north to Standish, Maine to take on second-seed St. Joseph's College. It will be the second time the two teams square off in 10 days up north. The Monks were victorious in both previous meetings this seasons as they outlasted the Rams, 70-63 the last time they met on February 15. To be victorious this time Suffolk must find their way to the free-throw line as the Monks were called for just five fouls in the 40 minute contest giving the Rams only seven chances from the free-throw line.

Junior transfer guard Sam Nwadike (Houston, Tx.) has been Suffolk's leading offensive player all season averaging 17.4 points per game and 3.3 assists per game. Sophomore Caleb Unni (Winchester, Mass.) has come on strong as of late averaging 17.6 points per game over the Rams' last five games while connecting on 14 three-pointers in that span. Freshman Frantz Pinard (Arlington, Mass.) has been one of the league's top first year players earning GNAC Rookie of the Week honors on three separate occasions this season. Pinard has averaged 10.6 points per game for the Rams and a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game.

Tuesday's game will be a tale of two opposites as Suffolk enters with one of the league's top offenses scoring 75.8 points per game, while the Monks have the league's top defense holding opponents to 66.7 points per game. The Monks have used  five upperclassmen as regular starters on the season against the Rams, whose lone elder statesman to open the contest will be Nwadike (listed as a junior) in his first season for Suffolk. Two of the Monks' seniors; Matthew Mederios (Westport, Mass.) and Nicholas Jobin (Westbrook, Me.) have combined to average 36 points per game as a tandem for St. Joe's.

Hockey

Unlike the Basketball teams, the Suffolk University Hockey team must await their next opponent as the ECAC Northeast Conference rounds out their regular season on Tuesday evening. Suffolk clinched the number five seed on Saturday however as their victory pushes the Rams into their first postseason appearance since the 2009-10 season.

Hockey has been finding their stride as of late winning three of their final four games, including a four game home winning streak. Sophomore Brandon Smolarek (Chesterfield, Mich.) posted his first career shutout on Saturday blanking Wentworth 4-0 and making 30 saves in the process. Over the past four contests Smolarek has stopped 145 of 152 shots improving his record in conference play to 6-3-1 on the season while posting the league's fourth best goals against average at 2.33.

Senior Charlie McGinnis (Hanover, Mass.) rounded out the regular season as the Rams' leading goal scorer as his 10 tallies on the year paced the offense. McGinnis had multi-point nights in each of Suffolk's last two games bringing his total to 19 on the year. The senior forward has now registered 37 goals and 37 assists for a total of 74 points in 84 career games played. Alongside him has been freshman Simon Leahy (Milwaukee, Wis.) who shares the team lead in points. The freshman forward leads all first year skaters in the league with 13 points in conference action. Senior defenseman Jon Stauffer (Landsdale, Pa.) continues to provide stability on the Suffolk blueline with his two-way play. His 10 assists on the season tie for both the team-high and most among defensemen in the league. Offensively Suffolk has had depth all season. Senior Carmen Mastrangelo (Wellington, Fla.) will ride a four game point streak into the playoffs, scoring three goals during that span. Junior Tim Sprague (Plymouth, Mass.) has scored eight goals on the season, including three on the power-play while fellow classmate Dan Mazzei (Tewksbury, Mass.) is tied for seventh in the league with his team-high four goals with the extra man advantage.

Suffolk finished the season with a 9-14-1 overall record and 6-7-1 mark in ECAC Northeast play. The full ECAC Northeast Tournament bracket and pairings will be released on Tuesday evening.

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