Maine is next stop for DeSales women

Former Honesdale and DeSales guard Morgan Birmelin
Former Honesdale and DeSales guard Morgan Birmelin

The midway point between the two campuses is somewhere within the confines of District 2, but DeSales University and Ithaca College will both be far from home Friday when they meet in a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III women’s basketball sectional game.

The teams play at 5 p.m. at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Honesdale graduate Morgan Birmelin led DeSales through the first two rounds of the tournament last weekend.

The Bulldogs also have Scranton Prep graduate Bridget Walsh in the starting lineup and Wallenpaupack graduate Molly Jansco coming off the bench as they try to come up with the two wins needed to reach the Final Four.

DeSales was just 5-12 in its NCAA Tournament history before overpowering two opponents at home extend its winning streak to 22 games and improve to 27-2.

The Bulldogs defeated Shenandoah University, 77-49, and Middlebury College, 70-55.

Birmelin, the national Division III leader in assists, set a DeSales career record in that category with 642 during the Middlebury game. She had 19 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals in the win while breaking the record of 640 held by DeSales Hall of Famer Tina Costello.

Walsh chipped in with eight points and two blocked shots.

During the victory, DeSales tied school records for consecutive home wins (21) and most overall wins in a season.

Birmelin led the first-round win with 21 points and 5 assists. She broke Costello’s single-season assist record during the win.

The Bulldogs ran away with 22 straight points for a 42-11 lead midway through the second quarter.

Walsh added 10 points and 6 rebounds.

The DeSales-Ithaca winner plays the Bowdoin-SUNY New Paltz winner Saturday.