PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Another successful season will continue for the University of the Sciences women's basketball team this weekend as the Devils open play in the Division II NCAA Tournament. The #3 seed in the East Region, the Devils will play #6 seed LIU-Post in the first round on Friday in Easton, Massachusetts.
The Devils are in the tourney for a second straight season after winning their second straight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference title with a 64-56 win over Jefferson on Sunday.
"It's very, very exciting for our program," Sciences head coach Jackie Hartzell tells KYW Newsradio. "We were very fortunate to beat a very good Jefferson team [Sunday] and we're thrilled to win back-to-back championships and excited for next week at the NCAA Tournament."
Hartzell, the CACC Coach of the Year, has enjoyed extraordinary success since taking over the program at Sciences in 2013. As the head coach of the Devils, she is 104-44 (.703 winning percentage). These last two seasons as CACC champs have been particularly dominant as her squads have gone 55-9 (28-3 this season).
Hartzell says she has a special group of players that have worked to get where they are.
"I have definitely taken a moment to step back and appreciate just the kids that we have in our program," she says. "They're incredible. Just their work ethic, they're just great kids. They work really, really hard."
The Devils are led by senior guard and CACC Player of the Year Sarah Abbonizio, who averages 15.6 points per game. Junior guard Alex Thomas chips in 15.2 points a game. In addition, the Devils have gotten great play down the stretch from freshman guard Irisa Ye. She scored 24 points combined in the semifinals and finals of the conference tourney, connecting on 9 of 14 shots from the field.
LIU-Post out of the East Coast Conference is 22-7. The Pioneers lost to NYIT in the semifinals of their conference tournament.
"They're very good," Hartzell says. "They're very athletic, they press. They are very well coached."
Friday's first round game will get started at noon. The winner gets the winner of Jefferson/Bentley in the second round on Saturday.