Published February 11. 2014 4:00AM Updated February 11. 2014 4:38AM
• First-year coach MaryLynn Skarzenski has guided the Mitchell College women's basketball team to one of the program's best NECC seasons. The Mariners (13-8 overall) are in second place with a 13-2 mark. Mitchell needs two wins in its final three regular season games to set the program mark for wins in the conference. The 2008-09 Mariners went 14-2 in the NECC.
"She's had a large impact," senior Kate Mulloy said of Skarzenski. "She really takes time with us and explains a lot of things, what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong. When we come out of a game, we know why we're coming out of the game. She just generally cares about us and cares about what we're doing. ... She's been a huge help."
Skarzenski, a former Nichols College standout, left Daniel Webster to take over at Mitchell. It didn't take long for the new coach to build team chemistry and turn around a program that went 7-18 overall last season.
"It was getting them to believe that we could win and turn it around," Skarzenski said. "Once they saw what we were able to do and they started to come together, it's easy after that. We're having fun. ... They're a great group of girls."
• Mitchell will attempt to beat host Connecticut College for the first time in men's basketball when the two teams meet tonight at 7.
The Mariners (15-5) are enjoying their best season in the New England Collegiate Conference, sitting in first place at 11-2. The Camels have lost six of their last eight games overall to drop to 9-11. Conn held on to win the previous two meetings, winning 80-77 in overtime in 2011-12 and 83-74 last season. Matt Vadas was the difference in both games, scoring 19 and 23 points. Vadas needs just 39 points to become the program's all-time leading scorer. He's averaging a team-best 18.9 points per game.
Joshua Ford (22.4 points, 12.5 rebounds) and Parris Hill (21.3 points, 9.6 rebounds) are the top scorers for the Mariners.
Camels in the spotlight
• Senior Julia Pielock is the Conn College swimmer to watch at this weekend's NESCAC Championship at Bowdoin College. She is the defending champion in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events. The Camels are ranked 16th in the country in Division III.
• Caitlin Cimino has been a defensive force for the women's basketball team. She has a team-high 34 blocks for the Camels 12-10 overall, 4-4 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, and ranks third in career blocks with 117.
• After opening the season with seven straight losses, the men's hockey team has fought its way back into the post-season picture by winning four of the last five games. Goalie Mike Petchonka and J.C. Cangelosi, who leads the team in goals (12), assists (10) and points (22), have fueled the late-season surge.
• The women's track distance medley team is ranked fourth on the NCAA national performance list after setting a school record (12:05.84) at the Boston University Valentine Invitational Saturday. Bella Franz, Amanda Jacobsen, Caroline Leonard and Kim Block comprise the foursome.
Franz also is the second ranked freshman in the nation in the 800 meters (2:14.16).
Tracking the Bears
• The Coast Guard Academy women's basketball team beat rival Merchant Marine, 60-37, on Monday for the first time since Jan. 30, 2008. The Bears (16-5) already have one more win than in the previous two seasons combined.
Junior Brittney Zimmerman is 19 points shy of scoring her 1,000 career point. She transferred to Coast Guard after scoring 543 points in two seasons at Delaware Valley College.
Around the region
• Senior Alexa Long of Waterford continues to climb the St. Michael's College women's basketball program's career rebounding charts. She moved into 15th place after grabbing 10 rebounds in a loss to Stonehill College on Saturday. Long has 570 career rebounding, needing just seven to take over 12th place. She also had 10 points against Stonehill for her ninth double-double this season.
• Norwich Free Academy graduate Hannah Hinsch, a freshman member of the Cincinnati women's lacrosse team, earned honors student-athlete status after posting a 3.3 grade point average as a sports administration major. She also attended Northfield Mount Hermon.
• UConn sophomore Breanna Stewart was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week for women's basketball for the third time this season. She averaged 22 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 assists while leading the top-ranked Huskies to wins over SMU and No. 4 Louisville.
• Southern Connecticut State University freshman Christian Berg, a Fitch High School graduate, broke the school, pool and conference record in the 200 yard backstroke at the Northeast-10 swimming and diving championships last weekend. His time of 1:47.48 ranked him ninth in the country in Division II. He also won the 100 backstroke, finishing in a conference record 50.1 seconds, and swam a leg on the winning and conference-record setting 400 medley relay team, helping the Owls to the team title.
Brendan Murphy of Waterford won the 100 freestyle in 46.52 and competed on the winning 200 freestyle relay.
• Rhode Island College freshman Megan McNeil of Pawcatuck placed third on the floor exercise with a score of 9.175 in a recent gymnastics meet against College at Brockport. She also was fourth on the bars (8.600) and seventh overall (8.700).
• Montville graduate Danielle Autencio is the leading rebounder for the Lasell College women's basketball team. She is averaging 9.9 rebounds and 9.7 points while appearing in all 21 games, starting all but one.
- Gavin Keefe