New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Undefeated NYU women’s basketball fighting for first national title in 27 years

The No. 1 Violets have been stumped at the Elite Eight for two years in a row, but are coming off their third consecutive UAA championship and have their sights set on glory.
Krish Dev
The women’s basketball team after winning 72-52 against Johns Hopkins University on Nov. 11, 2023. (Krish Dev for WSN)

On March 22, 1997, NYU played in the NCAA women’s basketball Division III Championship at 181 Mercer St., formerly the Jerome S. Coles Sports Center. The Violets faced the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The game was tied 70-70 with only two seconds left when all-time leading scorer and NYU Hall of Famer Marsha Harris made the winning layup. 

Since that victory, NYU women’s basketball has qualified for 13 NCAA tournaments, even reaching the Final Four in 2007, but has been unable to recreate the magic they found back in ’97.     

Over the last four years, the Violets came the closest they’ve ever been to that championship 27 years ago. In 2020, the team made it to the second round of the Sweet Sixteen. In 2022 and 2023, they reached the Elite Eight. 

This season, however, seems to be NYU’s best shot. The squad is as experienced as ever. At center is senior Natalie Bruns — a three-year team member and recently scored her 1,000th career point. Junior guard Belle Pellecchia has played on the team for three years and is the back-to-back University Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year. Guard Erica Miller, a graduate student and four-year team member, entered this season with the best three-point percentage in NYU history. 

The Violets also acquired graduate student Morgan Morrison, who transferred from Smith College. Morrison is the reigning 2023 WBCA NCAA Division III Player of the Year and last season led her team to the Final Four.  

The point guard for the Violets is graduate student Megan Bauman. Bauman transferred from Babson College, where she led the NCAA DIII in free throw percentage. Bruns believes this year is the best chance NYU has had in 27 years. 

“This year is different because we have experience on our roster,” Bruns said. “From our grad transfers to our returners, we understand what it takes to win a national championship.”

This Violet team is currently ranked first in all of DIII and is undefeated at 24-0, the longest winning streak in program history. 

NYU clinched its third consecutive UAA Championship this past weekend. The Violets have all the momentum they need heading into the NCAA tournament, but with multiple core team members graduating next season, this may be the Violet’s last chance for glory. 

“For many of our players this is our last chance to play basketball together and win a championship,” Bruns said. “So every minute we’ve had together we’ve poured out all we’ve had.”

NYU has a chance to host a postseason game at home for the first time since 2015 in the newly-opened Paulson Center — located at 181 Mercer St. It would be the perfect environment for NYU to start their championship hopes. 

“We feed off energy in Paulson and having fans there that are excited for us will only fuel our fire,” Bruns said.  

The host of the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament along with the opponents NYU will face will be announced on Feb. 26.

Contact Liam Restivo at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Krish Dev
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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