Gilligan playing his best

College Journal | SNHU basketball senior going out with a flourish.

Amherst’s Devin Gilligan is on top of the Northeast-10 men’s basketball world.

Gilligan, the senior guard for the Southern New Hampshire University Penmen, was named the conference’s Player of the Year on Thursday.

Gilligan had a breakout season, averaging 20.2 points a game, shooting 58.3 percent (194 of 333) from the floor, as well as 46.7 percent (43 of 92) from 3-point range. He finished sixth in the conference in scoring, third in field goals made and 3-point shooting, fourth in field goal percentage, 10th in offensive rebound (2.3 per game) and free throws made, as well as 13th in overall rebounding.

Gilligan had five double-doubles this past seson, scoring in double figures in 25 of the 26 games he started, and averaged 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He scored 20 or more points 15 times, and 30-plus three times. He had a 10-game consecutive stretch of 19 or more points from Dec. 7 to Jan. 18. His career high was 31 points against Adelphi on Jan. 14.

The award and the All-NE-10 First Team spot that goes with it are the first All-Conference honors Gilligan transferred from Souhegan to Kimball Union in 2012, and graduated from KU in 2013.

He began his college career with a scholarship to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. before transferring to SNHU in 2014.

Rivier women’s hoop

Despite their season ending on Tuesday night with a 66-52 Great Northeast Athletic Conference quarterfinal loss to Johnson & Wales, it was a season to remember for the Rivier University women’s basketball team.

The Raiders finished 10-15 overall, but according to head coach Paul Williams, “It was definitely a winning year in many regards.”

What made it that way? The ultimate progress of a couple of seniors, including Nashua’s Caitlyn Perry. Other bright spots were a holiday week trip to Puerto Rico where the Raiders faced top competition they will probably not see again, and a huge upset in their final home game of longtime nemesis St. Joseph’s of Maine.

Perry ended the season – and her Riv career – averaging 16.0 points a game. She came a long way in her four years.

“She definitely did,” Williams said. “She definitely developed her game, as she came from a program (Nashua South) that had struggled to a college program that had had some success, and she retooled her game, realizing that she didn’t have to do it all and could rely on the people around her.”

Londonderry’s Savanna Butterfield, another senior, scored her 1,000th point early in the season against rival Daniel Webster, and she had two triple doubles this season – the most, according to Williams, of any Division III women’s player in the country.

“She’s the ultimate competitor,” he said. “Personal accolades are nice, but she was always about the team, and understood what it meant to be part of a team.”

Butterfield ended the season averaging 11.3 points but averaged a team-best 9.8 rebounds. She had 16 points in the playoff loss to J&W.

The Raiders lost their two games vs. Berry and Wisconsin-Platteville in Puerto Rico by 23 and 40 points, but the experience, Williams said, was invaluable.

“I wanted to do something special for the senior class, a signature trip that they’ll always have,” he said. “We saw some of the best competition in Division III that we will ever see.”

But the Raider season was capped by a huge win in their home finale over St. Joseph’s, 66-61, earlier this month. St. Joe’s had ended good Raider teams’ seasons in the tournament over the years. That was a fitting farewell for Perry, Butterfield, plus fellow seniors Rebecca DeBaldo, Caitlin Bulger, and Kayla Davis.

“It was definitely great for our senior class, players who had their season ended by them before,” Williams said. “They were 19-2 in Divsion III this season. A great way for them to go out at home.”

Next year? The Raiders best player coming back will be their leading scorer, current sophomore Kaylee Kacavas of Dracut, Mass., who averaged just over 16 a game this year.

Before the final basketball game ever, the school’s all-time rebounding leader at 1,080 boards, Sheryl Arduino, returned to be presented with her banner that had been on display in the gym. Arduino was a 2001 graduate.

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The basketball/winter season is officially over at Daniel Webster as the Eagle women fell to Elms College in Chicopee, Mass., 88-57 in the quarterfinals of the New England Collegiate Conference tourney.

The Eagles went out in the final game of their history with arguably their three best players playing well as Kayla Free had 19 points, followed by Escarlin Reynoso with 15 and Natasha Santana with 14. The final tally: 8-18 overall.

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Elsewhere with local athletes peforming well at schools:

It’s baseball season for most colleges, especially at the Divison I level, as they’ve headed down south to start the season.

Merrimack’s Mickey Gasper, last year’s Futures Collegiate League Player of the Year with the Nashus Silver Knights, had a great start to the season for Bryant University.

Gasper, Bryant’s junior catcher, was named the Northeast Conference Player of the Week. All he did was go 9 for 17 (.529) with a triple, home run, three RBIs, four runs scored and a .579 OBP in the first four games of the year.

He opened the season with a pair of hits on Friday, before collecting three hits and scoring three runs in the first game on Saturday. Gasper went back-to-back with Ward in the fifth and then tripled off the left-center wall in the sixth. He added a single in game two and the next game, this past Sunday, he had three hits and an RBI….

Nashua North alum Ricky Constant already has a win under his belt in relief for the UMass-Lowell baseball team. In fact, it was the River Hawks’ first win of the year, an 11-8 triumph over the University of Connecticut in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Thus far he’s made two appearances, tossing a total of 3.2 innings with opponents batting .231 against him…

Southern New Hampshire University’s softball team has gotten help from a couple of local freshmen infielders early on en route to a 4-1 start in its season-opening trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Milford’s Erin Tyrell went 3 for 6 with a homer and three RBIs in a doubleheader win, and is batting .368 overall. Former Nashua North standout Hannah Neverett is batting .273 with two homers and five runs scored in six games…

Hudson’s Brittney Lambert was recently selected as the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Female Student-Athlete of the Week. Lambert had a career-best 17 points, including five 3-pointes, plus two rebounds in 23 minutes in a win over Wellesley. She also had two rebounds and a steal in nine minutes of play against Springfield…

Litchfield’s Nicole Cordingley helped St. Michael’s of Vermont finish seventh in the recent Middlebury Alpine/Nordic Ski Carnival. Cordingley finished 33rd in the alpine event.

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Rivier University men’s volleyball just picked up two individual GNAC awards and one on the national level. Senior Matt LaSance (Madison, Ct.) was named not only the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week, but also the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s National Player of the Week.

The Raiders, ranked 13th nationally in Divison III at last look, enjoyed a 3-0 week last week, including a 3-2 win over seventh-ranked Keen University. He averaged 13.45 assists per set, including a career high 61 assists in the Kean win, plus 40 assists each in the wins over Regis and GNAC foe Johnson&Wales. It’s the 15th time the Raiders have had a player win the national award, first since Tyler Blank in 2016.

Meanwhile, Rivier junior libero Garrett Bucklin (Jamestown, R.I.) was the GNAC Defensive Player of the Week.

Bucklin had 31 digs and 2.82 digs per set during the week, including a 16-dig effort against Kean. While this was LaSance’s first award, Bucklin has been the conference’s top defensive player in three out of the first five weeks of the season