Baldwin Wallace knew it was getting a special talent when Riley Schill joined its women’s basketball program. Now the Yellow Jackets are hoping Schill can help make this a special season.
The junior from Elyria Catholic does a little bit of everything for the Yellow Jackets, who are trying to get back to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time since 2015. Baldwin Wallace enters the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed and will host Ohio Northern in the quarterfinals tonight at 7.
If it wins, it will host the semifinals Thursday at 7 p.m. with the championship scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. Rival John Carroll is first in line to host the final as the top seed, but if BW advances and winds up facing anyone else the game would be played in Berea.
The winner of the tournament earns the OAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“It would be awesome to qualify,” Schill said. “We all want that for ourselves as a team and for our seniors. We finished last season disappointed. We were all hungry to come back and do even better.”
Since arriving on campus in 2016, she’s appeared in all 77 games for the Yellow Jackets and became the starting point guard as a sophomore.
Schill made a couple of areas a priority this offseason, the first being her 3-point shooting. She’d never shot better than 30 percent from beyond the arc and wanted to try and stretch out her game. Baldwin Wallace coach Cheri Harrer said Schill is excellent at getting to the rim, and strengthening her outside shot would make it harder for defenders to play off of her.
She started the season shooting about 35 percent from 3-point range, but a recent slump has her back around her career level of 28 percent.
The other area Schill focused on was driving to her left. Her first two years she primarily drove with her right hand and wanted to become more of a threat going both ways.
Harrer said she’s also become a more vocal leader.
“She’s more willing to take charge,” Harrer said. “She’s become much better at changing speeds and being a little more crafty. Her ability to run the break for us is huge. She does a great job of pushing the pace, kicking it ahead and finding people running, but she also understands when to get us into offense as well.”
The Yellow Jackets are in search of their first OAC Tournament victory since advancing to the finals and losing to Mount Union in 2016. Schill played in both losses the last two years, leading the team with 14 points her freshman season and landing on the OAC Tournament team despite losing in the semifinals.
Baldwin Wallace made an appearance in D3Hoops.com’s top 25 after the first week of the season, and peeked at No. 19 before a slew of injuries caused a rough stretch in late December and early January.
But the Yellow Jackets didn’t let that ruin their season, finishing 19-6 overall and ranked sixth in the NCAA’s second batch of regional rankings — the ones that decide which teams get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“When that adversity hit, we decided that it wasn’t going to be one person that steps up and saves the day for us,” Schill said. “It’s going to be us working together as a team. When we faced those adversities, we became closer. It was really cool to see because we all stepped up a little bit and did our job better together. I think going into the tournament, our mentality is together and we’re focusing on playing as one unit. We pride ourselves on being the tighter team.”