Rivers alumni made significant contributions on the court and on the ice this winter, including a few notable highlights. Yale senior Jen Berkowitz, Rivers ’14, led their basketball team to their first Ivy League Tournament appearance, earning first team All-Ivy for her efforts. She then led the team to win the Women’s Basketball Invitational Championship, the only women’s team in Ivy League history to claim a postseason tournament title. Meanwhile Villanova freshman Jermaine Samuels, Rivers ’17, will find it hard to top the excitement of being on the NCCA championship team his inaugural year.
Not only did Yale win the WBI title, they were the first to win it as the visiting team. For her efforts, Berkowitz was named the MVP of the tournament. The Women’s Basketball Invitational brings together the top Division I Women’s teams who did not qualify for the NCAA tournament. Leading up to the finals, the Bulldogs were pitted against Northeastern (68-58), Binghamton (70-64), and South Alabama (76-74). They defeated Central Arkansas on their home court 54-50, with Berkowitz giving her team the lead with 29 seconds to go, then wrapping it up with two free throws. She finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds. A 1,000 point career scorer, Berkowitz finished her collegiate career in the top 10 in the Ivy League in scoring and rebounding.
Just starting his own collegiate career, Samuels was sidelined mid-season with a broken bone in his hand, but returned to the floor in time to make several appearances with the Wildcats during their run to the NCAA championship. Probably most memorable was the opportunity to play in TD Garden and make the final cut to the game net after the team won the Elite Eight against Texas Tech.
“Yeah, it was amazing the journey I had the chance to be a part of,” commented Samuels. “I love the guys around me and it meant more to me than anything to do it with them. The injury did hinder my freshman year, but I learned to move on from it and get better, whether I was in the game or not.”
Of course, key to any team’s success is great coaching, and Gettysburg College recently signed Rivers alum B.J. Dunne ’06 to be the new men’s basketball head coach. Dunne just finished up his fourth year as head coach at Vassar College after serving one year as assistant. At the time of his appointment at Vassar, he was the youngest coach in the NCAA. Dunne graduated from Bates College in 2010, then served for one year as assistant coach at Babson, then at Emerson before heading to Vassar.
Also of note: Rising UConn senior Miles Gendron, Rivers ’14 has been named captain of the Huskies ice hockey team. He has amassed 26 points in 96 career games at UConn after playing for one year with the Penticton Vees in the BCHL.