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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    East Lyme’s Bauman has found her greatest success as grad transfer at No. 1 NYU

    A 2019 graduate of East Lyme High School and the Vikings’ all-time leading scorer, Megan Bauman, right, is playing this season for unbeaten New York University. The Violets will play Hardin-Simmons in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament Friday in New York City. (Photo courtesy of New York University Athletics)
    Megan Bauman is averaging 7.7 points and a team-high 4.3 assists for New York University, which is 27-0 headed into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III tournament Friday at home. Bauman was a first team all-conference selection in the UAA.

    Megan Bauman flourished for four years at East Lyme High School — she was the Vikings’ all-time leading scorer with 1,352 points — and for four more as the starting point guard at Babson College.

    Now a graduate transfer with the undefeated and top-ranked New York University women’s basketball team, Bauman is having her most successful season.

    The Violets (27-0) will play a home game in the NCAA Division III tournament Sweet 16 on Friday, meeting Hardin-Simmons.

    “I loved my time at Babson and played with some good players over there, but here it’s different,” Bauman said of her move to NYU. “Here, we have four All-Americans on one team and even beyond the four we have players that can score at will and be a No. 1 option any given night.

    “We’re so hard to scout. We have so many players that can step up.”

    Due to the troubles of the COVID-19 season in 2020, her first collegiate season, Bauman was granted an extra year of NCAA eligibility.

    Accepting the extra year and transferring to NYU was an easy decision for Bauman. Not only did she fit in perfectly with the basketball team but she made tremendous strides toward her professional aspirations, as well, due to NYU’s highly touted academic programs and networks.

    Bauman said: “I love basketball so much that I wanted to play, but I also want to work toward something that I’m going to use in my future. NYU was the perfect opportunity because they offered a sports business program more focused on consulting and analytics, which is what I want to do in the future. This way I was able to build on the business degree I got at Babson while still being able to play the game at a high level.”

    Bauman plans on pursuing a career in consulting or analytics for a sports team or third-party sports consulting firm.

    Although it turned out to be a great move for Bauman, assimilating into a program like NYU, one of the premier basketball schools in DIII, as a grad student is no small task.

    The point guard position at the college level is one of the hardest positions to understand in the sport, but Bauman managed to seamlessly transition to the Violets. In her post-grad year, Bauman has been averaging 7.7 points per game, leads the team in assists at 4.3 a game (third in the University Athletic Association) and earned a spot on the UAA all-conference first team.

    “I have the ability to score but my role as the point guard is to facilitate and control the floor the best I can. I could probably shoot more, but I don’t need to on this team. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite parts — it allows me to focus more on controlling the game and probing on defense,” she said.

    Inspired by the likes of Sue Bird and Chris Paul, Bauman takes pride in getting her teammates involved.

    On such a star-studded Violets roster, Bauman’s able to freely play within her comfort zone because of the trust she has in her teammates. With the back-to-back UAA Player of the Year in Natalie Bruns, back-to-back-to-back UAA Defensive Player of the Year Belle Pellecchia, first team All-UAA pick Morgan Morrison and the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year on the bench, Bauman’s usual burden has been severely reduced.

    Beating teams by an average of 27.4 points per game, the Violets have proven that nobody on their team can be taken lightly.

    “We’ve been building our chemistry since the summer playing pickup, but I think even now we’re still figuring each other out,” Bauman said. “Bruns and Morgan have always been dominant on the inside; they’re so hard to guard. But now I think we’re starting to move the ball around more and get a better variety of shots. It’s going to make us even more unstoppable once we figure it all out.”

    Bauman had especially high praise for her Pellecchia, her backcourt-mate and in-practice matchup who averages 10.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Bauman is constantly faced with the menacing intensity of Pellecchia in practice, which has made her better in the long term.

    “Belle, her defense is probably the best I’ve ever seen,” Bauman said. “Her on-ball defense is something I have never really seen before. Her ability to completely take the other team’s point guard out of the game is so crucial to our success.”

    Nearing the end of her collegiate career, Bauman has but one goal left, winning the national championship, a feat she was unable to reach at Babson a year ago. Although she has deep appreciation for her alma mater, the Elite Eight loss to Rhode Island College deeply motivated her to make amends this season in Manhattan.

    “The loss to RIC in the Elite Eight was a low moment but at the same time it made me even more hungry for this year. We beat them by a lot in the regular season, then lost in the playoffs — we weren’t playing our best basketball,” Bauman said. “I learned that you can’t take anybody for granted, can’t take any games lightly, especially in March. It hurt bad in the moment but I worked really hard in the summer and through the fall, so I don’t plan on making that mistake again.

    “It’s like life, sometimes bad things happen even when they shouldn’t, but what matters is how you respond and get better.”

    NYU defeated Millsaps 78-51 and DeSales 93-59 in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament last weekend in Center Valley, Pennsylvania.

    To keep the undefeated season afloat, Bauman and the Violets must face Hardin-Simmons. The winner of that game will play either Scranton or Johns Hopkins in the Elite Eight on Saturday. The Final Four is scheduled for March 14-16 in Columbus, Ohio.

    z.cunningham@theday.com

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