Pendergast powers Seahawks to CCC victory

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NEWPORT, R.I. - Salve Regina senior forward Marissa Pendergast (Medfield, Mass.) scored a game-high 19 points and snared a game-high seven rebounds to power her team over Nichols College, 72-47, in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) women's basketball action at the Rodgers Recreation Center.

The Seahawks (4-5; 2-1 CCC) had a season-high 21 assists, led by five apiece from senior Lisa Bucci (Irvington, N.Y.) and sophomore Meaghan Harden (Sandwich, Mass.).

"It wasn't easy," said seventh-year head coach Cori Hughes. "We played extremely well and had to because they're (Bison) a very good team. Defensively we played much better today, and offensively we were making good decisions with the ball. We ran our offensive sets, but also made adjustments and exploited what the defense gave us."

Nichols' junior guard Amber Litwinko (Berlin, Conn.) scored the first jumper one minute into the game. She also scored the next Bison basket on a layup at 14:25, but after the Seahawks went on a 12-0 run.

Junior Laura Anne Dinan (Monterey, Mass.) sank her first jumper of the game at 18:28 to start the Salve Regina run. Brianna Del Valle (Belchertown, Mass.), Pendergast, and Harden then accounted for four layups before Harden's free throws gave Salve Regina its first double-digit lead, 12-2, at 14:32.

When Kelsey Kennedy (Medford, N.J.) hit her jumper at 12:21 in the first half, all five Seahawk starters had made field goals in the game. Pendergast's layup at 8:49 put Salve Regina up by a dozen (22-10) before Nichols (6-3; 1-2 CCC) went on a 7-0 run.

Senior Devon Spirka (Wilmington, Vt.) and Litwinko combined for three layups in the run to close the gap to five points (22-17). After a Salve Regina timeout, Bucci assisted Del Valle on a layup.

"I have players on the court that I trust with the ball," said Bucci of her playmaking role. "They help me look good because of what they're able to do with the ball."

Salve Regina closed the half on a 15-5 run which included two jumpers from junior Cortney Rosenlund (Whitinsville, Mass.). Bucci had a 3-pointer in the final minute and Del Valle swished a jumper just before the buzzer for a 37-22 Seahawk advantage at the break.

Salve Regina opened the second half on a 9-0 run featuring two Del Valle jumpers, a Kennedy 3-pointer, and a Harden layup. Alexis Wegrzynek (Wilbraham, Mass.), who scored all of her team-high 12 points in the second half, made three baskets in a short span to cut the deficit to 20 points (48-28), but Salve Regina's 13-2 run later in the period iced the game.

Freshman Jillian Woodward (Orono, Maine) made a layup at 2:38 for the Seahawks' largest lead, 72-42. The Seahawks commited more turnovers (18-17) but also converted Bison turnovers into 21 points, compared to just eight for Nichols.

Del Valle finished with 16 points and Harden added 10 points for the Seahawks. Litwinko joined Wegrzynek in double-figures with 12 points.

Both teams are on the road Tuesday to face Commonwealth Coast Conference opponents - Salve Regina travels to Endicott College while Nichols moves on to Milton, Mass., to face Curry College. Salve Regina returns home on Thursday, January 9, when it hosts defending conference champion University of New England.