Babson Uses Second-Half Rally To Edge WPI, 55-53

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WORCESTER, Mass.—First-year Giovanna Pickering (Hull, Mass.) scored 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and visiting Babson College outscored WPI 30-12 over the first 13 and a half minutes of the second half before holding on for a 55-53 victory in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's basketball action on Saturday afternoon at Harrington Auditorium.

With the win, Babson is now 9-10 overall and 9-6 in the NEWMAC, while WPI falls to 8-11 on the year and 6-8 in conference play.

Sophomore Linnett Graber (Roseland, N.J.) chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds, while classmate Briana Hunt (Newton, Mass.) and first-year Taylor Russell (Braintree, Mass.) netted eight and seven points, respectively, for the Beavers.

Junior Amaia Gritsko (Milford, Conn.) led all players with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Engineers. Classmate Dani Davis (East Granby, Conn.) added 13 points and nine boards, and senior Kelly Morgan (Brookline, N.H.) knocked down three three-pointers and had 11 points in the loss.

Babson quickly erased a seven-point halftime deficit, scoring on five of its first seven possessions to open the second half with a 10-0 run. Russell started the surge with a layup on the half's first possession, and she followed a hoop by sophomore Megan Otto (Scituate, Mass.) with another bucket to give the Beavers a 31-28 edge 4:05 into the period.

Four straight points from Gritsko just after the midway point of the second half gave WPI a 40-39 lead, but Babson responded with 12 straight points, six from Pickering and five from Hunt, to go ahead 51-40 with 6:31 left in the game. Pickering's final hoop of the afternoon gave the Green and White a 55-45 lead with 3:09 remaining.

Morgan drilled a three-pointer and made a deep jumper from the wing on consecutive trips to pull the Engineers back within 55-50 at the 1:15 mark. Following a missed free throw, the Beavers blocked three WPI attempts but Gritsko scored on WPI's fourth offensive rebound of the possession and was fouled, completing the three-point play to cut Babson's lead to 55-53 with 39 seconds to go.

The Green and White missed a layup on the ensuing possession, but the Engineers missed on two final opportunities to tie the game. Davis missed a jumper from the left baseline and then had her desperation three-pointer bounce off the front rim as time expired, helping Babson grab a pivotal road victory.

WPI never trailed in the opening half, shooting 42.9 percent and leading by as many as eight. Leading 10-9, the Engineers strung together a 12-4 spurt, keyed by a pair of three-pointers from Morgan.

Babson missed nine of its first 12 field goal attempts and went scoreless for five minutes midway through the half. The Beavers held WPI to just three field goals over the final five and a half minutes of the stanza to stay within seven, 28-21, at the break.

The Green and White finished the game shooting 38.2 percent (21-for-55) and outscored WPI 17-10 off turnovers. The Engineers shot just 35 percent (21-for-60) but held a 46-32 edge on the glass.

Both teams return to action at home on Wednesday night at Babson takes on Emerson at 8 p.m., while WPI will play Smith in a 7:30 p.m. start.

GAME NOTES: The Beavers are now 29-20 all-time against WPI and have won 12 straight games over the Engineers going back to 2010…Babson is now 6-3 on the year when shooting 38 percent or better from the field…The Beavers tied its season low for turnovers on Saturday with just 13…Graber has now hit double figures in four straight games and five of the last six overall, while Pickering has been in double figures in four the last five contests.