Beavers Reach NEWMAC Championship Game For Sixth Time In Last Seven Years
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.—Junior Linnett Graber (Roseland, N.J.) scored a game-high 19 points and fourth-seeded Babson College rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to upset top-seeded Springfield College, 64-57, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament semifinal on Saturday afternoon at Blake Arena.
With the victory, Babson (19-8) advances to the conference title game for the sixth time in the last seven years. Springfield (19-7), which is ranked eighth in the most recent NCAA regional rankings must wait until Monday to see if they earn an at-large bid to the national tournament.
Graber was 5-of-10 from the field and 8-of-10 at the free throw line to go along with three rebounds and three assists . Roche finished 3-of-7 from the floor and made a pair of huge three-pointers in the final five minutes for the Beavers. Sophomore Giovanna Pickering (Hull, Mass.) added eight points, five rebounds, four assists in the win.
Sophomore Lexi Windwer (Milton, Mass.) notched a team-high 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from three-point range to lead the Pride. Junior Heather Lewis (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) added 14 points and six rebounds, while senior Jaimie Bickelhaupt (Brookfield, Conn.) chipped in with eight points and seven boards in the loss.
Windwer knocked down a pair of early triples to help Springfield race out to a 14-4 lead just over six minutes into the game. Babson cut its deficit to seven on a three-pointer by Graber with 8:18 to play in the stanza, but the Pride scored on its next four possessions to take its biggest lead of the contest at 29-13 on a three-pointer by Windwer with 5:48 to play until halftime.
Graber and Roche combined for the final seven points of the opening period for the Green and White, which shot just 27.9 before halftime and trailed 33-20 at the break.
The Beavers wasted little time getting back into the game as they opened the second half with a 21-4 run. Graber, Pickering and sophomores Jennifer Narlee (Medfield, Mass.) and Taylor Russell (Braintree, Mass.) each scored four points during the spurt as Babson took the lead on a jumper by Graber, and then moved in front 41-37 when junior Kristen Ferola (Amherst, Mass.) drilled a trey two possessions later.
Sophomore Dina Pitsas (Milford, N.H.) stopped the momentum momentarily with two free throws, but the Green and White ran off six consecutive points to push its lead to 47-39 with 7:39 to play in the game. The Pride countered with a 7-0 run to pull within one, but Roche connected on back-to-back three-pointers, and Pickering followed with a hoop as the Beavers made it 55-48 with 2:28 left.
Springfield got as close as five in the closing minutes, but Babson went 9-of-10 at the free throw line to seal the win.
The Green and White shot just 34.5 percent (19-of-55) from the field, but outscored the Pride 22-8 at the free throw line, and turned 18 Springfield turnovers into 22 points.
The Pride shot 44 percent (22-of-50) on the afternoon, and held a 37-31 edge on the glass.
Babson will take on second-seeded Wheaton for the NEWMAC championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Blake Arena.
GAME NOTES: Babson is 23-10 all-time against Springfield and has won 16 of the last 18 meetings, including three straight in the NEWMAC Tournament, against the Pride…the victory was just the second this season for the Beavers when trailing at halftime…Babson is now 18-3 on the year when scoring at least 60 points, and 15-1 when holding its opponent under 60 points…the Beavers, who won five consecutive NEWMAC titles from 2009-13, have won 15 of their last 16 conference tournament games…Babson is 15-4 on the year when forcing at least 18 turnovers.