SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – February 27, 2008 –Senior guard Christine Cotter (Stoughton, Mass.) scored 19 points and added 4 rebounds to lead the Springfield College women’s basketball team to a 67-40 victory over Wellesley College this evening in a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference first-round tournament playoff game at James Naismith Court at Blake Arena.
With the win, Springfield, the #3-seed in the NEWMAC Tourney, raised its record to 15-10 overall, while Wellesley, the #6-seed, ended its season by falling to 7-17 overall.
As a result, Springfield has advanced to play in the NEWMAC semis on Saturday, March 1 at 3 pm against #2-seeded Coast Guard at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Coast Guard has already beaten Springfield twice this season, including last Saturday in New London, Conn.
The only other double-figure scorer for Springfield was the team’s only other senior, guard Tara McCarthy (Bristol, R.I.), who scored 12 points. Both Cotter and McCarthy, each a 1,000-point scorer, were playing their final home game of solid four-year careers at Springfield College. Junior forward Corey Finch (Hanover, Pa.) and junior center Lauren O’Connor (Valhalla, N.Y.) each scored 8 points for the Pride. O’Connor pulled down 10 rebounds in the process. Freshman point-guard Rachelle Walker (Lee, Mass.) added 7 points, and had 2 assists and 3 steals.
For Wellesley, junior Jessica Duff (Milton, England) scored 16 points and added a game-high 20 rebounds. Junior center Julia Thomas (Concord, Calif.) had 11 points and 9 rebounds.
Springfield never trailed in this game. There were two ties early at 2-all and 5-all. McCarthy then hit a 3-pointer with 15:47 left, and SC had taken the lead for good.
But the Pride was never in full control in that half. McCarthy made a lay-up with 1:19 left, and that gave Springfield a 28-21 lead entering the intermission.
Duff had scored 12 of Wellesley’s 21 halftime points, and had 10 rebounds at that juncture. Wellesley also had a 25-15 rebounding edge at that point, keeping the Blue in the game.
But Springfield then turned on the after-jets. Each team scored an opening basket in the first two minutes of the second stanza, giving Springfield a 30-23 edge with 18:03 left.
Then Springfield ran away by scoring the next 18 points, using a three-quarter-court trap, going up by a count of 48-23 with 10:39 left on a lay-up by junior center/forward Liz Brosseau (Franklin, Mass.). Springfield would eventually lead by as many as 30 on four occasions in the second half, the last of which came at 65-35 with 1:50 left when Cotter scored her last two points via the charity stripe in Blake Arena.
Wellesley finished with a huge 55-36 edge in rebounding, including an incredible 29 offensive boards. But the Blue turned it over 26 times to Springfield’s 9. SC shot .397 for the game (27-of-68), but Wellesley shot just .213 (13-of-61), including just .171 (6-of-35) in the second half. Springfield finished with 35 points off turnovers to Wellesley’s 7.
The NEWMAC semis will take place at Wheaton Saturday. All the higher seeds advanced tonight. In the first game Saturday at 1 pm, #1-seeded Wheaton will play #4-seeded WPI. Then at 3 pm, #2-seeded Coast Guard will play #3-seeded Springfield. The NEWMAC final will be played Sunday at 1 pm, again at Wheaton, with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line.