SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- November 20, 2007 -- It was a successful Homecoming of sorts as freshman guard Rachelle Walker of nearby Lee, Mass. scored a team-high 19 points to lead the Springfield College women's basketball team to an impressive 68-52 victory over Williams College tonight at Chandler Gymnasium.
With the victory, the Pride jumped its record to 2-1, while the Ephs fell to 1-2.
"This was one of our better efforts of the past two years," said Springfield Head Coach Naomi Graves, who picked up her 249th career victory while at Springfield (she is now in her 17th year). Graves has 317 victories in this her 23rd year as a head coach overall. "Williams is always a tough place to play."
Walker was just one of three Springfield players who scored in double figures. Scoring 16 points apiece for the Pride were junior center Lauren O'Connor (Valhalla, N.Y.) and senior guard and co-captain Tara McCarthy (Bristol, R.I.). O'Connor also added 14 rebounds.
Two others also had solid games for Springfield. They included senior guard and co-captain Christine Cotter (Stoughton, Mass.) with 7 points and 6 assists, and junior forward Corey Finch (Hanover, Pa.) with 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Still, it was a night for Walker, who seemed to find a comfort zone in the gym as soon as she walked in. A vociferous total of 20 or so friends and family members were there to root her on. Walker finished with 19 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals. She was 7-of-11 from the field, 4-of-6 from three-point range, and 1-for-1 from the free throw line. She scored 11 of her 19 points in the second half, including three 3-pointers in the last five minutes, which kept Williams at bay. Walker's other 3-pointer came in the game's first 44 seconds as she calmly tied the game at 3-all in that early moment.
The first half was a great half from a spectators' point of view. The see-saw affair had Williams leading by as many as four (14-10) just 5:30 into the game. But Springfield used a 10-1 run in the last 3:25, starting with two free throws by junior center Liz Brosseau (Franklin, Mass.), to give the Pride a 34-27 lead at the intermission.
Williams immediately cut the lead to 36-32 very early in the second stanza, but Springfield then scored the next seven points -- on a lay-up by McCarthy, a three-pointer by McCarthy, and a lay-up by Finch off a pretty feed from Brosseau. At that point, SC led 43-32 with 14:44 left.
After Williams cut it to eight (45-37) with 12:09 left, Springfield then scored the next eight points over a three-minute span. O'Connor first scored on a lay-up with Walker assisting, and 5-1 freshman guard Lauren Murray (Melrose, Mass.) then hit a short jumper, forcing Williams to call a time-out. Following the short break, Walker hit a 15-footer, and O'Connor gave SC a 16-point lead on a lay-up with 9:04 remaining.
Later, when Walker made the third of her second-half threes with 2:09 left, SC led by 20 (66-46) for its largest lead of the contest. A 15-foot baseline jumper by Finch off a nice feed from Cotter with 33.8 seconds left closed the scoring for the Pride.
Springfield outrebounded Williams, 41-36. The Pride clearly outshot the Ephs for the game, .491 to .281. In the decisive second half, SC outshot Williams, .577 to .267. Also a telling stat, Springfield had 18 assists in its 28 baskets made.
Springfield will next play at Western Connecticut State University one week from tonight -- on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 7:00 pm. Seven of Springfield's first eight games this season will be played on the road. SC's only home game prior to January will be played on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1 pm versus Colby-Sawyer.