Babson Park, MA --- Third-seeded Smith College used a defensive effort to claim a 57-50 win over second-seeded WPI in the semifinal round of the 2011 NEWMAC Women's Basketball Tournament at Babson College on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Pioneers (17-9) advance to the conference finals for just the third time in program history and the first time since 1998. Smith will be seeking their first NEWMAC title when they take on top-seeded Babson College at 1 p.m.
With the loss, WPI falls to 18-7 on the season. The Engineers have made the last six conference semifinals and now await a possible bid to next week's ECAC New England Tournament.
Smith sophomore Amanda Zakoske (Jacksonville, FL) shot 6-for-10 from the field for a team-high 15 points, while sophomore captain Lizzy BelBruno (Hanover, NH) added 11 points and six boards while hitting 5-of-8 from the floor. Senior Ashani Petrizzi (Deerfield, MA) chipped in with eight points and seven caroms, first-year Rosa Drummond (Rye, NH) contributed eight points and six boards, and senior Ellie Giles (Charlottesville, VA) pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds in the win. The Pioneers hit 42.9 percent (24-56) of their field goal attempts while holding WPI to just 32.2 percent (19-59) shooting from the floor.
Sophomore Theresa Logan (Southboro, MA) led all players with 20 points for WPI, while senior captain Elle Fontaine (Franklin, MA) turned in a valiant 18-point, nine-rebound performance in the final conference tournament game of her outstanding career. Her current point total is 1,176 and is ninth in the WPI record book. Junior Lauren Hannmann (East Greenbush, NY) added seven points and seven boards, and junior Baillie McNally (Mapleville, RI) dished out a game-high six assists for the Engineers.
The Pioneers led for the majority of the first half, which featured great defensive efforts by both teams. After WPI grabbed its only advantage of the period, 8-6, just over three minutes in, Smith scored nine straight points while holding the Engineers scoreless for more than nine minutes to move in front, 15-8, with 7:48 remaining. WPI finally snapped its scoreless skid with a three-pointer by senior captain Charlotte McDonnell (Swansea, MA) with 7:14 on the clock, but the Pioneers hit back-to-back buckets to go up, 19-11, with five minutes left in the half.
WPI rallied late in the half behind Logan, who rattled off seven straight points to cut her team's deficit to just one with two minutes remaining, 19-18. Smith then responded with consecutive hoops from Drummond and sophomore Devon Quattrocchi (Brewster, NY) to take a 23-18 edge into the break.
After the two teams traded baskets to begin the second half, Fontaine and Logan hit back-to-back threes to spark a 9-0 run that gave WPI its largest lead of the game, 29-25, with 16:36 left. However, Smith took the lead for good with a 17-5 burst over the next six and a half minutes that resulted in a 42-34 Pioneer advantage with 10 minutes left to play.
Trailing by nine with just under four minutes to go, the Engineers made their final push when Fontaine hit a jumper and Hannmann followed with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to four, 48-44, with 2:15 on the clock. Zakoske then took over for the Pioneers, hitting a tough shot in traffic and then converting a fast-break lay-up to push her team's advantage back to eight with 1:31 left. With WPI forced to foul, Quattrocchi hit two free throws and Zakoske knocked down three others in the final 50 seconds as Smith held on for the 57-50 win.
Release Courtesy Babson Sports Information