Worcester, MA --- Coast Guard sophomore Meghan Fornaro (Charlton, MA) led all players with 15 points, while junior Dani Knox (Centreville, VA) followed close behind with 14, as the visiting Bears weathered a second half wave from host WPI, retaking the lead with 2:13 to go and holding on for a 56-54 NEWMAC women's basketball victory.
Coast Guard is now 18-6 overall and 13-6 in conference play. With the win, the Bears kept their hopes alive for a share of the NEWMAC regular season title when Wellesley defeated Wheaton 54-52. Coast Guard would share the title with Smith and Wheaton if the Bears defeat Springfield at home on Saturday at 1pm and Smith is defeated the same day at Emerson.
WPI falls to 10-14 on the season and 8-11 in NEWMAC action and are tied with MIT (a 57-56 winner at Babson) for the seventh and final NEWMAC Tournament spot. The two teams meet Saturday at 3pm in Cambridge in a winner-take-all contest.
Fornaro and Knox each had nine rebounds and three assists, while Torie Sutherland (Houston, TX) added 11 points and six rebounds, hitting three 3-pointers, including the game winner to make it 54-51 down the closing stretch.
WPI trailed Coast Guard by 10 points at the break, 34-24, but started the second half on a 14-0 run to gain control, 39-34, with 14:05 left.
Kelly Morgan (Brookline, NH) hit a 3 and two free throws to pull the hosts within one, followed by consecutive hoops from Jessica Larsen (San Diego, CA).
It was fitting for Dani Davis (East Granby, CT) to cap the rally, as the junior also led WPI all around with 10 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. It was the first double-double of the season for the junior and fourth of her career
The Engineers held their second half lead for 6:50, going up by as many as six, 43-37, on a tricky layup by Larsen (8 points), before the Bears rallied back.
Fornaro got to the rim three times in the preceding four minutes, but it was Sutherland's 3-pointer with 7:38 remaining that made it 50-49 Coast Guard.
After 4:26 of scoreless action on both sides, Davis sent WPI back in front one more time, 51-50, with 3:12 left, before Sutherland struck with a second dagger.
The Engineers led for the opening 14 minutes, going up by as many as nine, 17-8, on a Tess Nogueira (Merrimac, MA) free throw just over eight minutes in, but the visitors outscored WPI, 26-7, over the rest of the opening 20 minutes.
Six WPI players scored during the hosts' quick start, with 3-point plays by Siena Mamayek (Melrose, MA) and Davis, and a 3 from Haili Welton (Southbury, CT).
Mamayek and Morgan were both playing in their last regular season home game as both finished with seven points.
Coast Guard rallied back from its early deficit with nine straight points, pulling it to 17-16 on an Alexi Howland (Latham, NY) trey with 8:10 left in the first half.
Amaia Gritsko (Milford, CT) (10 points) and Mamayek had back-to-back layups to put the home side back up five, 21-16, before Coast Guard scored 18 of the final 21 points in the first half over the last 6:30.
That stretch included five points each from Fornaro and Brittney Zimmerman (Lewiston, PA), with 3-pointers from both as the Bears jumped to a 34-24 lead at the intermission.
Release by Carl Setterlund - WPI Athletics Intern - Emerson '14