Northampton, MA --- The Smith Pioneers rallied to defeat the Engineers of WPI, 45-40 on Senior Night Wednesday at Ainsworth Gymnasium.
A jumper by senior Dani Davis (East Granby, CT) opened the scoring, as WPI (15-9, 8-7 NEWMAC) jumped out in front of Smith (9-15, 5-10 NEWMAC) early. The Engineers took a six point lead (13-7) on a layup by sophomore Tess Nogueira (Merrimac, MA) with 11:30 remaining in the first half, but the Pioneers countered with an 11-4 spurt. First-year Tavorsia Talley (New Hope, PA) and sophomore Mandy Castro (San Diego, CA) each scored four points during the run, giving Smith their first lead of the contest, 18-17 with 4:04 remaining in the first half.
WPI went ahead on their next possession, as first-year Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) went coast-to-coast to give the Engineers a 19-18 lead at the half.
Biney scored three more of her team-high 11 points to start the second half and give the Engineers a 22-18 advantage. WPI opened a nine-point lead at the 10:24 mark on another layup by Biney that put the Engineers up 31-22.
Once again, the Pioneers quickly chipped away at the Engineer advantage, closing the gap to 31-28 with a pair of threes, one by senior Alyssa Barrett (Berlin, CT) and another by Castro with 8:24 remaining in regulation. A Biney layup extended WPI's lead to five, but a three from the top of the key by Smith first-year Samantha Alakai (Honolulu, HI) put the Pioneers in front, 35-33, for the first time in the second half.
Nogueria and WPI first-year Stasha Greenalch (Newington, CT) scored on consecutive possessions to give the Engineers their final lead of the contest, 37-35 with 2:15 to play.
The Pioneers went on a 6-0 run to take a 41-37 on a pair of free throws by Alakai with 32 seconds to play, but Davis knocked down an open three to cut Smith's lead to one, 41-40, with 19 seconds remaining in regulation.
WPI immediately fouled on the inbounds, and Smith first-year Meghan Holland (Atherton, CA) calmly sank a pair of free throws to give Smith a three point advantage (43-40). WPI had one more chance, but their three rimmed out and Holland sank two more free throws to keep Smith's New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) playoff hopes alive and give the Pioneer seniors a win in their final home game at Ainsworth Gym.
Senior co-captain Lauren Weston (Florence, MA) grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds, falling just shy of her first career double-double, adding eight points. Holland scored a team-high nine points while Alakai chipped in eight points, three rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Biney scored a game-high 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Davis chipped in seven points and five boards, while Nogueria added six points, three rebounds and two steals.
Prior to the contest, Smith celebrated senior night by honoring their two senior captains, Lauren Weston (Florence, MA) and Barrett for their four years of service, leadership, and dedication to the Smith basketball program.
The Pioneers will be riding a two-game winning streak as they travel to Wellesley on Saturday at 2 p.m. while the Engineers travel to Mount Holyoke on Saturday for a 2pm tipoff.
Release Courtesy Smith Sports Information