WORCESTER – Junior Giovanna Pickering (Hull, MA), senior Linnett Graber (Roseland, NJ) and senior Marissa Cicchetti (Mansfield, MA) combined for 34 points as visiting Babson handed the WPI women's basketball team its first NEWMAC setback of the season with a 62-51 victory Wednesday night in Harrington Auditorium.
The Beavers (17-5, 13-1 NEWMAC) extend their winning-streak to nine games while halting the Engineers (20-2, 12-1 NEWMAC) program-best streak at 18. In addition to receiving votes in the D3hoops.com Top 25 and USA Today Division III polls, WPI entered the contest 11th in the initial NCAA Division III Regional Rankings.
The Engineers held a 9-7 lead with 4:34 remaining in the opening frame. From there, the remainder of the period belonged to Babson. Four different Beavers connected from the field, including a traditional three-point play and a trio of defensive rebounds by sophomore Brenna LeGacy (Attleboro, MA), during a key 9-3 run to close out the first.
Nearly two minutes into the second, senior Yasmeen Luna (North Providence, RI) drained a jumper for the first Engineer field goal in seven-plus minutes of action. Sophomore Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) followed it up with a jumper of her own to level the game at 16-16 with 7:40 remaining until the half.
Fueled by four points from Pickering, Babson forged a 9-0 run with 4:32 until the break. After LeGacy's bucket at 1:26 gave Babson an 11-point cushion, senior Haili Welton (Southbury, CT) responded with a triple at the top of the key to bring the game within single digits.
Babson increased its lead to 14 twice in the early stages of the third. Junior Sarah Rogers' (Colchester, CT) jumper combined with a Biney cut the Engineers deficit to nine with 2:14 on the scoreboard.
The teams traded buckets to open the fourth before Babson built a 17-point lead following an 8-0 spurt, highlighted by a quartet by Pickering, with 6:56 left in the contest. Luna accounted for a pair of field goals as the Engineers climbed back under 10 with a 9-0 outburst. Junior Priscilla Dunphy (Barrington, RI) capped the rally with a pair of freebies to make it an eight-point game. She later hit a three as WPI pulled within seven with just over a minute to play but the Beavers went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final minute to fend off the hosts.
Biney paced all players with 14 points to go with five rebounds, two assists and a block. Dunphy added 11 points and a team-best seven boards. Luna pitched in with eight points as Welton (six rebounds) and sophomore Madison Beck (Syracuse, NY) added five each.
Pickering led the Babson trio with 12 points as Graber and Cicchetti each ended the night with 11. Reigning NEWMAC Player of the Week senior Kristen Ferola (Amherst, MA) hauled in a game-high eight boards followed by Graber with seven and Pickering with six. Pickering also handed out a game-best four assists while Ferola was credited with three.
Babson controlled points in the paint (20-10), second chance points (11-4) and bench points (20-16) while scoring all four of the contests fast break points. WPI had a slight 10-9 edge in points off turnovers. The Beavers shot 38.7 percent from the field compared to the Engineers 31.6.
WPI travels to Wheaton for a 3pm NEWMAC game on Saturday. Babson steps out of conference play and hosts Bates Friday at 7pm.