Babson Park, MA --- The WPI women's basketball team used a stifling defense that limited Coast Guard to single digit scoring in the first three quarters as the second-seeded Engineers defeated the third-seed Bears 48-32 in a NEWMAC Tournament semifinal contest played at Babson on Saturday evening.
WPI improves to 23-4 on the season and will play top seed and host Babson Sunday afternoon at 3pm for the tournament championship and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. It will mark the third appearance in a NEWMAC title game for the Engineers and sixth conference title matchup overall. The Crimson and Gray won their only postseason conference tournament 20 years ago in 1996 when they captured the NEW-8 crown.
The victory also marked the 250th victory at WPI for 16-year head coach Cherise Galasso.
Coast Guard sees its season come to an end with a 16-11 record.
WPI held the Bears to 3-of-15 from the field in the first quarter and Engineers scored the final nine points of the quarter for a 17-7 lead after one.
Junior Sarah Rogers' (Colchester, CT) 3-pointer capped a 12-0 run with 9:47 left in the first half giving the Engineers a 20-7 lead. The Bears continued to struggle from the floor missing their first six field goal attempts in the second quarter before a hoop by Gerton made the score 20-9. Meghan Fornaro (Charlton, MA) scored a basket to make the score 26-13 with 5:02 left in the half. Both teams went cold the rest of the half as WPI scored the final four points for a 30-13 lead at the break.
The Bears were just 6 of 31 in the first half (19.4 percent) hitting 1 of 10 from behind the arc while WPI was 9 of 27 (33.3 percent) and 3 of 9 from 3-point range at halftime.
Both teams were cold to start the second half as Coast Guard made just one of its first eight shots and the Engineers were just 1 for their first 11 as each team managed just one basket in the first 6:58 of the third quarter and each team managed just six points as WPI led 36-19 after the third quarter.
Sophomore Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) was a point short of her first career double-double. The sophomore led WPI with nine points and ten rebounds, all defensive and also tallied a game-high assists to go along with a pair of blocks and a steal. Rogers equaled her career-best with eight points while Priscilla Dunphy (Barrington, RI) added seven and Yasmeen Luna (North Providence, RI) and Jessica Larsen (Poway, CA) chipped in with six apiece.
Sophomore Gill Gerton (Lorton, VA) led the Bears with 13 points and nine rebounds while classmate Jill Bray (Glastonbury, CT) finished with eight points and six rebounds. The duo combined to shoot 8-for-23 from the floor while the rest of team was just 2-of-36 in the loss as the Bears were 10-of-59 (16.9%) from the field while making just 2-of-18 (11.1%) from behind the arc.
The game marked the final game in the careers of seniors Fornaro and Torie Sutherland (Houston, TX), who leave with a record 64 wins in their four years. Fornaro leaves with 1,469 career points, third all-time while Sutherland had 1,154 points which ranks fifth all-time at the Academy.
Portions of game release courtesy Coast Guard Sports Information