WORCESTER -- Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) put on a clinic in the fourth quarter, grabbing two clutch rebounds, muscling the ball away from a Smith scorer and netting the game-clinching free throw in the waning seconds to secure an all too close 52-50 win for WPI in a key NEWMAC Women's Basketball showdown with the Pioneers Wednesday night in Harrington Auditorium. The Engineers and Smith are now deadlocked at 15-5 on the season and 8-3 in conference play.
The Pioneers made sure this would not be a runaway, taking advantage of the lack of two home starters early in the fourth to draw the game within one point with five minutes remaining in the game. Meghan Holland (Atherton, CA) connected on her third and fourth 3-pointers in Smith's charge, reaching 11 points on the night. Unphased, the Engineers held their lead with Crimson and Gray pride, pushing back up to a five point lead. The game seemed to be in the Engineers laps before a Paige Marquez (San Francisco, CA) trifecta, and a late technical foul, brought the game to its nail-biting finish.
The first quarter showcased the Engineers exceptional accuracy from the long range, scoring on five of their eight three point tries and taking an early 10 point lead halfway through the quarter. Brittney Lambert (Hudson, NH) started the Engineers off right, scoring eight total points in the frame and notching two of her team's attempts from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Smith guard Lauren Bondi (Burnbay, BC) put on a scoring bonanza, nailing every shot she took and tallying more than half of her team's points after the first quarter of play. But, aside from Bondi, the Engineers defense kept Smith quiet and closed the first quarter with a 21-13 lead.
As play commenced in the second, the Pioneers cut into their deficit quickly, scoring the first six points of the quarter while the Engineers cooled down. From there it was a back and forth ballgame. But, after a Holland trifecta, the Pioneers took a two point lead for the first time in the game. Smith held a 14-2 advantage in the paint over the course of the first half that helped them push past the Engineers after the early Crimson and Gray lead.
After their second quarter struggles, WPI came out of the break strong. They struck first and took the lead back with Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) and her athleticism, scoring a basket, collecting a steal and scoring again all in 21 seconds. The Engineers were back on top as they pushed their lead up to 10 again. Stasha Greenalch (Newington, CT) had an exceptional third quarter defensively, drawing a pair of charges from the Pioneers' scorers and collecting two steals. However, the Boynton Hillers were hamstrung with a pair of key players in foul trouble. Regardless, it was all Crimson and Gray in the third as they outscored Smith 18-8 in the quarter and took back a nine point lead going into the fourth.
Biney led all scorers with 15 total points, also nabbing a trio of steals and collecting seven caroms in the win. Greenalch grabbed a game-high four steals and tallied a block while she dished out a pair of assists and just missed double figures in scoring with nine on the night. Lambert contributed for the Engineers with eight points and two assists and Alana Keating (Leominster, MA) chipped in with six points. Maura Buckley (Melrose, MA) stood tall in the paint, gobbling up a game high nine boards and blocking a pair of shots to secure the Engineers the win.
Bondi led the Pioneers as she came away with 13 points, one assist, and one steal and collected four off the glass in the effort. Holland followed with 11 points and three rebounds. Kennedy Guest-Pritchett (Fairburn, GA) and Marquez each scored nine points and grabbed seven and five rebounds apiece while Guest-Pritchett laid down the lone block for Smith. Amanda Barriscale (Mill Valley, CA) dominated off the backboard for the visitors, reaching for, team high, eight rebounds and chipping in with five points and a steal.
Next up, WPI hosts the battle of the brains against MIT at 3:00 and Smith hosts Emerson at 2:00 this upcoming Saturday.
Majority of recap written by WPI student assistant Ranier Gran '18