WORCESTER – Senior Madison Beck (Syracuse, NY) shared game-best honors with 16 points and sophomore Alana Keating (Leominster, MA) tied her career high with 10 points as WPI defeated Emerson 58-47 to earn a share of the NEWMAC Women's Basketball regular season crown Saturday in Harrington Auditorium.
The Engineers (20-5, 13-3) split the title with Babson and Smith for the programs fifth regular season title. WPI won it outright in 1995-1996, 2006-2007 and 2008-2009 while Brandeis, Smith, and Wheaton also had a claim on the 1988-1989 NEW-8 crown. It is the third consecutive 20-plus win season for head coach Cherise Galasso, who owns six of the nine in program history, and the first time it has been done in three straight seasons. The six-game winning streak is the longest of the season and the Crimson and Gray head into the NEWMAC tournament having beat all 10 teams for the second consecutive regular season.
Emerson (11-14 and 8-8) saw its winning streak halted at three.
Senior Stasha Greenalch (Newington, CT) and freshman Maddie Blake (Bedford, NH) each handed in seven points. Beck and senior Maura Buckley (Melrose, MA) each hauled in nine rebounds as Buckley also handed out five assists. Classmate Brianna Dozier (Dedham, MA) led all players with three blocks to go with two blocks and two steals by fellow senior Ama Biney (Worcester, MA).
In addition to the six seniors on the court, four-year manager Kelsey Saucier (Worcester, MA) was recognized before the game for contributions to WPI Athletics and the women's basketball program.
Sophomore Quinn Madden (Mokena, IL) paced Emerson with 16 points followed by junior Charlie Boyle (Scotts Valley, CA) with 14. Madden and junior Natalie Busch (Weybridge, England) each handed out a trio of helpers as Boyle and Busch totaled six rebounds apiece.
Three of the six ties and all three lead changes occurred in the first quarter. Emerson claimed the initial lead; however, back-to-back jumpers by Beck swung the scoreboard in the hosts favor. Madden answered as the Lions regained the lead. Greenalch put the Engineers in front for good, sans the later ties, with 4:38 left in the frame.
The bucket by Greenalch also began a 7-0 run that carried over into the second and gave the Engineers their biggest lead of the first 20 minutes at 15-9. Boyle then bookended a 6-0 spurt to knotted the game at 15. Senior Eastin Ashby (Pittston, PA) and sophomore Natalie Clydesdale (Pittsburgh, PA) leveled the game at 17 and 19, respectively. Buckley countered the latter and Keating added a triple to send the Engineers into the extended break with the 24-19 advantage.
Emerson sliced the margin to a pair midway through the third and early in the fourth. WPI eventually took a double digit lead following a pair of Beck free throws with just under three minutes to play. After sophomore Kate Foultz (Thousand Oaks, CA) canned a 3-pointer on the next possession, the Engineers accounted for five of the six made freebies before time expired.
The second-seeded Engineers will host seventh-seeded Coast Guard (13-12, 7-9) Wednesday at 5:30pm and sixth-seeded Emerson travels to third-seeded Babson (17-8, 13-3) for a 7pm start.
2018 NEWMAC Women's Basketball Championship
Quarterfinal, Wednesday, February 21st (at higher seeds)
No. 5 MIT at No. 4 Springfield – 7:00 p.m.
No. 6 Emerson at No. 3 Babson – 7:00 p.m.
No. 7 Coast Guard at No. 2 WPI – 5:30 p.m.
Semifinals, Saturday, February 24th (at Smith)
Winner of No. 5/No.4 at No. 1 Springfield – 1:00 p.m.
Winner of No. 6/No. 3 vs. Winner of No. 7/No. 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Finals, Sunday, February 25th (at Smith)
Semifinal Winners – 1:00 p.m.