Northampton, MA --- MIT junior Kara Holinski (Livonia, MI) was named Most Outstanding Player as the Engineers defeated WPI, 54-50, in the NEWMAC Women's Basketball Championship game Sunday on Senda Berenson Court in Smith's Ainsworth Gym.
Fifth-seeded MIT (18-9) earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament while second-seeded WPI, who was on an eight-game winning streak and No. 9 in the NCAA Regional Rankings, awaits a potential at-large berth. Top-seeded Smith was two spots ahead of the Crimson and Gray on the regional list.
Junior Kristen Ngan (Sudbury, MA) paced MIT with 14 points while classmate Taylor V'Dovec (Blaine, WA) narrowly missed a double-double with 14 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Jocelyn Luizzi (Colchester, CT) also hauled in eight boards for Cambridge's Engineers.
A tight first quarter featured four ties with the last occurring at 13 with 3:18 on the clock. MIT used a Holinski layup and a jumper by junior Dolly Yuan (San Jose, CA) right before time expired to take a small lead.
V'Dovec knocked down a jumper 36 seconds into second quarter, increasing MIT's margin to 19-13. WPI came within one point on three occasions, the last at 25-24 with 2:44 on the clock thanks to a jumper by senior Maura Buckley (Melrose, MA). After an exchange of possessions, a put-back by V'Dovec with 20 seconds left gave MIT a 27-24 edge at halftime.
A fastbreak layup by WPI led to a string of seven unanswered points and a 31-27 advantage at the 6:14 mark of the third quarter. A pair of Holinski free throws ended MIT's scoring drought with 2:50 on the clock while Ngan buried a three-pointer to quickly put MIT back in front. WPI knotted the score at 32 with a Greenalch free throw, however, Ngan drained both of her free-throw attempts to create some distance heading into the final frame.
Luizzi hit a jumper 19 seconds into the fourth quarter, setting off an exchange of baskets until Yuan's free throw gave MIT a 45-40 lead with 4:38 remaining. After a WPI layup, Ngan knocked down a three-pointer and then a layup with 2:13 to go. WPI responded with its own trey and layup, trimming its deficit to 50-47 with 25 seconds left to play. MIT then capitalized on free throws by Holinski and Luizzi to create a seven-point cushion which withstood a Greenalch trey with three seconds left.
It potentially marks the end of a successful four years on the court for Beck, Ama Biney (Worcester, MA), Buckley, Brianna Dozier (Dedham, MA), Greenalch, and Brittney Lambert (Hudson, NH). Biney and Lambert will continue to keep the NEWMAC on its toes with softball and outdoor track & field on the horizon.
Portions of Release Courtesy MIT