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Big Second Half Leads Women's Basketball Past Skidmore, 73-51, in Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic; Messiah Captures the Crown Over Salve Regina, 63-57

Kelly Murphy Box Score

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- January 3, 2009 --Corey Finch scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Springfield College women's basketball team to a 73-51 victory over Skidmore College this afternoon in the consolation game of the Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic at James Naismith Court in Blake Arena. In the championship game, Messiah College captured the title with a 63-57 victory over a scrappy Salve Regina team (see details below).

With the win, Springfield raised its record to 5-6, while Skidmore fell to 3-6.

Finch, a senior forward from Hanover, Pa., also had 3 assists for the Pride. Six of her 10 rebounds were on the offensive side. Two others also scored in double figures for Springfield. They were sophomore guard Rachelle Walker (Lee, Mass.) with 16 points (4-of-10 from 3-point range), and freshman guard Kelly Murphy (Mechanicville, N.Y.) with 12. Finch and Murphy were named to the All-Tourney team for the Pride.

Senior center Lauren O'Connor (Valhalla, N.Y.) scored nine points in this afternoon's contest, falling one point shy of the coveted 1000-point plateau for her career. She will have the opportunity to become Springfield College's 13th 1000-point scorer when the Pride hosts Wellesley in its NEWMAC opener Wednesday at home at 7 pm.

For Skidmore, junior guard Sharlyn Harper (New York, N.Y.) came off the bench for the second straight game to lead the Thoroughbreds with 13 points. She also had 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Freshman guard Megan Gaugler (Amsterdam, N.Y.) scored 9 points, going 4-for-8 from the field for Skidmore.

It was a game of spurts. Springfield jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead in the first 3:14. Finch and Walker each scored five points, including one 3-pointer each in that run. But when Gaugler made a lay-up with 9:30 to go, Skidmore took its first lead of the game at 17-16. The Thoroughbreds then kept right on going, taking a 32-22 lead with 2:38 to go on a 3-pointer by junior guard Amber Kinsey (Troy, N.Y.). The Pride then came back with a mini 7-0 run to end the half. That included a 3-pointer by Walker with 17 seconds left in the half, making it Skidmore 32, Springfield 29 at the intermission.

Springfield then retook the lead at 35-34 when Murphy hit a 3-pointer with 17:49 left in the game. When sophomore forward Megan Macarthur (Baiting Hollow, N.Y.) made a jumper with 14:30 left, Springfield led 43-34. SC had outscored Skidmore, 19-2, in a span of 6:49 surrounding halftime.

With 4:30 to go, after Skidmore junior forward Dana Leonard (Cooperstown, N.Y.) made two free throws, the Thoroughbreds were still within nine points at 58-49. But Springfield capitalized from the free throw line down the stretch, outscoring the Thoroughbreds, 15-2, to end the game.

Springfield out-rebounded Skidmore, 54-24, led by freshman forward Cherelle Allen (New Britain, Conn.) with her game-high 16 boards. O'Connor added 7 rebounds. In the big second-half, where SC outscored Skidmore, 44-19, Springfield shot .520 from the floor (13-of-25), while Skidmore shot .231 (6-of-26). For the game, Springfield shot .406 (26-of-64), while Skidmore shot .333 (18-of-54).

HOLIDAY INN/NAISMITH CLASSIC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME -- MESSIAH 63, SALVE REGINA 57

Messiah/Salve Regina Box Score

Julie Henninger, the Tourney MVP, scored 16 points and added 6 rebounds to lead her Messiah women's basketball team to an exciting 63-57 victory over a scrappy Salve Regina team in the championship game of the Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic at Springfield College's James Naismith Court in Blake Arena.

Henninger, a junior guard from Carlisle, Pa., was one of three players from Messiah who scored in double figures. The others were senior forward Silalei Shani (Dakar, Senegal) with 14 points and 8 rebounds, and senior guard Christa Wenrich (Hummelstown, Pa.) with 11 points and 2 assists. Senior guard Katie Kalb (Holmdel, N.J.) also added 9 points, 2 assists, and 4 steals. While Henninger was named Tourney MVP, Wenrich was also named to the All-Tournament team.

For Salve Regina, which defeated host Springfield College yesterday (50-46) in a first round game, they also had two double-figure scorers who made the All-Tournament team. They were sophomore forward Erin Phillips (Morristown, N.J.) with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals. Senior guard Allegra Lovoy (Charlestown, R.I.) scored 16 points, and added 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Messiah out-rebounded Salve Regina, 36-30. Shooting percentages were very similar in all three categories. From the floor, Messiah shot .444 (24-of-54), while Salve shot .429 (24-of-56). From 3-point range, Salve shot .200 (2-of-10), while Messiah shot .182 (2-of-11). From the free throw line, Messiah shot .700 (7-of-10), while Salve shot .684 (13-of-19).

This was a game of many lead changes and ties. The lead changed hands 10 times, while there were seven ties all told.

Messiah had small leads throughout most of the first half, and was up 25-20 with 5:29 left when Henninger made a lay-up. But Salve Regina then scored 13 straight points to take a 33-25 advantage with 1:32 left. At the half, Messiah managed to shave that lead in half, Salve enjoying a 33-29 edge.

In the second half, neither team led by more than five points, until the very end. It was nip-and-tuck the entire way. The largest lead, until the closing seconds, was a 5-point edge by Messiah at 50-45 with 11:09 left, again on a lay-up by Henninger.

Salve led by one at 57-56 with 2:52 left on a jumper by Phillips. But when Kalb hit a 3-pointer with 2:27 left, Messiah took the lead for good at 59-57. Wenrich then hit two free throws with 32 seconds remaining, giving the Falcons a 4-point lead at 61-57. Shani ended the scoring with two more free throws with just three seconds left, salting it away.

The 2009 Holiday Inn/Naismith Classic All-Tournament Team
Julie Henninger -- Messiah (MVP)
Christa Wenrich -- Messiah
Erin Phillips -- Salve Regina
Allegra Lovoy -- Salve Regina
Corey Finch -- Springfield
Kelly Murphy -- Springfield

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