With the win, the Pride clinched a home playoff game in the upcoming NEWMAC Tournament and can be seeded no lower than third. Springfield moves to 14-9 overall, 9-3 in league play, while the Pioneers drop to 4-18, 2-10.
On the first possession of the second half, Cotter buried a 19-footer from the right corner for her 1,000th point (see photo below for her historic shot). For the game, the senior guard finished with eight points. She is now tied for the 11th spot in Springfield College scoring annals with 1,002 points -- tied with Jen Crawford (1982-85).
Springfield wasted no time jumping all over the visitors as it raced out to an 11-3 lead after a Liz Brosseau (Franklin, Mass.) foul-line jumper at the 16:05 mark. The Pioneers responded with a gritty effort, going on an 11-4 run to cut the lead to one, 15-14, after a three-pointer from Ashley Sutton with 13:01 remaining in the opening half. The game stayed close until the Pride used an 8-0 burst fueled by a pair of buckets from Lauren O’Connor (Valhalla, N.Y.) to open up a 10-point lead, 30-20, with 5:27 left on the clock. A late jumper from Sutton with under a minute remaining made the score 38-32 heading into the half.
In an unusual start to the second half, the Pride opened up on a 19-1 run over the first 9:46 to grab complete control of the game, leading 57-33 after a pair of free throws by KK Salmonsen (Beverly, Mass.). The Pride went on to lead by as many as 30 after a deep triple by Rachelle Walker (Lee, Mass.) with 3:12 left in the game.
Springfield dominated the paint, outscoring the visitors, 38-18. A balanced Pride offensive attack was led by senior Tara McCarthy’s (Bristol, R.I.) game-high 13 points as she also added five assists. O’Connor was unstoppable down low, tallying 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds. Brosseau added 12 points and eight boards, while Walker chipped in with 10 points and a career-high seven assists. Springfield shot 51.7% for the game, including nailing 58.6% of its shots in the opening stanza. O'Connor, in her last seven games, has shot an incredible 74.5% from the floor (35-of-47). In her last five games, it's even better -- 77.8% (21-of-27).
Sutton finished with a team-best nine points for Smith, while Laura Miller added eight points and eight rebounds.
Springfield wraps up its regular season on Saturday when it travels south to take on Coast Guard for a 1:00 pm tip off.
Cotter and classmate McCarthy were both honored before the game in a “Senior Night” ceremony to commemorate their outstanding careers at Springfield.