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Top-Seeded Babson Bests Women's Basketball, 82-64, To Advance to NEWMAC Title Game

Meghan Biondolillo Box Score

Babson Park, Mass. - February 26, 2011 - The Springfield College women's basketball team's season came to a close on Saturday afternoon after it dropped an 82-64 decision to Babson College in the semifinal round of the 2011 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Women’s Basketball Tournament at Babson’s Staake Gymnasium.

Junior forwards Kathleen King and Nicki Wurdeman combined for 51 points and 23 rebounds to lead the top-seeded Beavers to the victory. With the win, Babson (26-0), ranked fourth in the country by USA Today/ESPN and sixth by D3hoops.com, advanced to Sunday’s championship game at 1 p.m. against Smith College, the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal matchup between the Pioneers and second-seeded WPI. Smith won that semifinal, 57-50.

With the loss, Springfield sees its outstanding late-season run come to a close with a record of 13-14. SC won eight of its last 10 games of the 2010-2011 campaign.

King shot 12-for-23 from the field and 1-for-2 from the line for 25 points to go with 14 rebounds, while Wurdeman hit 10-of-18 from the floor and all four of her foul shots for 26 points while also collecting nine boards. Senior Damisi Adewumi continued her brilliant play of late with her second straight double-double, totaling 10 points and 11 rebounds, and senior captain Amanda Grammel added 10 key points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. The Beavers amassed a huge 48-20 rebound advantage in the victory, including 25 caroms off the offensive glass that resulted in 31 second-chance points.

Springfield was led by the trio of senior Abby Connors, junior Kelly Murphy, and junior Kelly Slattery, who combined for 51 of the team’s 64 points. Connors finished with 18 points while hitting 7-of-12 from the field, including a 4-for-6 clip from long range, Murphy added 17 on 7-of-16 shooting, and Slattery contributed 16 points thanks to a 5-of-10 mark from the floor and a 6-of-7 showing from the free throw line. Sophomore Meghan Biondolillo chipped in with 10 points and a team-high six rebounds for the Pride, and junior Andrea Butler led all players with six assists and three steals.

Babson sprinted out to a 17-10 lead behind six early points from King and five more from Wurdeman, but Springfield answered by hitting a trio of three-pointers during an 11-4 run that tied the game at 21-21 with 10:36 left in the period. Biondolillo knocked down a pair of trifectas during the comeback, while Murphy added another.

The Beavers began to pull away with just under nine minutes left in the first half, embarking on an 18-5 burst to turn a slim 25-24 margin into a commanding 45-31 advantage with 1:14 left in the period. The Pride eventually cut their deficit to 11 at 45-34, but King hit a turnaround baseline jumper at the buzzer to give the hosts a 47-34 cushion at the half. King had 18 of her 25 points in the first half for Babson, while Murphy and Biondolillo each had nine at the break for Springfield.

Connors knocked down a quick three to spark an 8-2 Springfield run to start the second half, as the Pride pulled to within seven at 49-42 just under three minutes in. Wurdeman and King then hit back-to-back buckets to push Babson’s advantage to 11 with 17:17 to go, and it would remain a double-digit lead for the next two minutes.

Trailing by 13 at 58-35, Springfield threatened for the final time with a 5-0 run that cut its deficit to just eight, 58-50, with 14:17 on the clock. However, Wurdeman drained another clutch three-pointer that kicked off a 16-5 burst as Babson extended its lead to 74-55. The junior All-American scored 12 points during the barrage, while Grammel added the other four. The Beavers would eventually go up by as many as 20 on three separate occasions before finishing with an 82-64 win.

Currently one of only three undefeated teams in all of Division III basketball, Babson will look to claim its third straight NEWMAC Championship on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Springfield said its goodbyes to a pair of seniors -- Connors and guard Rachelle Walker.

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Naomi Graves Entering her 23rd season as head coach in 2013-14, Naomi Graves has directed her squads to an impressive 323-261 record (.553 winning percentage). Since joining the Division III ranks in 1995, Graves has led the Pride to 12 post-season bids in the past 18 years, including five berths in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Read more.

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