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Women's Basketball Captures 2012 Hampton Inn/Naismith Classic Championship

Springfield/Skidmore Box Score

Championship Game -- Springfield 58, Skidmore 52

Springfield, Mass. - January 2, 2012 - Led by Most Valuable Player Meghan Biondolillo, the Springfield College women's basketball team grinded out a 58-52 win over Skidmore to claim the Hampton Inn-West Springfield/Naismith Classic Championship on Monday afternoon. It was the first time in nine years that the Springfield women captured its own Naismith Classic.

Springfield raised its record to 6-5 overall, while Skidmore tasted defeat only for the second time in eight games.

The last time Springfield won its own Classic came on January 4-5, 2003 when the home team defeated Southern Maine, 56-51 in that season's championship game.

Biondolillo made significant contributions in each victory of this two-day tournament, making perhaps more of a contribution in last night's 71-45 victory over Roger Williams University with her career-high 27 points. Tonight, the junior sharpshooter scored 12 points, adding three assists and two rebounds. She went 4-for-9 from three-point range on the day.

In the win over Skidmore, freshman Jaimie Bickelhaupt led her Pride squad with a career-high 21 points, adding nine rebounds and five blocks. She was 7-of-12 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the foul line -- all of which came in the clutch in the final 44 seconds.

Also tonight, Kelly Slattery came through with nine points, seven rebounds, five assists, one block, and one steal.

For the Thoroughbreds, many players contributed in many ways. The only double-figure scorer was Megan Gaugler with 13 points and three rebounds. Jessie Kavana and Jordyn Wartts each had nine points. Angela Botiba contributed six points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

Biondolillo and Bickelhaupt for Springfield, and Gaugler and Botiba for Skidmore each made the all-tournament team.

Biondolillo continued her hot shooting from the previous night as she pumped home a pair of threes in the Pride’s 10-0 burst to start the game. The Thoroughbreds answered back with a 10-3 spurt of their own as a Botiba putback on the offensive end brought the visitors within three with 13:50 to play. Springfield pushed its lead back to eight on a pair of occasions, the last coming on a Bickelhaupt jumper with 6:46 to go in the half, making the score 26-18.

Skidmore would tally seven-straight points to get within one after Wartts canned a three from the corner at the 3:42 mark. Another Bickelhaupt jumper in the paint with 1:52 left provided the Pride with a 28-25 lead which it carried into the half.

After extending SC's lead to five on a Slattery bucket with 13:43 to play, Skidmore rallied to tie the contest for the first time on a Lindsay Davis trifecta at the 10:57 mark. The Pride regained a three-point lead on a Bickelhaupt bucket, but Skidmore used a basket from Kavana on a back-door cut to take its first lead of the game at 43-42 with 5:50 left. It was destined to be Skidmore's only lead of the contest.

Biondolillo answered right back with a deep three to give the Pride a lead it would not relinquish. Bickelhaupt tallied nine of SC's final 13 points in the last 4:12 of the game, with Slattery scoring the other four.

Springfield will next host Wheaton in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference game on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 5:30 pm in Blake Arena.

2012 Hampton Inn/Naismith Classic

The 2012 women's division of the Hampton Inn-West Springfield/Naismith Classic all-tournament team:
Meghan Biondolillo -- Springfield (MVP)
Jaimie Bickelhaupt -- Springfield
Angela Botiba -- Skidmore
Megan Gaugler -- Skidmore
Stephanie Slonski -- Western Connecticut
Alexandria Lanieri -- Roger Williams

Consolation Game -- Western Connecticut State 54, Roger Williams 39

Western Conn./Roger Williams Box Score

Springfield, Mass. - January 2, 2012 - The Western Connecticut State University women's basketball team toppled Roger Williams University, 54-39, in the consolation game of the Hampton Inn-West Springfield/Naismith Classic on Monday afternoon at Springfield College's Blake Arena.

The loss drops the Hawks to 4-5 on the season, while the Colonials improve to 8-3.

Leading the way for WCSU was Taylor Nkonoki, who tallied 14 points while connecting on all four of her three-point attempts. Stephanie Slonski added 10 points, while Sciarra Brandt posted seven rebounds, six points, four assists, three blocks, and two steals.

Alexandria Lanieri scored over half of the Hawks points on the day, producing 20 points while pulling down 11 rebounds. She finished by making 10-of-19 field goals. Kaitlyn Bovee chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds.

Slonski for WCSU and Lanieri for Roger Williams were chosen to represent their teams on the all-tournament team.

The opening half featured six lead changes as both teams traded baskets to start the game. Following a Lanieri jumper in the paint, which cut the Colonials lead to 17-15, Western Connecticut answered with a 7-0 burst capped off by a straightaway three-pointer from Slonski. Pace of play in the first 20 minutes was dictated by sloppy play on both ends, as the squads combined for 26 turnovers.

The Hawks opened up the second half with the first five points to get within two, only to have the Colonials score five-straight points of their own to regain a seven-point cushion at 29-22. After a three-point play by RWU's Amanda Keane with 15:44 to go made it a 29-25 ball game, Western Connecticut opened up a 12-0 run spanning nearly eight minutes to take a 43-27 lead. The 16-point margin was WCSU's largest lead of the game.

The Hawks finally broke their scoreless drought and netted six unanswered points after another Lanieri bucket inside made it 43-33. That would be as close as they would get in the contest as Roger Williams was marred with turnovers throughout, finishing the game with 31. Some 25 of WCSU's points were scored off turnovers.

RWU won the battle of the boards, 39-36. A total of 17 of the Colonials' 36 rebounds were off the offensive glass.

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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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