Springfield, Mass. -- February 24, 2010 -- Two free throws by Malia Maier with 28 seconds left proved to be the difference as the Wellesley College women's basketball team upset Springfield College, 58-57, in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal game tonight at SC's Blake Arena. With the win, Wellesley, the #6-seed, advances to the NEWMAC semis at Babson Saturday at 3 pm. The Blue raise their record to 8-15 while Springfield, the #3 seed, finishes its season at 15-11.
Wellesley will play either #2-seed WPI or #7 seed Mount Holyoke in the semis on Saturday.
The Blue were led by freshman Ashleigh Sargent (Bedford, N.H.) with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Freshman Becca Kimball (Weston, Mass.) followed with 12 points. The only other double-figure scorer for Wellesley was sophomore KD Stearns (Eustis, Fla.) with 10 points. Maier, a freshman from Torrance, Calif., added nine points, including the crucial two free throws with 28 seconds remaining following an offensive rebound off her own missed lay-up.
For Springfield, freshman guard Meghan Biondolillo (Levittown, N.Y.) led with 16 points, followed by sophomore forward Kelly Slattery (Somers, Conn.) with 11. Sophomore guard Kelly Murphy (Mechanicville, N.Y.) and junior center Amelia Sapowsky (Ware, Mass.) each had eight points, with Sapowsky pulling down a team-high seven rebounds.
Following the two free throws by Maier, with the shot clock off, Springfield called a pair of timeouts, one with 23 seconds left, and then again with seven seconds left. Freshman guard Colleen Dignum (Albany, N.Y.) then found the ball in her hands and took a long two-pointer with five seconds to go. The ball caromed off the rim towards the right sideline, and went out of bounds with 0.3 seconds left, Wellesley's ball. The Blue inbounded the ball to the front court, and as soon as the ball was touched, the game was over, sparking a celebration for the Blue.
Just four days ago, Springfield had beaten Wellesley, 77-61, in Wellesley. In fact, SC had beaten the Blue twice this year, also winning 63-53, in Blake Arena on January 9.
Wellesley controlled this game for the vast majority of the time. Springfield had taken an 8-4 lead with 14:43 to go on a 3-pointer by junior guard Abby Connors (Douglas, Mass.). But Wellesley then scored the next 11 points, taking a 15-8 lead with 10:37 left on a jumper by Stearns. With 5:27 left, that lead had grown to 14 at 26-12, Wellesley's largest of the half, on a 3-pointer by senior Laura Barrett (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.). At the half, Wellesley led, 37-26.
In the second half, Wellesley was maintaining its poise, and took its largest lead of the game with 13:29 left on a lay-up by Kimball. At that point, it was 47-32, Wellesley. But this is where Springfield started the long march back. A 16-3 run by SC tied it at 50-all with 6:11 to go, the tying bucket coming on a lay-up by Biondolillo. From this point on, no one led by more than two points.
With 4:42 left, two free throws by Sargent gave the Blue a one-point lead at 54-53. Murphy then made two free throws with 3:13 left to give SC a one-point margin at 55-54. Stearns made a jumper with 2:17 left, but Sapowsky countered that with a short jumper with 1:03 to go. That set up the two free throws by Maier with 28 seconds left.
Wellesley shot .408 for the game (20-of-49), while Springfield shot .375 (21-of-56). Wellesley outrebounded SC, 39-34.