Worcester, Mass. - January 24, 2009 - Despite a 21-point performance from Corey Finch, the Springfield College women's basketball team dropped its first New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) game of the season as it fell 72-66 in overtime at WPI on Saturday afternoon.
For WPI, Serena Dubois poured in a career-high 29 points and Elle Fontaine forced overtime with a pair of 3-pointers in the final 24 seconds to help propel WPI to the thrilling overtime victory in a battle of teams with undefeated NEWMAC records.
WPI, winners of eight straight, improves to 13-4 overall and 6-0 in conference play. Springfield falls to 9-8 on the season and 4-1 in NEWMAC action.
WPI led for much of a close first half, taking a 29-26 advantage into the locker room. Springfield was able to take the lead early in the second half and with it, control of the game. As the second half wore on, the Pride gradually extended their lead to double digits. A three-pointer by Rachelle Walker with 3:02 to go in the game pushed the Springfield lead to 12 at 58-46, appearing to end the Engineers’ hopes of staying undefeated in NEWMAC play.
The Crimson and Gray didn’t quit however, fighting back to within 58-52 on the heels of back-to-back threes from Fontaine and Caitlin Macko. A layup from Dubois followed to cut the Pride advantage to four with under a minute to play in the game. A pair of free throws from Finch boosted Springfield’s lead to six with 37 seconds to go. With their backs against the wall, the Engineers once again clawed their way back. Fontaine hit back-to-back threes, the second coming with only 5.2 seconds to go in the game, forcing overtime and sending the WPI faithful into a frenzy.
WPI rode the momentum from its comeback into overtime, scoring the first eight points and forcing Springfield to make a comeback bid of their own. A pair of baskets by Dubois, a hoop by Melissa Kuhn, and clutch free throw shooting by Kaileen Selen helped keep the Pride at bay, holding on to a hard-fought six point victory.
Dubois added 11 rebounds en route to tallying her seventh double-double of the season and 12th of her career. Her 29 points were the most from a WPI player since Emily Allietta registered 30 in the Engineers’ only other win ever against Springfield on January 6th, 2007. Fontaine pitched in with 17 points, 15 of which came after the break after shaking off a 1-for-6 start from the floor. Selen was also in double figures with 10 points. Point guard Natasha Deschene had six points and five assists to go along with a career-high equaling 10 rebounds
Finch topped the scoring sheet for the Pride with 21 points. Lauren O’Connor registered 12 points and nine rebounds. Walker added eight points, all coming in the second half in which Springfield shot an efficient 53.8% from the floor and 4-for-6 from behind the arc. Liz Brosseau and Kelly Murphy each chipped in with seven for the Pride, who dropped into a tie for second in the conference with Wheaton.
Both teams are back in action this Wednesday. WPI heads east to take on Babson at 7:00pm. Springfield returns home to face Clark at 5:30pm.