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Rensselaer, Tufts Win First-Round Games in Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic

Andrea Butler RPI/Springfield Box Score

Springfield, Mass. -- January 2, 2011 -- Linda Larsen scored 17 points to lead the Rensselaer women's basketball team to a 59-56 opening game victory over Springfield College in tonight's Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic. For the Pride, Kelly Slattery finished with a game-high 21 points.

With the win, RPI raises its record to 4-6, while Springfield falls to 3-7.

RPI came from far back to win this game. The Engineers trailed 33-22 at the half. They outscored the Pride, 37-23, in the second stanza.

Larsen, a senior guard from Kobenhavn, Denmark, scored nine of her 17 points in the first half. Larsen was 9-of-12 from the free throw line. Behind her for RPI was junior guard Sarah Wetmore (Sudbury, Mass.) with 15 points to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds. Wetmore was also 5-of-7 from the field, and added two steals and one assist. A third double-figure scorer for RPI was junior forward Hillary McKinley (Quinebaug, Conn.) with 10 points, seven rebounds, and five blocked shots. Junior forward Nicole Monroe (Syracuse, N.Y.) had seven points and nine rebounds for the Engineers.

Springfield was led by Slattery, a junior forward from Somers, Conn., with her 21 points. She had five rebounds and three steals. The only other double-figure scorer for the Pride was junior guard Kelly Murphy (Mechanicville, N.Y.) with 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half. Murphy also added five assists, two rebounds, and two steals.

In the second half, Springfield actually led by 13 at 35-22 after 34 seconds of play on a lay-up by Slattery. But then RPI began the long comeback. With 11:26 left, RPI had outscored the Pride, 20-4, and took a 42-39 lead.

Several times, RPI took five-point leads, the last of which came with 6:46 left at 48-43. SC then scored the next five points to tie the game for the third time at 48-all. But a lay-up by Monroe with 4:38 left gave RPI the lead for good at 50-48. Three times, the Pride cut the lead to one, the last at 57-56 with eight seconds left. Two free throws by Larsen gave RPI a 59-56 lead. A 3-point attempt by senior guard and co-captain Abby Connors (Douglas, Mass.) with one second left glanced off the rim, giving the victory to the Engineers.

RPI will now play the winner of tonight's second game, Tufts University, tomorrow at 7 pm in the championship game. Springfield will play Keene State at 5 pm in the consolation. Tufts defeated Keene State, 45-29, this evening.

Game #2
Tufts 45, Keene State 29

Keene State/Tufts Box Score

In the second game of the evening, it was Tufts University defeating Keene State in a low-scoring affair, 45-29.

With the win, Tufts is now 7-1, while Keene State falls to 3-6.

This was a game pretty much dominated by the Jumbos from start to finish. The Owls managed two two-point leads, the last at 6-4, early on. But when Ali Rocchi, a freshman forward from Fairfield, Conn., buried a jumper to make it 8-6, Tufts took the lead for good.

The only double-figure scorer for Tufts in this contest was senior guard Colleen Hart (Needham, Mass.) with 14 points. She was followed by Vanessa Miller with nine points and 10 rebounds.

For Keene State, junior forward Courtney Cirillo (Windsor Locks, Conn.) led with 14 points. Junior guard Meghan Farrell (Chester, Vt.) added a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with two points.

Tufts led 24-14 at the half in this game. It outscored the Owls, 21-15, in the second half.

Tufts outrebounded Keene State, 40-37, overall. It was a poor-shooting contest. Tufts shot .322 from the floor (19-for-59). Keene State shot just .225 on 9-of-40. Tufts forced Keene State into 28 turnovers, while the Jumbos committed 18. For Tufts, junior guard Tiffany Kornegay (Carver, Mass.) came up with four steals.

Tufts will take on RPI Monday at 7 pm in the championship game of this tournament. Keene State will meet host Springfield in the consolation game at 5 pm.

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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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