NORTON, Mass. - March 1, 2008 - Junior center Lauren O'Connor tallied 11 points, to go along with seven rebounds and six assists, to lead the Springfield College women's basketball team to a thrilling 58-57 victory over Coast Guard in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference semifinals this afternoon at Wheaton College's Emerson Gymnasium.
The Pride, the third seed in the tournament, upset the second-seeded Bears and avenged two previous losses this season to the Coast Guard Academy. Springfield moves on to Sunday's final against the top-seeded and host Wheaton Lyons at 1:00 pm. Wheaton advanced past WPI, 59-53, in the first game of the afternoon. Springfield is now 16-10 on the season.
After a conventional three-point play by freshman Amelia Sapowsky put Springfield up by 10, 54-44, with just over five minutes left in regulation, the Bears went on a furious rally.
An 8-0 run fueled by a pair of trifectas from Corrine McCormack cut Springfield's lead to just two, 54-52, with 3:51 left on the clock. A pair from the charity stripe from Tara McCarthy pushed the Pride's lead back to four, only to have a DeCarol Davis triple on the ensuing possesion bring Coast Guard within one.
The two teams traded possessions before O'Connor calmy sank both free throws in a one-and-one situation, pushing SC's lead back to three with 26 seconds left. Coast Guard would not go away quietly as Melissa Martinelli's put back layup with 7.9 seconds left made it a 58-57 game.
The Bears then fouled Meaghan Macarthur, who missed the front end of the one-and-one with 6.9 seconds left, but the scramble for the rebound knocked several more seconds off the clock. Coast Guard's Jennifer Tammimen finally snagged the rebound, but with just 1.9 seconds left on the clock. Three players, two from Coast Guard and one from Springfield (McCarthy) were all holding their heads and on the floor during that scramble. Coming out of a timeout, Coast Guard had to go the length of the floor. The in-bounds pass went about 5 feet beyond mid-court, but was batted away by McCarthy, and Coast Guard never did get a shot off as Springfield held on for the one-point win.
Springfied was seemingly in control from the start , holding Coast Guard to just four points over the opening eight minutes of the game. The Pride led by as many as 10 after a three-pointer by Abby Connors put SC up 24-14 with 4:51 left in the first half.
Freshman Rachelle Walker finished with a team-best 12 points for the Pride, connecting on four three-pointers in the game. Senior Christine Cotter finished with nine points while her classmate McCarthy added eight. Sapowsky added seven points in just 12 minutes of action for the Pride. Springfield held the edge from long distance, connecting on 9-of-17 from beyond the arc.
McCormack netted a game-high 23 points in the loss for Coast Guard, while Martinelli added 17.