BABSON PARK, Mass. – No. 18 Babson opened the second half with a 13-3 run and then withstood several late comeback bids by visiting Smith College as the host Beavers held on to defeat their NEWMAC rivals 73-65 at Staake Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
With its 61st consecutive victory against conference competition, Babson (20-2 overall, 16-0 NEWMAC) also clinched its third consecutive regular season league title and as the top seed will once again host the NEWMAC semifinals and finals on Feb. 25 and 26.
|TOP 25 SCORES|
|No. 4 DePauw 70, Oberlin 39|
|No. 5 Calvin 48, Olivet 36|
|No. 6 William Paterson 94, New Jersey City 38|
|No. 7 Mount Union 72, Ohio Northern 68|
|No. 8 Mary Washington 54, York (Pa.) 48|
|No. 13 Juniata 75, Goucher 49|
|No. 14 Franklin 68, Anderson (S.C.) 43|
|No. 15 St. Thomas (Minn.) 53, Conc.-M’head 44|
|No. 16 Hope 73, Alma 56|
|No. 17 Lebanon Valley 74, Albright 48|
|No. 18 Babson 73, Smith 65|
|No. 21 UW-River Falls 71, UW-Oshkosh 46|
|No. 22 UW-Eau Claire 72, UW-Stout 40|
|No. 24 Johns Hopkins 67, Ursinus 46|
Currently in second place in the conference, Smith had its six-game win streak halted as the Pioneers fell to 17-5 overall and 12-4 in NEWMAC play.
Sarah Collins was sensational in the win for Babson, finishing with 20 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, five blocked shots, and five steals while shooting 10-for-16 from the field. Kathleen King added 19 points, eight boards, and five assists, and Nicki Wurdeman chipped in with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks. Allanah Wynn added 11 points, three assists, and three steals for the Beavers, and Mary O’Connor contributed career-highs of six points and four rebounds in a huge performance off the bench.
Smith was paced by Lizzy BelBruno, who scored 13 points and pulled down four rebounds, and Paulina Solis, who added 12 points, four assists, and three steals off the bench. Maddie Page chipped in with nine points, three assists, and three thefts, and Devon Quattrocchi dished out a team-high five assists while also joining Sydney Parkmond with a team-leading five caroms.
Babson took the largest lead for either team in the closely-contested first half, as back-to-back buckets by Collins provided the Beavers with an 18-11 cushion a little over six minutes into the period. However, Smith answered with six straight points to get back to within one, and the Pioneers remained within two possessions until they finally pulled even at 26-26 on a put-back by Parkmond with 6:20 left in the half. The visitors would later grab their only lead of the opening session when consecutive baskets by Rosa Drummond gave Smith a 33-32 advantage, but Babson closed the period with a 6-2 burst to take a slim 38-35 lead into the locker room.
The Beavers finally gained some breathing room early in the second half, opening the period with a 13-3 run that made it a 51-38 with 15:26 to go. The burst featured four points apiece from Collins and King and three more from Wynn.
Babson still led by 13 at 55-42 with just under 14 minutes to go, but Smith climbed back into the contest with a 10-0 run over the next three minutes. BelBruno and Quattrocchi each knocked down three-pointers during the surge, which cut the Pioneers’ deficit to just three at 55-52.
The Beavers extended their advantage again with six straight points, four of which came courtesy of King, to go up 61-52 with 7:30 left to play. After Smith cut it back to four, yet another Babson burst made it a 68-57 lead with 4:18 to go. The Pioneers then made one final run to get back to within four again, as an 8-1 barrage fueled by a pair of three-pointers from BelBruno and a steal and breakaway lay-up by Ellie Giles made it 69-65 with just 1:08 remaining in the game.
Both teams came up with big defensive stops on their opponents’ next two possessions before O’Connor effectively put the game away with a pair of free throws with exactly 14 seconds on the clock. The rookie guard later tacked on two more foul shots with 3.1 seconds to go as Babson held on for the hard-fought 73-65 win.
Saturday’s game was part of Babson’s annual “WBCA Play For Kay” event – a nationwide college basketball initiative to raise breast cancer awareness. Both teams wore pink “Play For Kay” tee-shirts during warm-ups, and donations were collected at the gate with all proceeds benefitting the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.