GORHAM, Maine – Ithaca (26-2) continued its record-setting season with a 56-43 victory against Colby-Sawyer (23-6) on Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament hosted by Southern Maine in Hill Gymnasium.
Making its 10th NCAA appearance and third in the last four years, Ithaca improved its win streak to 13 and its single-season wins record to 26. Saturday’s contest will be Ithaca’s sixth in the NCAA second round. The Bombers have only advanced to the Sweet 16 once (2002-03).
Ithaca and Colby-Sawyer faced off once before, with the Bombers defeating the Chargers 64-46 in the first round of the NCAA playoffs on March 2, 2005.
The game started slow, with the Chargers leading 11-4 just 3:20 into action, but Ithaca answered and held a 24-20 gap at intermission. The Bombers powered to a 22-point lead nine minutes into the second half, but a 17-1 Colby-Sawyer run made it a six-point game at 2:36. Junior Mary Kate Tierney put away a jumper and a 3-pointer from the left wing to regain a double-digit lead and help the Bombers cruise to the second round.
Senior Devin Shea led all players with 17 points. Tierney and Jenn Escobido each recorded double-doubles on the night. Tierney had 12 points and 10 boards, while Escobido clinched 10 and 10. Tierney added five steals. Sophomore Samantha Klie led the game with five assists and Escobido dished out four. Junior Kathryn Campbell added nine boards as the Bombers held a solid 45-27 advantage in rebounds.
A pair of Campbell free throws opened all scoring, but the Chargers used an 11-2 run to lead 11-4 at 16:40. The Bombers answered with eight consecutive for a 12-11 edge, while holding Colby-Sawyer silent for more than six minutes. Ithaca went on to take a 17-14 lead at the six-minute mark before relinquishing the lead to the Chargers who scored back-to-back buckets. Ithaca recorded seven of the final nine points of the half to lead 24-20 at intermission. Both squads suffered 14 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. Ithaca’s 9-4 record in steals and an 11-2 gap in offensive boards kept the Bombers a step ahead in the first.
Colby-Sawyer netted the first basket of the second half, but a 22-2 Ithaca run followed. Shea kicked off the streak, converting on a three-point play. Tierney drained a three from the right wing to force a Charger timeout at 17:22. Shea drove the lane and hit a baseline jumper before a pair of Tierney free throws. Sophomore Geena Brady followed two Charger free throws with a duo of field goals. Campbell had a layup and Escobido drained back-to-back baseline jumpers on Klie assists for a 46-24 lead at 11:18.
Colby-Sawyer surged to get within six on a 17-1 streak that held the Bombers scoreless for more than seven minutes. Tierney snapped the scoring drought with five consecutive to again secure a double-digit difference at 52-41. Colby-Sawyer scored a layup at 1:07, but free throws by Campbell and Escobido sealed the game in Ithaca’s favor 56-43.