Basketball Clinches First-Ever NEWMAC Championship Title
WORCESTER, Mass. (February 25, 2007) - Second-seeded Mount Holyoke College claimed its first-ever New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament crown with a thrilling 51-46 victory over top-seeded WPI at Harrington Auditorium on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Lyons (21-7) will appear in their first NCAA Division III Championships and awaits the pairings, which come out tomorrow. WPI (20-7), the regular-season NEWMAC champion, awaits word on Monday for a probable ECAC Tournament bid.
WPI led up until the 15:44 mark of the second half, as the Lyons, who had trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, put together an 8-0 run to take the lead. They would lead for the rest of the way except for a 43-second span following a Kaileen Selen (Worcester, Mass.) trey and a Kate Maki (Fitchburg, Mass.) lay-up that gave WPI a brief 35-34 lead. Marisa Barone (Ludlow, Mass.) reclaimed the lead for Mount Holyoke by converting a three-point play at the 10:20 mark.
Mount Holyoke had led by four at 47-43 following a Joeanna Silvey (Boston, Mass.) lay-up when WPI made a run for the title. With 1:46 remaining, Kate Maki hit a 3-pointer from the left side of the top of the key to pull the Engineers to within one. After a Mount Holyoke turnover and a WPI miss, Meghan Pajonas (Bristol, Conn.) came away with a defensive rebound following a missed free throw with just under 50 seconds remaining. On the offensive end, Maki made a nice move to the basket but Silvey posted a key block on the play. Angela Astuccio (Foxboro, Mass.) hit a pair of free throws following the block, pushing the Lyons' lead to three points. WPI charged back downcourt and missed a 3-point attempt, but grabbed the rebound. Following a time out, Astuccio stole the inbound pass from WPI and got the ball downcourt to Marisa Barone, who made the open lay-up in the closing seconds.
Three players scored in double figures for the Lyons. Silvey had a game-high 17 points while Astuccio added 16 points and a game-high seven assists. Barone chipped with 13 points and nine rebounds.
For WPI, Pajonas finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. It marked her ninth double-double of the season. Maki scored a career-high 12 points, going 5-of-9 from the field while Michelle Perry (Pelham, N.H.) and Selen added eight and six points respectively.