WORCESTER, Mass. – Powered by a game-best 20 points, including six three-pointers, from senior guard Kate Karraker, the Mount Holyoke College basketball team defeated Clark University, 45-41 in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Wednesday evening. The victory snaps the Lyons three-game slide, improving the squad to 5-11 overall and 2-5 in conference play. The Cougars are now 3-13 with a 1-7 mark in the NEWMAC.
The Lyons faced an early deficit, but a three-pointer from Karraker (Morgantown, W.V./Taft School) pushed the visitors ahead by a 5-4 margin at the 17:45 mark of the opening half. It was the go-ahead bucket the kept MHC ahead as the Lyons went on an 8-0 run to grab a 12-4 advantage.
Karraker furthered the advantage, lifting the Lyons into double-digits with a shot from behind the arc. It was the start of a 10-0 run that made it a 23-6 lead for Mount Holyoke with 6:15 left to play. Clark began to mount a comeback in the late stages of the half as a four-point stretch from sophomore forward Olivia Lyons (Belmont, Mass./Belmont) cut the deficit for the home team to 25-14 with 2:20 on the clock.
The Cougars further cut the lead in the final seven seconds as a free throw from sophomore guard Aretha Sullivan (Worcester, Mass./University Park) and a layup with one second left by first year guard Dominique St. Pierre (Portsmouth, N.H./Berwick Academy) made it an eight-point (25-17) margin for the visitors at halftime.
Karraker paced the way in the opening 20 minutes, nailing four of eight three-point attempts for 12 points. Senior forward Amber Legare (Chicopee, Mass./Chicopee Comprehensive) had nine points and five rebounds to aid in the MHC advantage. Lyons led the homestanding Cougars with six points and eight rebounds.
In the second half, Mount Holyoke continued to press as Karraker nailed her fifth shot from beyond the arc in the opening minute. Holding a 28-17 lead, the Lyons later opened the lead to 15 (32-17) on a layup and shot from the line by Legare with 16:49 on the clock.
A couple of back and forth shots saw the lead cut down to 12 (32-20), but Karraker's sixth trey of the game pushed it back to a 35-20 margin. First year guard Sam O'Gara (Worcester, Mass./Claremont Academy) then posted a four-point run to close the gap to 35-24 with 13:34 remaining.
Following a nearly three-minute scoring drought for either side, the Cougars made a dent in the MHC lead as Sullivan nailed a pair of shots from the line. Lyons then added a shot and junior guard Brooke Brennan (Weston, Mass./The Rivers School) sank a layup to make it a 37-30 game with 7:54 to play in the frame.
A pair of free throws from senior forward Nicole DeMarchena (Miami, Fla./Amherst Regional) helped the visitors get back on track, leading 39-31 with 6:50 to go, but Clark continued to edge back in as Sullivan sank a layup to make it a five-point (39-34) game with just 2:49 on the clock.
O'Gara made things interesting in the final stages, sinking a layup and then draining a three to make it a 41-39 game with 1:05 to play. A subsequent foul on Clark sent MHC's Genelle Green (Windsor, Conn./Miss Porter's School) to the line as she made one of two for a 42-39 margin with 57 seconds to go.
Green would return to the line seconds later to increase the lead to four (43-39), but a subsequent MHC foul brought Sullivan to the line, who drained both to make it a 43-41 game. The Lyons took advantage of a late foul as junior Kelly Stewart (La Cañada, Calif./La Cañada) sank both of her free throws to seal the 45-41 victory.
In addition to Karraker, who also had eight rebounds, a game-best four assists and two steals, the Lyons saw Legare post 14 points and 12 rebounds with an assist and a game-high two blocks. DeMarchena added five points, a game-best 13 rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block, while Green had 10 rebounds, two points and two assists.
For Clark, O'Gara posted 12 points with four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Sullivan added 10 points and six rebounds with two assists and a game-high four steals.
Mount Holyoke returns to action on Saturday when it hosts NEWMAC-foe Babson at 1pm. Clark is also in action on Saturday, traveling to Smith for a 2pm contest.