Babson 51, Wheaton 43
Worcester, MA --- Renay Hamilton (Lynn, MA) and
Nicole Wurdeman (Rowley, MA) broke a 43-43 tie
with baskets in the final two minutes to lift second-seeded Babson
to a 51-43 win over fourth-seeded Wheaton in the NEWMAC Women's
Basketball Tournament championship game Sunday afternoon at WPI's
The win marks Babson's fourth conference championship and its first since 1999. Wheaton sees its season come to an end with a 17-11 record.
Wheaton's Bri Smith (Westford, MA) scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the first half to lead the Lyons, including a layup at 8:15 that gave Wheaton a 14-12 lead. The hoop was good for the 1,000th point of her college career, making her the 10th Lyon in program history to reach the milestone.
With Wheaton holding on to a slim 23-22 lead, a pair of 3-pointers by Michelle Kenel (Rockaway Beach, NY) fueled Babson's 8-0 run in the final 1:10 of the half to regain the lead and take a 30-23 lead into the locker room.
Wheaton erased the deficit quickly after halftime, outscoring the Beavers 11-4 in the first five minutes of the second half, thanks to back-to-back 3's by Smith that pulled the Lyons even at 34. The game remained close throughout the second half, as the teams would only combine for 18 points over the next 11:24. Babson would clamp down on the defensive end in the second half, holding Wheaton without a field goal for the final 10:25 of the game.
Babson took a lead they would not relinquish (41-39) when Hamilton drained a foul-line jumper with 2:01 left. Wurdeman pushed the advantage to four with a lay-up with just 32 seconds remaining. The Beavers would secure the title by canning four free throws in the final 21 seconds.
The game featured eight ties and the teams traded the lead 11 times before Babson's flurry in the final minutes allowed them to gain control. The Beavers had eight players dent the scoring column in the game, and outshot Wheaton in each half en route to the tournament championship.
Wurdeman led Babson with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Kenel added 11 points and eight rebounds for the new NEWMAC champions. Kathleen King (Framingham, MA) chipped in with eight points, nine rebounds and a game-best three steals for the victors.
Smith's 20 points paced Wheaton, while Ida Kruse (Vershire, VT) contributed seven points and eight rebounds in a losing effort. Jenny Champney (Bedford, MA) added six points and six boards, while Andrea Bailey (Needham, MA) dished out a game-high eight assists.
With the win, Babson receives the NEWMAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament to begin next weekend. Brackets will be revealed on Monday. Wheaton hopes for an invite to the ECAC New England Championships. Selections will also be announced on Monday.
Story written by Ray Cotrufo '98 - WPI Athletics Department