WPI 43, Nichols 36
Dudley, MA --- Led by a double-double from tournament Most Outstanding Player Serena Dubois (Bangor, ME), the WPI women's basketball team claimed its second ECAC Division III New England Women's Basketball Championship in the last three years with a 43-36 victory over Nichols Saturday afternoon. With the win, the second-seeded Engineers set the program's single-season wins record, finishing the season at 24-6. Top-seeded Nichols wrapped up the season with a program-record 25 victories at a 25-5 ledger.
WPI won its fourth ECAC title overall; the Engineers were also tournament champions in 1983, 1987 and most recently in 2007. The win marks the second for Head Coach Cherise Galasso and for WPI's seniors, Natasha Deschene (Presque Isle, ME) and Caitlin Macko (Cromwell, CT), who finish their careers with a 78-33 record, the most by any class in WPI's history. Macko finishes with 111 career games played, the program's record.
Dubois posted 12 points to go with a game-high 11 rebounds and four steals, while sophomore guard Elle Fontaine (Franklin, MA) also recorded a double-double for the Engineers, netting 12 points - 10 in the second half - and 10 boards.
Senior point guard MaryLynn Skarzenski (Woodbridge, NJ) led the Bison with nine points, while sophomore Michele Guerin (Chicopee, MA) added eight points and nine rebounds off the bench. Sophomore forward Jessica Nelson (No. Providence, RI) picked up seven points and six boards, and junior forward Margaret Lilly (Ashfield, MA) had nine rebounds to go with six points.
Both teams struggled to find the basket in the opening frame, and played a tight defensive game that saw three lead changes and the largest lead at any point in favor of the Bison at 14-10 with 7:30 left in the half. A pair of Dubois layups erased the margin and found the teams tied with just over five minutes left before the Bison managed a jumper from Skarzenski and a Lyndsey Bennett (No. Brookfield, MA) three-pointer over the remainder to carry a 19-14 advantage into the locker room.
The teams again struggled offensively early in the second half, combining for just nine points in the opening eight minutes before WPI found its stride, mounting a 14-2 run.
Trailing, 24-18, Fontaine completed a three-point play and then sank a three-pointer to knot the game, 24-24, with 9:29 left. After a pair of Lilly free throws, putting the Bison up by two, Lauren Hannmann (East Greenbush, NY) hit a second-chance jumper to tie it up at 26-26. WPI then sank two consecutive treys to cap the comeback and take a six-point lead with 6:05 left.
The Engineers pushed ahead by eight on a Kuhn jumper with 3:51 left, but the Bison cut it down with a three-point play from Guerin, and later came within four on three swishes from the charity stripe by Bennett. That was as close as Nichols got, as WPI hit five of six free throws in the final minute.
WPI held the Bison to 14.8% shooting in the second half, outscoring the home team, 29-17 in the frame. For the game, the Engineers finished 31.5% from the field, while Nichols was 21.4%. The Bison claimed a 45-39 rebounding advantage, but WPI collected 15 points off of Nichols' 18 turnovers.
Nichols turned the Engineers' 16 turnovers into seven points.
Skarzenski finishes her career as Nichols' all-time leader in assists, steals, games played and started, and stands fourth on the all-time scoring charts with 1,333 career points. The TCCC Player, Defensive Player and Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year, she started, played and scored in all 115 games since stepping foot on the Nichols College campus.
Release Courtesy Nichols Sports Information