WORCESTER -- The trio of Ama Biney (Worcester, MA), Priscilla Dunphy (Barrington, RI) and Madison Beck (Syracuse, NY) accounted for 52 of host WPI's 68 points as the third-seeded Engineers rallied from an early 9-1 deficit to cruise past sixth-seeded Coast Guard 68-38 in a NEWMAC Women's Basketball Tournament quarterfinal contest played Wednesday evening.
With the victory, WPI advances to the NEWMAC semifinals where they will meet seventh-seeded Clark, a 65-54 upset winner at No. 2 Springfield in a 2:30pm game at top-seeded Babson. The host Beavers will face fifth-seeded Smith, a 77-70 victor versus fourth-seeded MIT, in the other semifinal at noon. The two winners meet for the title on Sunday at noon with the champion receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Crimson and Gray, ranked ninth in the latest NCAA Division III New England rankings have now four in a row and improve to 22-4 on the season. Coast Guard concludes the 2016-2017 campaign with an 11-15 record.
After falling behind 9-1 to start the first period following a layup and a pair of freebees from Gill Gerton (Lorton, VA), the hosts found a spark as Dunphy drained a 3-pointer, the team's first of the game. It was the second straight season that the hosts trailed by eight in the early going of the NEWMAC Tournament quarterfinal. Last season the Engineers saw visiting Smith score the opening eight points before responding with a 54-47 triumph en route to WPI's first conference tournament crown since 1996. WPI finished a 10-0 run as they took their first lead of the game (11-9) with two minutes remaining in the first period. The Bears were able to regain the lead after Micaela Martinelli (Vero Beach, FL) canned her second 3-point jumper of the game. The period ended with a new game, a 12-12 tie.
Following the brief intermission, a see-saw battle ensued as the two teams matched each other in scoring with Zoe Riis-Fallica (Patchogue, NY) finding four of her six points of the half. A pair of Crimson and Gray threes pushed the hosts into a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game. WPI saw its largest lead of the half grow to eight (30-22) as Biney snagged a pair of steals and led the team with 12 points in the half notching 10 of those in the second period alone with two shots from beyond the arc.
The Boynton Hillers took advantage of a series of miscues from the Coast Guard offense, scoring 14 points off of turnovers in the third stanza. The hosts also dominated in the paint, outscoring the visitors 8-2 with Beck tallying six points as WPI extended its lead for the final quarter of play.
Biney and Dunphy led all other scorers with 18 points, shooting 7-of-12 and 7-of-13 respectively. Dunphy also collected a game-best seven rebounds in the victory while Beck tallied a career-high 16 points and Stasha Greenalch (Newington, CT) contributed with four assists and three steals.
Gerton led her team with ten points and Coast Guard's only steal. She was followed closely by Martinelli with nine points. Brenna Wood (Somerset, MA) and Johanna Moolenaar (Denver, NC) shared team-high honors in rebounds with five apiece.
Coast Guard turned the ball over 20 times while WPI committed just 6 miscues and the Engineers held an eye-popping 36-2 edge in points off of turnovers.
Majority of recap written by WPI student assistant Ranier Gran '18
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