WORCESTER -- The WPI women's basketball team's quarterfinal round game to open the NEWMAC Tournament was one for the ages, taking an overtime period for the No. 4 seeded Crimson and Gray to upend No. 5 MIT 67-63 at Harrington Auditorium on Wednesday night.
With the victory, the Worcester's Engineers advance to face No. 1 Smith on Friday, February 25, 2022, in Northampton. The win also marks the first-ever victory for WPI over MIT in a NEWMAC playoff matchup.
Both teams fought back and forth in the fourth quarter, and with MIT ahead by six, after a Kamsi Nwogu (Algonquin, IL) layup with just 54.5 seconds remaining in play, back-to-back threes from senior Alex Scariati (Scotch Plains, NJ) - the second of which with 8.8 left - helped close the gap and send the game to overtime.
The two teams traded baskets in the overtime period until consecutive buckets from Lisa Cristiano (Valhalla, NY) gave WPI a 62-59 lead with 2:29 remaining in the game. Scariati set up her teammate both times, with Cristiano slipping by her defender and finding the bottom of the net to give the Engineers what would end up being an insurmountable lead.
Alice Kelly (Wethersfield, CT) hit a three-pointer with 42 seconds remaining that put the game out of range, and rightfully ended things with a pair of free throws, capping off a career game for the sophomore. Kelly finished with a career-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, registering her first career double-double while also shooting 70.0% from the field, a perfect 2-for-2 from deep, and drilled all seven of her free throws on the night.
Scariati added 17 points on the night, including six on a pair of clutch back-to-back threes to erase a six-point MIT lead with just 55 seconds remaining in regulation and send the game to overtime. In addition, Scariati almost registered a triple-double adding seven rebounds and eight assists, including the pair to Cristiano to seal the win. Cristiano added 12 points and five rebounds and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field against MIT.
The two teams were neck and neck all game with home team WPI able to use back-to-back buckets to end the first quarter via a Scariati trey and a Jordan Wynn (Groton, MA) layup to take a 14-10 advantage after the first 10 minutes.
MIT answered in the second quarter utilizing a quick 7-0 run in the middle of the frame to take a 17-15 lead. Both teams would trade buckets for the remainder of the period, but a Cristiano layup with 11 seconds remaining in the first half would send things to halftime tied at 22-all.
At the end of the third quarter, thanks to a buzzer-beating trey from Scariati, the Engineers headed into the final frame of regulation with a 41-39 advantage. A pair of free throws from Kelly boosted the Engineers' lead to four points with 7:18 remaining, but MIT would answer with a three from Christina Antonakakis (Holmdel, NJ) and a Kylie Gallagher (Upton, MA) layup to regain a 44-43 lead.
Antonakakis finished with a game-high 25 points on 23 attempts in the game. She hit three treys and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Gallagher added 14 points and 10 rebounds while Nwogu added 11 points and four rebounds off the bench for Cambridge's Engineers.
WPI will continue on in the NEWMAC Tournament on Friday, Feb. 25 at top-seed and nationally-ranked Smith at 7 pm. The two teams battled right until the final buzzer in their last meeting this season with the No. 17 Pioneers eking out a 56-53 victory on Jan. 19.