Northampton, MA --- The No. 4 seeded WPI women's basketball team's NEWMAC Tournament run came to a close on Friday night with a 63-35 loss to No. 1 Smith.
After a tight first quarter that saw the Engineers (19-5) on top 13-12, Smith (22-2) poured on both the offense and defense in the second stanza putting up 21 points, while holding WPI to just four to amass a 33-17 halftime lead, and ultimately, the victory.
Lisa Cristiano (Valhalla, NY) paced all Engineer scorers with nine points, going 4-for-6 from the field. Kara ONeil (Holden, MA) added seven points while Alex Scariati (Scotch Plains, NJ) battled through foul trouble to add five points and four rebounds.
A trey from Scariati, a jumper from Cristiano and a bucket from Adrianna Niles (Tewksbury, MA) gave WPI a fast 11-4 lead. Smith clawed back into the game and a layup from Morgan Morrison (Detroit, MI) with 26 seconds left in the first quarter made it a 13-12 ballgame in favor of the Engineers.
The Pioneers' late first quarter run extended into the second frame with Shannon Reno (Millbury, MA) and Melanie Presseau (Manchester, NH) netting the only baskets of the second quarter. Smith's 21 points came on 8-of-19 shooting, while the Pioneers pulled down 13 rebounds to WPI's four.
The third quarter was once again a nailbiter, with the two teams trading buckets throughout the entirety of the quarter as WPI was able to keep it within one point in the third quarter heading into the final 10 minutes with some making up to do, down 47-30.
But once again Smith used the even numbered quarter to do damage, pouring on another 16 points, while holding WPI to five en route to the win.
Smith was led by Dashelle Gleissner (Los Angeles, CA) who finished with a game-high 14 points, five assists and four rebounds. Morrison added 12 points and eight rebounds and Jessie Ruffner (Rocklin, CA) chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds in the win.
Smith led the way for nearly 30 minutes of action, leading by as much as 28. The Pioneers outscored WPI 36-24 in the paint while WPI was only able to knock down one 3-pointer on the night while Smith drained five.
Smith will continue on to the NEWMAC Championship game, where they will face No. 2 seed Babson on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 1 pm. WPI, ranked fifth in the most recent NCAA Division III Region II ranks, holds out hope for a Pool C bid to the NCAA Tournament. The selections and bracket will be revealed Monday at 2:30pm on NCAA.com.