WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The Curry College women's basketball team was bested in their first game of the University of St. Joseph tournament on Friday evening, falling to New England College (NEC) by a score of 63-46. After the loss, the Colonels sit at 0-4 while the Pilgrims start their season at 1-0.
Three minutes into the action, a three by Rene Hudson (Gallatin, Tenn.) gave New England College their first lead of the evening at 3-2. Despite several close calls, the Pilgrims did not surrender their lead for the remainder of the contest. Kathrynn Dunn (Hanson, Mass.) would split a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to one at 5-4, but NEC closed the quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 14-6 advantage into the first break, while already holding a 13-7 edge in rebounds.
After giving up seven of the second quarter's first nine points, the Colonels went on a run of their own, scoring five unanswered, capped by an and-1 from Kirsten Smith (East Bridgewater, Mass.). After the Pilgrims took back four points to make the lead 25-15, the Colonels showed they were not backing down, as they went to the half on an 11-3 streak, cutting the deficit all the way down to one possession, at 28-26.
As the second half commenced, Bianna Pierreval (Boynton Beach, Fla.) made a layup to get the Pilgrims back on the board, but a three from Gina Coote (Dedham, Mass.) brought Curry to within one at 30-29. The teams would continue to trade baskets, but another basket by Coote with 6:10 left in the third would stand to be the only score over the next 2:10 of play, until a bucket from Daleia Boutwell (Dorchester, Mass.) broke the drought and gave NEC some breathing room at 36-31. The Colonels stayed close, cutting the lead to 36-34 with 2:30 to play in the third quarter, but eight straight Pilgrim points sent NEC to the fourth quarter with a 44-34 edge.
After going scoreless over the final two minutes-plus of the previous frame, the Colonels offensive struggles persisted into the fourth, as the Pilgrims managed to continue to hold Curry without a point until over five minutes had ticked off the clock in the final stanza. Now faced with an uphill climb to the tune of a 55-34 score, the Colonels regrouped and found a groove, but did not have enough time to overcome the deficit. Curry closed the game by taking 12 of the final 20 points, but it would not be enough to keep the Pilgrims from a 63-46 victory.
The Colonels were led by Katie Smith (East Bridgewater, Mass.), who led all players with 14 points on the evening, while Dunn topped the team with a pair of assists. Kaitlynn Smith (Hull, Mass.) rounded out Curry's team leaders with eight rebounds, matching NEC's Mariah Thomas (Cypress, Texas) and Ericka Pratt (Miami, Fla.). Haleigh Martin (Bergenfield, N.J.) contributed a game-high six helpers for the Pilgrims, while Pierreval led the way with 13 points.
After the win, NEC will play the hosts, the University of St. Joseph Blue Jays, tomorrow, Saturday, November 16, in the tournament championship game at 2:00 p.m. Before that game, the Colonels will take on the Gators of Pine Manor at 12:00 p.m. in the consolation game.