Courtesy of the Smith College sports information department, here’s this evening’s release about the Pioneers, who defeated Mount Holyoke College and delivered their head coach, Lynn Hersey, her 100th with with the program:
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Rosa Drummond scored 18 points and pulled down 11 defensive rebounds to notch her third consecutive double-double as the Smith College basketball team defeated visiting Mount Holyoke 63-56 on Wednesday night in a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference matchup inside Ainsworth Gym.
With the win, Smith, who improved to 9-10 on the year and 9-5 in the conference, delivered Lynn Hersey her 100th victory as the Pioneers head coach. Mount Holyoke, meanwhile, moved to 5-14 on the season and 2-12 in the loop.
Mount Holyoke was led by Kate Karraker with 15 points and Amber Legare, who narrowly missed a double-double, with 15 points and nine boards. Genelle Green tacked on 10 points for the Lyons as Nicole DeMarchena was credited with four swipes.
After trading early buckets, Karraker sparked a 12-2 run that saw Green push the Lyons lead to 10 with a layup just over five minutes into the contest. Nearly two-and-a-half minutes later, Drummond began a Pioneer 12-2 run with a traditional three-point play. She went on to tie the game at 16-all with a pair of freebies with under nine minutes left in the half. After the Pioneers took a pair of four-point leads, DeMarchena combined with Jennine Vizcaino to take the 24-22 lead with 3:36 to go in the stanza. After a Legare jumper to make it a four-point game, Solis and Drummond teamed up to give the hosts a 29-26 advantage heading into the break.
The Pioneers slowly built a double-digit lead and were up by as much as 15 (52-37) following a triple by Mandy Castro midway through the second half. The Lyons then used a 12-3 run to get within six with 3:34 to go. The trio of Drummond, Parkmond and Solis pushed the advantage back to 11 before Legare and Green each hit a layup and Karraker drained a free throw to make it a six-point ballgame with under a minute left. The Pioneers sank three free throws and DeMarchena countered with a layup in the waning moments for the 63-56 final.
Both squads host league games on Saturday as Smith hosts first-place Wellesley at 2:00 p.m. and Mount Holyoke entertains MIT at 1:00 p.m.
With the college basketball season in Massachusetts slowly hitting the halfway point, it’s time to provide a few thoughts on what’s occurred in the Div. III world thus far.
* I’m not sure if this is a total shocker, but the WPI men’s basketball team is 10-0. They’ve managed to pullout a few impressive wins against Fitchburg State, Husson College and Rhode Island College, and will attempt to keep their perfect mark intact when they host Colby-Sawyer on Sunday, December 30.
* As usual, Amherst College remains one of the top squads in the country, as well as New England. The Lord Jeffs are currently 8-2, and riding a two-game winning streak. Amherst will attempt to keep their winning ways going over the next few weeks when they travel to four different institutions before returning home for a contest against Hamilton College on January 11.
* The NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) men’s basketball conference currently has three teams with eight wins (Amherst, Middlebury and Williams). As expected, all three teams will be in the running for a conference crown, but which one is the strongest unit? I’d probably say Amherst due to their depth, but let’s not count out the Ephs or Panthers.
* Jim O’Brien must have done something during the offseason, as his Emerson College Lions men’s basketball team is currently 4-4. The Lions have won two-of-three GNAC (Great Northeast Athletic Conference) games, but know their biggest test will occur on January 19, against Albertus Magnus.
* The GNAC women’s conference seems like a toss-up, but luckily its only December. Emmanuel College hasn’t played a single conference game, but has managed to win eight-of-night contests. The Saints only setback came against Amherst College, but luckily they’ve been able to rebound with two back-to-back victories against Endicott College and Salem State.
* Babson College and Smith College both have eight wins. Yet, the Beavers haven’t lost this season. The Pioneers only loss came against RPI, but ever since they’ve won six consecutive games. Both teams will meet twice in 2013, and it’ll be interesting to see if Lynn Hersey’s squad can overcome their past NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) championship losses.
* Tufts University’s women’s team has been on a roll. The Jumbos have won all nine of their contests and will attempt to earn their 10th win against Connecticut College on Monday, December 31. Are the Jumbos for real? Tufts’ has always been a tough team to beat, and this year they certainly have been impressive.
BABSON PARK, MA – Sunday’s loss to Babson College wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to digest, especially for Smith College head coach Lynn Hersey, who stated, “I would say that our goal was to win, [but] getting to this point – there’s positives for it, but we’re disappointed with the loss.”
The Pioneers concluded their season with a heart breaking, 74-51 defeat to the Beavers, who wrapped up the NEWMAC conference for the fourth consecutive year. Yet, despite losing to Babson for the third time this season, Hersey believes that this particular game will benefit her team going forward.
“I think we learned a lot from this – we have a young group, one senior, [so] getting back to the NEWMAC championship game for the second year – I think we were hoping for a better result, but we’re going to learn from it, and focus on the future,” said Hersey.
The head coach continued by discussing the team’s consistency throughout the past year by saying, “To win 20 games – that shows a consistency in your program, and maturity in your program to come out and compete, day in and day out.”
Smith kept pace with Babson following the opening tap, but when sophomore Rosa Drummond missed the team’s first shot at 17:56, the Beavers immediately raced down court and earned their first lead of the contest, which was never relinquished. Hersey called a timeout a few minutes later, but the 30-second breather didn’t exactly help the Pioneers stop their opponent, who ended the first half on a 30-13 run.
“I think I was more just trying to focus us back on our game plan,” Hersey said of that particular timeout. “Unfortunately, it kind of came a little too late in the game.”
The Pioneers ended the contest sinking 31.3 percent of their field goals, which wasn’t enough to upset the top-seed in their conference.
“We have a bright future. We lose one senior, and she’s a big player for us, but I think the experience is very valuable,” added the head coach.
Smith will most likely not receive an invitation to the upcoming NCAA Division III March Madness tournament, but could possibly earn a bid for the New England ECAC tournament, which is slated to tip-off on February 29.
“We’ll await an ECAC bid, and take our pathway that way,” said Hersey.
BABSON PARK, MA – The Babson College women’s basketball earned its 61st consecutive NEWMAC conference win on Saturday afternoon, as the Beavers defeated Smith College, 73-65.
The Beavers win, (20-2, 16-2) marks their third regular season conference crown, as well as the top seed in the upcoming NEWMAC tournament. Also, the victory marked the third time in 36 conference matches that the Beavers have defeated an opponent in the standings by less than 20 points.
“I think Smith played a wonderful game. They kept coming at us and coming at us. They kept a lot of rebounds alive and seemed to beat us to all the loose balls, but I’m glad we grinded it out,” said Babson head coach Judy Blinstrub.
After a back and fourth 20 minutes, the Beavers began the second session with the momentum, as well as an 11-point lead at 15:01.
Yet, Smith fought back valiantly when freshman Maddie Page, (nine points, three assists)sank a trifecta and a pair of free throws, which brought the Pioneers within four points with six minutes remaining.
However, the Pioneers, (17-5, 12-4) comeback hopes were dashed 12 seconds later when junior Sarah Collins, (20 points, 17 rebounds)recorded a layup that sparked an 7-0 run that was capped off by junior Allanah Wynn’s three-pointer.
Smith’s offense managed to pull within four-points at 1:08, but once again, the Beavers responded with four free throws during the final seconds of regulation by freshman Mary O’Connor, which secured the win for the Green and White.
“We came in with a different plan and tried to utilize our strengths rather than just respond to what they do all the time,” said Smith head coach Lynn Hersey. “If a few of those balls went in that rimmed out, it would have been nice, but we learned a lot today”
Babson has now defeated Smith College in their last five meetings, which includes the NEWMAC championship clash from last season.
The Beavers will return to the court on Tuesday when they host Colby College, while the Pioneers will head home to host WPI on Wednesday.
Game Note – Babson senior forward Nicki Wurdeman, (11 rebounds) finished the game with 13 points, and is now 11 points shy of tying the school’s all-time scoring record of 1,927, which was set by Michelle Merten in 1995. The former Beaver is expected to attend Tuesday’s clash between Babson and Colby.
The Pioneers currently find themselves in second place in the NEWMAC and are on track to return to the conference championship for the second year in a row.
“We’re definitely fortunate to be in the place that we are [currently]. We feel grateful, [but] we also feel very much that our work ethic has put us there, and we’re hoping to be a contender here in the NEWMAC down the road,” said head coach Lynn Hersey.
Smith College returns to the court on Saturday, February 11, when they travel to Babson Park to face Babson College, who beat the Pioneers earlier this season in Northampton.
Here is our conversation with the head coach on the season, enjoy.
On the season thus far: “We feel very happy with how our team has progressed over this year’s time and last year. Each year we’re continuing to grow, and build a very strong nucleus of players and [create] a different culture in our program, and I think those are the many of the factors that it takes to compete with some of the better teams in New England, and continue to push your program to be the best it can be, so it’s pretty simple how we’ve positioned things. We work very hard every day, and then we spend a lot of time working on our team chemistry and our team dynamic, which has been a good recipe for us.”
On experiencing a few losses in December: “Certainly any loss does provide a good perspective of what areas are working well for you and what areas that you need to improve upon. [Against] Springfield College, we didn’t do a great job with handling the pick and rolls consistently from a defensive standpoint, and a few of our defensive rotations were not as done as they normally are, so from that game we did focus a lot on our half court defensive pressure and rotations. As for some of the other games, [our team lost], we didn’t execute as well, and I think the consistency of that is still part of our youthfulness. We only have one senior on the squad, so I do think at moments the experience and just the consistency of execution during those losses were areas that we noticed that we fell a little short at, but we’ve continued to try and put ourselves in those games sittuations in practice and really have just a better understanding of what we’re looking for from coaches and what particular players roles are in certain situations. And I think down the stretch, we’re on an upswing at the right time, so I think everything has worked at has it’s supposed to and you learn from those things and improve upon them and you keep playing each game as prepared as you can be.”
On what one can learn from playing against Babson College: “Babson’s so tough. They have the best threesome in probably Division III, and they’re extremely seasoned players, they play so well together, and they know how to win, they know how to finish games. They make big shots, big plays, and they’re very good at going on runs, especially in the second half by pushing through and making what was a five-point game into a 27-point game in a matter of three or four minutes.
On playing against veteran squads: “We’re very realistic about their talents and abilities, but each time we’re going to go out with a game plan and our kids will buy into it, and we will do our best to work hard at that and see if we might be able to expose something different that another team hasn’t been able to do yet. I think our kids get excited to play Babson. I think they really see it as an opportunity as opposed to something that they’re intimidated, but they’re also well aware of what it would take to have chance to be competitive with them down the stretch, so it’s been a learning curve playing Babson in particular as well, but we’re hoping to see them again in the tournament, and we’re fortunate enough to do that, and hopefully we’ve got enough information from [the regular season matchups] to see what we can do.”
On three keys for Smith to defeat Babson College on Saturday, February 11: “I think [we need to] rebound, which is number one. We’ve got to be able to contain them to a limited amount of offensive boards and second chance points, so that’s number one. Two is tempo. We need to play at a certain tempo or our style and that really helps to generate the energy that we need to compete with them, and then the third thing is we have to be offensive minded. I think we’re going to be really looking to attack their ability to send their hoop, and try to challenge them in that way.”
On eventually earning a NEWMAC title: “That’s the goal. I think the players who have come to play at Smith are well aware of the fact that it’s the ultimate goal for all of us. It is about our daily work ethic. It is about treating practices as the most important part of our season, and preparing ourselves both mentally and physically to compete at that level. It would mean a great deal [because] I think it would be a special memory for all of our players. It would cap off the four-year experience of college and I think it is about creating a culture and if our program can kind of create that culture and it can rub off on other programs at Smith, then that’s certainly icing on the cake.”