Despite the relentless efforts of the Springfield College women’s basketball team, the Pride lost to MIT in the NEWMAC Tournament Championship 50-66. The Engineers now advance to the Division III NCAA Tournament.
After defeating MIT in a narrow 58-59 victory during the regular season, the team was unable to do so again today.
Springfield scored the first two points of the game, but MIT responded immediately. The Engineers went on a seven-point run within the first two and a half minutes. Senior Chelsea McAllister put an stop to it by draining a big 3-pointer, sending the crowd of Blake Arena out of their seats.
After a tight defensive start between both teams, MIT led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.
The Pride came out strong in the second quarter, with McAllister taking a charge during MIT’s first possession. Junior Emily Jacques took over from there. The guard came up with back to back steals, which she and freshman Grace Dzindolet converted into quick points.
With only a mere one point lead, MIT amped up their play and hit back to back 3-pointers. This was only the beginning of what would prove to be a vital offensive game plan for the Engineers.
By the end of the quarter, MIT drained four 3-pointers, shooting 57 percent from behind the arc. From the floor, the Engineers shot an impressive 50 percent, whereas Springfield shot 31 percent.
Going into halftime, the Pride trailed 23-35. Uncharacteristic of Springfield, senior Gracie Restituyo and junior Alex Goslin both had yet to score a single point. By the end of the game, Restituyo and Goslin would put up seven and three points, respectively.
“I think MIT did a really good job taking us out of our offensive continuity,” said women’s basketball head coach Naomi Graves. “In my system, you’ve got to have something inside, either penetration or some presence inside that can score, to get the guards loosened up a little bit for their shot. And we just couldn’t get anything going inside.”
But the Pride looked to turn it around.
In the third quarter, Springfield set the tone defensively by not allowing MIT to score in the first 3:40. The team forced four turnovers for the Engineers, all the while going on a six-point run themselves.
Narrowing the score to 29-35, MIT responded again. Sinking basket after basket, the Engineers created their largest lead of the game at 15 points with 2:20 remaining. They then closed out the quarter leading 47-34.
With just the fourth and final quarter remaining, Springfield fought hard to try to overcome the scoring deficit. However in the end, MIT’s physical style of play and remarkable shooting abilities would lead them to a 66-50 victory over the Pride.
While the team was unable to claim the NEWMAC Championship title, Graves noted that this was a valuable experience for the future of the program.
“I think it was so good for our younger kids to learn what it takes to get to this point, and how hard it is,” she said. “Now, I hope they take that and after a little time, we get them back in, and they motivate themselves to get back in the gym and get better.”
As freshmen, both Amanda Carr and Dzindolet made the most of the experience. Carr finished with four points, tied for the most rebounds with six, and produced the team’s only block. Meanwhile, Dzindolet came up with eight points, five rebounds, and one steal.
Leading the team was junior Jacques with 15 points, three steals, one assist, and two rebounds.
This loss marks the end of the 2018-19 season for the women’s basketball team. The Pride will not look to compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Tournament.
“I didn’t want to go to ECAC, because I felt we had learned from ECAC. The reason we went to ECAC had everything to do with learning what it’s like to be in a tournament format,” Graves explained. “My goal is not to play in ECAC. I said to them early, ‘we got our experience, now we’ve got to finish.'”
Although the Pride did not finish the season how they had hoped, Graves is proud of her team.
“Good, bad, or indefferent in how we played today, we went futher this year than we did last year,” she said. “Now, we’ve got to get back here.”
After 132 days of basketball, Springfield ends its season with a overall record of 18-10.