By Hayden Choate
The Springfield women’s basketball team was eliminated by Smith, 55-50, in the NEWMAC conference semifinals on Friday night. The Pioneers will advance to the tournament championship on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. when they will tip-off with MIT on the Smith home court.
In a rematch of last year’s NEWMAC semifinal game when Springfield won at Smith, the Pioneers were determined to get off to a good start.
Smith led for the majority of the first half and brought a 29-27 lead into halftime. The Pride came out in the second half hot, looking like a different team after struggling to make shots in the first two quarters.
Springfield took the lead in the third quarter and into the fourth. Then, Smith came alive scoring 22 points in the final 10 minutes to secure their ticket.
“It’s a disappointing loss for us, they played well and we didn’t at times,” Springfield Head Coach Naomi Graves said.
The game was neck and neck until the final five minutes when Smith pulled away but Springfields offensive troubles is what hurt them in the end.
“We couldn’t find our offense,” Graves said. “They didn’t do anything unexpected on defense. It was us, we rushed, we forced, we took bad looks, we took bad shots.”
Springfield shot 42.9% from the foul line and 30.2% from the field.
Emily Jacques knocked down a three with 8:27 left in the fourth quarter which put Springfield up 39-35– their last lead of the game. Smith then went on a 10-0 run that Springfield could never catch up to.
The saying, “It’s hard to beat a team three times” could not have been more true in Blake Arena on Friday night. Springfield beat Smith twice in the regular season, a 54-50 win at Blake Arena in January and a 72-53 rout at Smith on Feb. 5.
Smith beat Emerson 77-65 in the NEWMAC quarterfinals on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals. First-year Jessie Ruffner led the way for the Pioneers, scoring 20 points and collecting seven rebounds.
Springfield will graduate four seniors at the end of this year. Emily Jacques, Alex Goslin, Taylor Hall and Lauren Rudolph.
“These seniors left their mark and the legacy they leaving their team is an awesome one, that they’re posse and the work that they’ve done with these younger players is going to live through them,” Graves said.