Endicott grinds out 71-66 win over Clark to advance into ECAC Semifinals
BEVERLY, Mass. – Playing as the #3 seed in the ECAC Division III New England Tournament quarterfinals, the Endicott women's basketball team erased a slim, two-point halftime deficit and grinded out a 71-66 victory over Clark down the stretch to advance into the next round.
Endicott (18-11) will now face off with the #2 seed Smith on Saturday, March 3rd at 2:00 pm. The semifinal and final rounds of the tournament are being hosted by top-seed Keene State in Keene, New Hampshire. The Gulls are making their fourth appearance in the ECAC Semifinals in program history and their second trip in-a-row. Endicott has never won the regional tournament.
Endicott's win also avenged a November 20th, 2011 loss to Clark at the Brandeis Judges Classic when the Cougars pulled off a 57-47 win in the tournament's consolation game.
Clark (16-11), quarterfinalists in the NEWMAC Tournament, saw their 2011-12 season come to an end despite 16-point effort by sophomore forward Megan Grondin (Cumberland, Maine). Grondin added four rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal in the loss.
The Blue and Green were led by freshman forward Kayleen Whall (Foxboro, Mass.) who matched her season-high with 19 points of 4-of-8 shooting and an impressive 10-of-11 at the free throw line. Sophomore Samantha Crough (Cohasset, Mass.) added 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in an overall solid effort. Junior Jen McBrien (Medfield, Mass.) was a major factor in Endicott's 40-32 rebounding advantage as the guard fought hard for a game-high eight boards in 23 minutes off the bench.
The Cougars started off the first half with the hot shooting hand, making their first four shots of the game including a three-pointer and a layup by sophomore guard Ashleigh Condon (Hull, Mass.). At the 14:45 mark of the first half, following a three-point make by senior Kate Minister (Manchester, England), Clark held an early 14-7 lead. They would go on to stretch that lead to as large as 10 points at 21-11 with 8:38 remaining in the half before Endicott kicked their offense into gear.
Over the next four minutes, the Gulls went on an 11-2 run to pull within one point at 23-22. Layups by Crough and a three-ball by sophomore guard Jennifer White (Lisbon, N.H.) cut Clark's deficit into single digits. With 1:39 to go in the half, a three-pointer by Endicott freshman Carley Stauffer (Chester, Vt.) tied the game at 27-27. Stauffer played well in nine minutes off the bench, scoring five points with two assists and a steal. Endicott would go into the break down 31-29.
In the second half, the Gulls raced out to a seven-point lead after a 9-2 run made it 40-33, forcing a Cougar timeout. A balanced scoring attack by Clark, however, kept the visitors in the game as the Cougars would trim Endicott's lead to just one point on four separate occasions.
Clark would finally tie the game at 57-57 with 4:45 on the clock after a Grondin free throw. Whall's free throw down the other end gave Endicott back the lead for the final time. The Gulls would grind out the final minutes of the game with clutch free throws by Whall, Crough, McBrien, White and Nicole Heffernan (Londonderry, N.H.).
Endicott's White was the final Gulls player to score in double figures with 13 points. Nine of her 13 points came on three-point makes as the sophomore added seven rebounds, three assists and a steal to her totals.
Clark's Emily Reilly (Marlborough, Mass.) scored 13 points and Minister added nine points on 3-of-4 from three-point range with seven rebounds and three blocks in the loss.