Blinstrub Notches 500th Win as Babson Downs Bridgewater State, 68-59, in NCAA First Round Action
AMHERST, Mass. –- Head coach Judy Blinstrub recorded her 500th career victory as her Babson College Beavers held off a resilient Bridgewater State University team, 68-59, in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship Tournament at Amherst College's LeFrak Gymnasium on Friday night.
Senior captain Nicki Wurdeman (Rowley, Mass.) scored a game-high 27 points and pulled down 11 rebounds – including the 1,000th of her illustrious career – as Babson (26-2) advanced to the second round for the third straight season. The Beavers will take on the winner of Amherst and Saint Joseph's College-Brooklyn on Saturday at 8 p.m. as they seek their third consecutive trip to the sectionals.
With the loss, the Bears see their brilliant 2011-12 season come to a close with a record of 19-8. Bridgewater was making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, third in the last five years and seventh overall.
Wurdeman led all scorers with 27 points – 20 of which came in the first half. The senior captain and two-time All-American shot 10-for-14 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free throw line while also adding 11 boards. Her sixth rebound of the night, which came with 4:19 left in the first half, was the 1,000th of her magnificent career. She is only the fourth person in program history to reach the 1,000-rebound mark, only the third to surpass both 1,000 points and 1,000 boards, and she is the only player in Babson history with more than 1,000 rebounds and 2,000 points.
Joining Wurdeman with a double-double for the Beavers was junior center Sarah Collins (Weymouth, Mass.), who shot 7-of-13 from the floor to finish with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocked shots. Senior captain Kathleen King (Framingham, Mass.) added 10 points, six rebounds, and five assists, as she moved past program legend Judy Pearson '85 into third place on Babson's all-time scoring list, and junior point guard Allanah Wynn (Quincy, Mass.) contributed nine points, three rebounds, three assists, and four steals. The Beavers survived 26 turnovers – their second-highest single-game total this season – by shooting 55.1 percent (27-49) from the field and amassing a 43-26 rebound advantage.
Bridgewater State was paced by senior Shelly DePina (New Bedford, Mass.), who scored 19 points on 4-of-9 shooting from long range to go with six rebounds and three steals. As a result, she will graduate in fourth place on the Bears' all-time scoring list with 1,162 points and third with 698 boards. She was joined in double-figures by sophomore Jenna Williamson (Ludlow, Mass.), who finished with 14 points, four caroms, and four steals. Junior Michaela Cosby (Walpole, Mass.) overcame a tough shooting night to finish with eight points while wreaking havoc on the defensive end with a season-high eight steals.
Babson opened the game with a 9-2 burst behind five early points from Wurdeman, but BSU answered with five unanswered to make it 9-7 with 14:30 left in the opening period. Following a timeout, the Beavers then rattled off 10 straight points, including eight more by Wurdeman, to build a 19-7 advantage with 10:43 to go in the half.
The Bears eventually pulled back to within seven after a trifecta by senior Ciara Shaughnessy (Lowell, Mass.) made it 26-19 with six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the opening session, but five straight points from Wurdeman sparked a 9-0 burst that extended the Babson advantage to 35-19 with under two minutes left.
A driving lay-up by Cosby and a three-pointer by DePina fueled a 5-0 Bridgewater State run to close the first half, but Babson surged again to start the second, opening with a 9-5 run to go up 44-29 following a Wurdeman lay-up with 15:24 to go in the game. The Beavers eventually led by as many as 19 after a three by sophomore Liz Trainor (Beverly, Mass.) pushed the advantage to 57-38 with just under eight minutes left.
Refusing to go quietly, Bridgewater State turned up its defensive pressure to claw its way back into the contest. A three-pointer by DePina with 5:20 left in regulation capped a 7-0 spurt that turned a 59-42 Babson cushion into just a 10-point lead at 59-49.
With her team's advantage dwindling, Babson sophomore guard Caitlin O'Connell (Framingham, Mass.) came off the bench and hit a huge jumper from the right wing to make it 61-49. After DePina hit one-of-two from the line, the Bears forced yet another Beaver turnover and had a chance to make it an eight-point game when Williamson sized up an open three from the top of the key, but her shot attempt just missed and Wurdeman secured the rebound. Collins would then convert a lay-up off a nice entry pass from King at the other end, extending the Babson lead to 13, 63-50, with 3:20 left to play.
That swing would prove critical down the stretch, as the Beavers maintained a double-digit advantage until the final 25 seconds. With Babson leading by 12 at 66-45, Cosby hit a turn-around jumper in the lane to make it a 10-point affair at the one-minute mark, and DePina followed a Babson miss with her fourth trifecta of the night to cut her team's deficit to just seven, 66-59, with 24.9 seconds to go. However, that would prove to be as close as the Bears would get, as King and Wurdeman each converted one-of-two from the line in the closing seconds as Babson held on for the hard-fought 68-59 victory.
A member of the Athletics Hall of Fame at both Bridgewater State and Babson, Blinstrub becomes just the 17th coach in NCAA Division III women's basketball history to reach the 500-win mark - of which 14 are still active. The milestone win is her second against her alma mater, as Bridgewater State was also the victim of her 400th victory back on December 4, 2008.