HOLYOKE, Mass. – Mitchell College held off a late charge in the final minute of a 74-66 victory over Bay Path College on Saturday afternoon in New England Collegiate Conference women's basketball action at HCC-Brantley Arena.
The Mariners led by 10 points with a minute left to play, but the Wildcats stormed back to cut the deficit to three over a 20-second span. Mitchell, however, regained its composure and closed out the game from the free throw line, going 5-for-6 from the stripe in the final 16 seconds.
Mitchell won its third straight game and improved to 4-8 overall and 3-3 in conference play. Freshman Sheanna James led all scorers with 24 points and added a team-high 14 rebounds. Senior Bianca Young also notched a double-double with 17 points and 11 boards while freshman Zilka Navarro chipped in with 21 points and six assists.
Bay Path (2-7 overall, 2-3 NECC) was led by junior Brittney Alexander with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Freshmen Je'Quana Orr and Toni Alexander also scored in double figures with 14 and 11 points, respectively, while sophomore Kayla Skiffington pulled down a game-high 19 rebounds.
Bay Path led 6-2 in the early stages before Mitchell seized momentum and took the lead for good behind a 25-1 run. All five Mitchell starters scored during the spurt, with James leading the way with 10 points. The Mariners led by as many as 22 points in the stanza and shot 39 percent for the half.
The Wildcats struggled to find their shot for the majority of the half, missing 24 straight attempts before Orr buried a three-pointer with 5:18 to go in the half. The shot got Bay Path back on track, and it scored 14 more points before the halftime buzzer to cut the deficit to 39-26 at intermission.
Bay Path inched to within four points in the early moments of the second half, but Mitchell stayed in front and eventually built the margin back to double digits. The Mariners led 69-59 with under a minute to play in regulation when the Wildcats made their final surge. Sophomore Taylor Riley started things off with a lay-up, and a steal by junior Nicole Delano resulted in a quick basket by Orr to cut the margin to six.
Another Mitchell turnover on the ensuing play yielded a lay-up and for Brittney Alexander, and she made the basket and was fouled on the play. She drained the freebie to make it 69-63 with 29 seconds remaining, capping a stretch where the Wildcats scored seven points in 20 seconds.
Navarro righted the ship for the Mariners, making a pair of free throws with 16 seconds to play and adding another with five to go. As a team, Mitchell went 21-for-27 from the free throw line in the contest. Bay Path shot only 8-for-21 from the charity stripe.
Mitchell will next host Lesley University on Tuesday, January 17 at 5 p.m.