CHICOPEE, Mass. – Elms College freshman forward Denisha Parks (Fall River, Mass.) scored a game-high 25 points and added a game-best 19 rebounds to lift the second-seeded Blazers to a 62-51 victory over No. 7 Bay Path College in Tuesday evening's New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship tournament quarterfinal women's basketball game at Picknelly Arena.
With the win, Elms improves to 18-8 overall and advances to the NECC Championship semifinals to face No. 3 Newbury College which topped sixth-seeded Mitchell College, 89-59. Bay Path concludes its season 6-17 overall.
Parks connected on 9 of 14 shots to lead the Blazers, including 7 of 9 from the free throw line, while 13 of her 19 rebounds came on the offensive glass, helping Elms net 15 second-chance points. Parks has now totaled 494 points this season to set a new Elms single-season mark in that category.
With Elms clinging to a two-point, 27-25 lead at intermission, Parks scored the first basket of the second half before Bay Path's Symone Watson (Hamden, Conn.) and Kayla Skiffington (East Longmeadow, Mass.) registered back-to-back layups to knot the game at 29-29 with 18:05 to play in the game.
Parks answered with a pair of layups and senior forward Erika Murphy (Torrington, Conn.) converted a basket underneath to extend Elms' lead back to six at 35-29 at the 16:12 mark.
A Skiffington layup with 14:47 to play narrowed the Wildcats' deficit back to two (35-33) before a run of six-straight points capped by a layup by junior guard Jennifer Normandie (Westford, Mass.) gave the Blazers their largest lead of the half to that point (41-33) with 11:47 on the clock.
Bay Path responded with an 8-2 run of its own highlighted by a trey from Brittney Alexander (Enfield, Conn.) to pull the Wildcats to within two at 43-41 with 7:41 to play.
Normandie then delivered a bucket in the paint and converted the ensuing free throw to complete the three-point play to spark a 12-4 run that also featured a deep three-pointer by senior guard Carolyn Talmadge (Wilbraham, Mass.) to set the score at 55-45 with just over five minutes remaining in the contest.
Bay Path battled back to within six (55-49) on a Skiffington layup with 3:23, but the Wildcats could get no closer as Parks added a layup and Murphy connected on 5 of 6 from the free throw line over the final 2:45 to help Elms close out a hard-fought 62-51 win.
Murphy and Talmadge finished with 14 and 13 points respectively, while Murphy added seven boards in the winning effort.
Talmadge also handed out six assists, sophomore guard Ellen Donohue (Southington, Conn.) dished out five assists of her own, and sophomore guard Emily Boucher (Ashburnham, Mass.) came away with five steals.
Skiffington was sensational in the loss for the Wildcats, hitting on 11 of 18 from the field en route to a team-high 23 points and added a team-best 16 rebounds.
Toni Alexander (Enfield, Conn.) dished out seven assists, recorded six steals and finished with 11 points, while Brittney Alexander followed with six points and eight boards.
The Wildcats shot 41.8-percent from the floor and battled back from a nine-point deficit midway through the first half to set the score at 27-25 after the first 20 minutes of play.