Allie Rooney '16 Sports Editor
With the possibility of a playoff bid lurking, the basketball team pulled off a huge win on Saturday, Feb. 7 against fellow New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference opponent Worcester Polytechnic Institute. While five of Smith’s eight scoring players had at least eight points a piece, it was truly a team effort.
The Pioneers found themselves down 23-27 at halftime against a very strong WPI squad which now boasts a 7-5 NEWMAC record. A second half rally, led by senior captain Lauren Weston — who led the team with 16 points herself — proved to be just what Smith needed to improve to a 3-9 conference record. Weston’s final two points of the game with 24 seconds left to play ended up giving Smith the 58-57 victory over the Engineers.
Weston remarked on the final minute of the game: “During the last minute of the game, it was really just one of those things that feels good coming through for my team, especially as a senior. And then being able to work as a team in the remainder of that final minute to lock up on defense to secure the win with everyone focusing on a common goal.”
This game was not the first close finish the Pioneers have experienced recently. Their three previous losses were only by a combined 11 points; a four-point loss to reigning NEWMAC champions Springfield College, a five-point loss to NEWMAC opponent Emerson College, and a heartbreaking two-point loss to cross-town rival Mount Holyoke College two weeks ago.
Weston said of the tough stretch for the Pioneers, “Winning against WPI means that we feel we’ve hit the turning point in our season. The last five or so games have been losses by anywhere from one to five points so beating WPI kind of signals that we have learned how to finish close games and get a win.”
To go along with Weston’s 16 points, classmates Meghan Holland ’18, Samantha Alakai ’18 and Paige Marquez ’18 all had nine points. Holland also grabbed eight rebounds for the Pioneers. Alyssa Barrett ’15 chipped in with eight points for the victory.
Smith will look to use the momentum from this win to continue to vie for a playoff spot. The Pioneers have four remaining conference games on their schedule, including another match between WPI later this month. Weston added, “It feels great to get a win. It feels great to build our confidence as a team knowing that we are good enough to play with the good teams, and to beat them.”
Smith will host Trinity College on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in Ainsworth Gymnasium as well as Babson College on Saturday, Feb. 14.