BABSON PARK, Mass.—Sophomores Kristen Ferola (Amherst, Mass.) and Linnett Graber (Roseland, N.J.) combined for 33 points, including three free throws in the final 35 seconds, helping Babson College hold off Clark University, 68-65, in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's basketball action on Saturday afternoon at Staake Gymnasium.
With its fifth straight win Babson moves to 7-7 overall and 7-3 in conference play, while Clark drops to 6-9 overall and 3-7 in the NEWMAC.
Graber posted her first career double-double, leading all players with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Ferola contributed 15 points, eight boards and a game-high six assists for the Beavers. Junior Lindsey Roche (Arlington, Mass.) and sophomore Jess Coelho (Westport, Conn.) each chipped in with 10 points.
The Cougars were led by senior Emily Reilly (Marlborough, Mass.) who scored 11 of her 14 points after halftime. First-year Aretha Sullivan (Worcester, Mass.) chipped in with 10 points and senior Esther Cohn (Chapel Hill, N.C.) added nine points and nine rebounds.
Babson led 39-23 at halftime after shooting 46.7 percent from the floor and scoring 20 points in the paint. Clark outscored the Beavers 30-14 over the first 12-plus minutes of the second half, making 12-of-22 shots from the field and forcing the hosts into nine turnovers, to pull even at 53-53 with 7:46 left in the game.
The Green and White responded with seven straight points over the 1:17 , getting four from Graber and a three-pointer from Roche, to take a 60-53 lead with 6:29 to go. The hosts were still up seven with 2:43 remaining in the game before the Cougars rallied, getting a layup by Reilly, two free throws from senior Ashleigh Condon (Hull, Mass.), and a game-tying three pointer from sophomore Brook Brennan (Weston, Mass.) to make it 65-65 with 53 seconds left to play.
Graber was fouled with 35 seconds left and knocked down her first free throw to put the Beavers back in front 66-65. She missed the second, but Ferola grabbed the offensive rebound and buried two free throws after being fouled to grab a three-point edge.
Brennan missed a three-pointer and Reilly was unable to get her putback to go on Clark's next trip down the court, but Babson missed a pair of free throws, giving the visitors one more crack at tying the game. The Cougars were unable to get off a tying three-pointer though, instead settling for a shot inside the arc that was no good, helping the Green and White escape with a victory.
Babson struggled early, missing its first six shots and committing six early turnovers. Ferola finally hit the team's first field goal at the 12:53 mark, sparking a 14-2 run as the Beavers scored on six of their next seven possessions to build a 20-12 lead midway through the first half.
Coelho scored eight of her career-high 10 points in the opening stanza on 4-of-5 shooting and Babson used a 9-3 run, thanks to four points from first-year Giovanna Pickering (Hull, Mass.) and three from senior Erin Young (Westwood, Mass.) to take its biggest lead of the game at 39-20 with 28 seconds left before halftime.
The Beavers shot 45.1 percent (23-for-51) on the afternoon and had a 44-29 advantage on the backboards. The Green and White also outscored the Cougars 32-28 in the paint and 17-6 on second-chance opportunities.
Both teams return to action on Sunday afternoon as Babson travels to Coast Guard for a 1 p.m. tipoff, while Clark hosts Smith at 2 p.m.
GAME NOTES: The all-time series between Babson and Clark is now deadlocked at 21-21…The Beavers have won 11 straight meetings against the Cougars since 2008…Babson has won six straight games when leading at halftime, and is 5-1 on the year when scoring 65 points or more…The Beavers have won six consecutive games against NEWMAC foes going back to December 7.