BABSON PARK, Mass.—The Babson College women's basketball team managed its fourth-highest point total of the winter but fell just short of host Clark, 74-72, in both teams' New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season finale in the Kneller Athletic Center Saturday afternoon.
With the loss, the Beavers fall to 13-12 overall and 12-8 in league play. Babson locks up the fifth seed in next week's NEWMAC Tournament and will play its first league tourney game away from Staake Gymnasium for the first time since 2009. Clark finishes its season at 11-14 and 8-12.
Babson first-year Giovanna Pickering (Hull, Mass.) went 7-for-15 from the field and 5-for-7 at the charity stripe to finish with a team-high 19 points and game-best seven assists. Junior captain Erin Young (Westwood, Mass.) chipped in with 14 points, knocking down four treys in 23 minutes off the bench, while sophomore Linnett Graber (Roseland, N.J.) turned in a double-double performance with 10 points and 10 boards.
For the hosts, senior Emily Reilly (Marlborough, Mass.) led all scorers and rebounders with 20 points and 14 boards. Classmate Ashleigh Condon (Hull, Mass.) made all seven of her free throws for 16 points, first-year Aretha Sullivan (Worcester, Mass.) contributed 13 points as a reserve, and senior Esther Cohn (Chapel Hill, N.C.) pulled down 10 rebounds.
Three different Green and White players combined for the game's first eight points, as Clark failed to convert its first basket until the 12:36 mark of the opening half. A Pickering jumper at 8:07 made the score 17-8 in Babson's favor before the Cougars used a 16-0 run over 5:24 to take a 24-17 advantage with 3:40 on the clock. Young's second triple of the half brought the Beavers to within one at the intermission.
Four ties and 10 lead changes to start a back-and-forth second half was capped by a Reilly three at 6:16 that provided the hosts with a 58-56 edge and a lead they would not relinquish. Reilly's lay-in with 1:30 remaining stretched Clark's lead to 73-66 before a last-ditch effort by the Beavers made things interesting in the final minute of play.
Six straight Babson points during a 32-second spurt, which was capped by a Pickering conventional three-point play, made the score 73-72 with 47 ticks left. Following a Cougar miss, the Beavers gained possession but a missed layup at the eight-second mark gave the ball back to Clark. The Cougars hit 1-of-2 free throws to push their lead out to two and Babson was given one final opportunity to either force overtime or win the game in regulation, but a last-second three-point attempt was off the mark.
The reigning five-time NEWMAC Tournament champion Beavers will travel to fourth seed Wellesley College for a first-round game beginning at 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Saturday's loss snapped the Beavers 11-game winning streak against Clark, which now owns a 22-21 in the all-time series…Babson is now 5-1 on the season when scoring 70 points or more…the Beavers are 3-5 in games decided by five points or less and 8-3 when holding their opponent under 40 percent shooting…Graber has reached double figures in scoring in 11 of the last 13 games…Pickering has been in double figures six times in the last seven contests and is shooting 46.4 percent during that stretch.