Kaleigh Anderson (@KaleighAnd1)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College women's basketball team punched their ticket to the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship tournament, finishing second overall in conference action after defeating the visiting Bay Path Wildcats, 89-76, Saturday afternoon at Picknelly arena. With the win the Blazers rise to 15-10 overall and 13-5 in conference action, while Bay Path drops to 3-20 overall while finishing 2-16 in NECC play.
Elms first got on the board with a tally at the stripe off the hands of Marques to get the contest underway. From there, senior Paige Marshall (New Britian, Conn.) retaliatde for the Wildcats securing her first jumper of the day to post the initial advantage. Play would remain back and forth with both squads producing points off the glass to create a tied 6-6 scoreboard at the 5:34 mark. Burr connected from the stripe going 2-for-2 for the Blazers in an attempt to spread out the lead to which sophomore Haleigh Bassett (Miller Falls, Mass.) answered with a jumper from the outside for Bay Path. Sophomore Chaniah Pantry (New Haven, Conn.) proved support from the inside totaling six points in the last minute and sixteen seconds worth of action alongside a freshmen Samantha Lynes (Berlin, Conn.) three point blast to send Elms into the second owning a 19-13 score.
Lynes opened things for Elms in the second, knocking down her second three point bullet of the contest. Overall, Lynes went 5-for-8 from three point range throughout the contest, securing a team high three point percentage. Bay Path connected off of a senior Aaliyah Gordon (Springfield, Mass.) production off the backboard to keep in the running. Sophomore Nakia Mabin (Bridgeport, Conn.) posted back to back layups from Elms in an effort to remain on top enabling the Blazers to head into the halftime period owning a 37-29 scoreboard.
The third period proved to be a challenge for the Blazers as Bay Path outscored Elms, 27-19, in the frame. Starting at the 5:42 margin Bay Path headed a 16-8 run headed by Gordan's six scores. The Blazers were led by junior Mackenzie LaRochelle's (Chicopee, Mass.) six points alongside three assists. On the day, LaRochelle dished out a game-high nine assists for Elms. Despite Blazer efforts the Wildcats were able to creep closer to the victory border ending the quarter trailing by one.
Tensions were high at the start of the fourth with Pantry producing the first tally off the glass for the Blazers in an attempt to widen the gap. Elms harnessed their opportunities from the inside with Pantry totaling 12 points in the quarter from the inside. Lynes proved her dominance on the court as well collecting two more three point explosions to aid in the victory. Despite powerful play from the Wildcats the Blazers were able to nurse their lead to the final buzzer with sophomore Nika Orsaris (Hartford, Conn.) closing out the scoring efforts for the squad with a tally at the stripe in the final seconds of action.
The Blazers were led by double-double efforts by Pantry, Marques and LaRochelle. Pantry registered a career-high 20 points with 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Marques recorded her 16th double-double of the season with a game-high 14 rebounds and 10 points, while LaRochelle fell one assist shy of a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Lynes had a career-day off the bench for the Blazers, netting a career-high 19 points on a career-high five three-pointers with a career-high seven rebounds.
Bay Path was led by Dallas Jackson's game high 28 points, 13 rebounds, and two assists. Senior Brenna Roy (Stafford Springs, Conn.) collected 15 points in the effort shooting 3-for-6 from the floor. Gordan secured 12 points for Bay Path.
The Blazers edged the Wildcats in rebounds (63-46) during the contest, as well as assists (16-6). Elms connected on 44.7% (38-85) from the field and 42.1% (8-19) from the free throw line. Bay Path shot 35.0% (28-80) from the floor and 48.4% (15-31) from the free throw stripe.
The Blazers have earned the second seed in the NECC tournament and will play host to Daniel Webster Tuesday February 21st. Bay Path wrapped up play for the 2016-17 season.