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Women's Basketball Reaches Tip-Off Final

Thomas R. Karlo -- The Tech
Captain C. J. Doane '95 shoots from outside during MIT's game against Simmons College in the first round of the Engineer Tip-Off Classic.

By Farhan Zaidi
Staff Reporter

The Salve Regina Newporters, behind a stellar 20-point, 16-rebound performance from tournament MVP Nichole Johnson, defeated the Engineers, 7869 in the championship game of the women's basketball Tip-Off Classic at Rockwell Cage this past weekend.

The two teams had advanced to the championship game of the four-team, single elimination tournament by defeating Wentworth Institute of Technology and Simmons College, respectively in first-round action Saturday.

In the first game on Saturday, the Newporters exploded on a 193 run to open the second half on their way to a convincing 6144 win over the WIT Leopards. The game's first half favored the Leopards, who, behind a dominating 16-point, 11-rebound first-half performance by Kim McCabe, staked to a 2321 lead at the break.

However, the Newporters adjusted defensively and held McCabe scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the second half, stifling the Leopard offense and sparking a 277 run over that duration.

With the score at 4830, McCabe finally scored inside but the basket was followed by a spectacular 110 run by Salve Regina that put the game out of reach.

The Engineers, meanwhile, dominated from the beginning against Simmons College Sharks in Saturday's second game, racing out to a 207 lead behind the savvy passing and court leadership of Sarah Davis '97, and the outside shooting of Nicole Gerrish '98.

Then, coming out of the half with a 3018 lead, MIT went on a 91 run sparked by a remarkable shooting display by C.J. Doane '95. Doane nailed two perimeter shots and a 3-pointer during the run to give the Engineers an 18-point advantage.

The Sharks were able to cut the lead to 10 at 4333, but then a comeback-killing 3-point play by Kristin Ratliff '95 effectively ended the Sharks' hopes of advancing.

The final score was 5647, as Davis, Gerrish, and Doane combined for 45 of MIT's points, with Davis adding five rebounds and eight assists in a well-rounded effort.

On advancing to the finals, MIT coach Sue Rowe noted that the team had "hustled and played together," and that she was "pleased with their effort."

On the prospect of facing Salve Regina in the finals, she noted that the Engineers would have to clamp down and "slow [the Newporters] down to a half-court game," pointing out that Salve Regina had won its first game with the help of an effective transition game.

Championship Game

Early in Sunday's championship game, the Engineers were successful in accomplishing this, controlling the tempo by pounding the ball inside on offense and using an effective trapping defense at the other end to build a 106 lead. The Newporters, however, sparked by point guard Jill St. Germain, came back to tie the game at 12.

After a dry spell in which both teams were frustrated offensively, MIT went on a 10-point run to build a 2618 lead. The rally was sparked by Amy Mackay '98, who scored three inside baskets and a 3-point play for 9 of the 10 points during the stretch.

Once again, the Newporters came back, this time behind the inside play of Johnson as they took a 2726 lead after a 9-point run of their own. The half ended with MIT's Davis being fouled with no time left and hitting two free throws to give the Engineers a 3029 edge going into the break.

The second half opened with a quick start for the Engineers, as Doane's all-around play helped them build a 4-point lead in the early going. However, a big 3-pointer by Newporter Nichole Riley gave Salve Regina back the lead at 3837, and for most of the remaining time, the teams stayed close, handing the lead back and forth numerous times.

Then, with under three minutes remaining, Salve Regina forged ahead 6054 after a basket by Kerry Ceurvels. The Engineers, however, closed out regulation with a gutsy 60 run which sent the game to overtime. Highlighting the run was a brilliant penetrating basket by Doane, and a putback by Ratliff with under 20 seconds left, to tie the game.

Game goes into overtime

The overtime period began with St. Germain mistakenly scoring on the MIT basket to give the Engineers a 6260 lead, but Salve Regina controlled the rest of the game. With Doane and Davis fouling out, the Engineers struggled to produce on the offensive end, while Johnson and St. Germain supplied scoring punch for the Newporters. The Engineers were able to cut what was once an 8-point lead down to 3 with under a minute left, but the Newporters finished the game with six consecutive free throws to close the scoring at 7869.

Earlier Sunday in the consolation game, the WIT Leopards defeated the Simmons Sharks 5242, with McCabe and Becky Morris leading the way. Morris led the Leopards to a 4-point halftime lead with 12 points and 9 rebounds by the break, while McCabe picked up in the second half, scoring 6 points early on to thrust the Leopard lead into double digits.

Named to the All-Tournament team were WIT's McCabe, Simmons' Mary Schneider, Salve Regina's St. Germain, and MIT's Gerrish and Mackay.