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Women's Basketball Defeats Mount Holyoke 54-51

Indranath Neogy--The Tech
Katie Spayde '99 makes a free throw to seal MIT's 54-51 victory against Mount Holyoke Collee Saturday afternoon in Rockwell Cage. See Story, page 27.

By Erik S. Balsley
sports editor

The women's basketball team edged out Mount Holyoke College Saturday 5451 to finish regular season play with their best conference record since the New England Women's Eight Conference was established.

The Engineers came out to an early lead over Mount Holyoke midway through the first half. However, Mount Holyoke began to play more aggressively and had earned a 3127 lead by halftime.

After halftime, the Engineers refocused and began to chip away at the Mount Holyoke lead. As the second half drew to a close, MIT began to play with more intensity, just as Mount Holyoke became unzipped. The Engineers played a more aggressive offensive game to keep the ball on Mount Holyoke's half of the court for a large portion of the second half.

In addition, the team stepped up their defensive play in the second half to prevent Mount Holyoke from scoring. While the Lyons scored 31 points in the first half, they were limited to 20 in the second.

The Mount Holyoke lead was gradually chiseled away in the opening minutes of the second half. With 6:29 left in the game, team co-captain Amy MacKay '97 scored to tie the score at 4747. Less than a minute later, center Katie Spayde '99 put in another basket to put the Engineers ahead by two at 4947. A Mount Holyoke foul then sent Mary Romano '00 to the line where she sank the free throw to edge MIT ahead, 5047.

With less than six minutes left in the game, the MIT lead was still not secured. Mount Holyoke's strong forward Emily McNutt sunk a shot to narrow the Engineers' lead to 5049 with 4:31 left. Spayde answered with another basket with 3:09 left to increase the Engineers margin by two.

As the minutes ticked away, the Engineers worked to keep their two-point lead. However, with 1:06 left, Mount Holyoke sank another shot to make it a one-point game, 5251.

With such a tight game, composure was the key to success. As the pressure mounted, Mount Holyoke became unglued and began to play more sloppily. Despite calling two timeouts within the last 37 seconds of the game, the Lyons could not keep it together to the end.

Katie Spayde was fouled twice with 17 seconds left on the game clock. She sank one of two from the line. Four seconds later, another foul sent her back to the line where she sank the free throw to seal the 5451 victory.

The team played well against a much improved Mount Holyoke team from last year, said Assistant Sports Information Director for Special Events Jean A. Heiney. The teams both had the same number of rebounds, with 44, and both had similar field goal percentages with .344 for Mount Holyoke and .352 for MIT.

In addition to Spadye's impressive 13-point performance, the team had strong performances from Vicki Best '99 (12 points), team co-captain Sarah Davis '97 (11 points), and MacKay (8 points).

With the win, the Engineers finish the regular season with a 1110 record and a 34 NEW 8 record. The Mount Holyoke win gives the women added momentum as they head into their postseason. They will be facing Wheaton College at home in the first round of the NEW 8 playoffs tonight at 7 p.m. in Rockwell Cage.