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Women Overpower Springfield

Basketball Holds on to Defeat Conference Leaders at 75-68

By Melissa Hart

TEAM COACH

The women’s basketball team went up against the number one ranked Springfield Pride in an exciting battle Saturday and came away with a 75-68 win. Although MIT led throughout the game, the Pride kept the game close and the packed Rockwell Cage crowd on their toes. With the win, MIT became the top team in the New England Men’s and Women’s Conference (NEWMAC).

The teams remained close in the first half. The Engineers’ lead fell anywhere between five and twelve points throughout. MIT led 33-28 at the half.

The Pride came out fired up and physical in the second half and closed the lead to three right away. MIT built the lead back up time and time again to see Springfield chip back away at it and close it to five before the cycle would repeat.

MIT remained composed and weathered a scoring drought (and some questionable referee judgments) with solid defense and pure hustle to keep a high scoring Springfield squad from taking advantage.

Facing a 10-point deficit late in the game, Springfield was forced to intentionally foul MIT, and the officials were finally forced to send a number of MIT players to the free-throw line.

The team, which has been working diligently to improve its free-throw shooting, was ready for the moment. “Go ahead, foul us” was the attitude as player after player sank her foul shots, which proved the most crucial part of the game as Springfield sank bomb after three point bomb in those waning moments (four out of six threes in the last two minutes).

MIT held on to the lead thanks to 85 percent accuracy from the line. Four MIT starters were in double figures as Cristina Estrada ’01 led MIT with 21 points, five rebounds and four blocks, Rayna B. Zacks ’04 had 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out five assists, and Megan C. Daugherty ’03 and Crystal A. Russell ’03 added 14 points each.

Prior to their loss, Springfield stood alone on top of the NEWMAC, but MIT’s win puts the Engineers on top of the conference at 5-1. Springfield is the only other team to have only one loss, but because it is to MIT, they drop to second.

MIT will play three more conference games over the next two weeks to defend their first place spot and the opportunity to host the Conference Championship (first place hosts).

MIT stands at 16-5 overall and will next face conference opponent WPI on Saturday in Rockwell at 2:00 p.m.

Gordon faces unfriendly defense

Women’s basketball did away with a solid Gordon College basketball team on Thursday night by a score of 62-42. Led by outstanding defense from captain Eboney Smith ’01, MIT’s high pressure defense came up with 20 team steals and decided the game early.

Rookies Zacks and Maria E. Hidalgo ’04 teamed up for a scorching 57 percent from the floor, tallying 27 points (17 and 10 respectively) between them.

The biggest difference in the Engineers’ last non-conference match-up of the season came in those intangibles that cannot be shown on the statistic sheet: desire, hunger, and hustle. Zacks passed the MIT freshmen rebounding record--no great surprise as she has been ranked nationally all season for her work on the boards.

MIT defeats Coast Guard

The Engineers had to travel to New London, Conn. to face frustrating Big Dig traffic and Coast Guard Basketball on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Always a tough opponent at home, Coast Guard came out strong looking for their first conference win and an upset.

The game was fast-paced and as it wore on, the Coast Guard Cadets tired from MIT’s relentless push up and down the court.

Though the Cadets were undoubtedly fit, MIT boasts its own armed weapon in Russell and for forty minutes of play (the whole game), she never tired of leading the charge to pick apart Coast Guard’s defense, nor shutting down their offense. Russell connected on various occasions with Estrada (17 points) and Coast Guard could not stop Estrada despite their hard efforts.

Frosh duo Hidalgo and Zacks were next in scoring with 15 and 10 points respectively. Zacks was a rebounding terror with 14 boards, including eight off the offensive glass.

Daugherty and Dwan C. Riddick ’03 stepped up defensively to limit Coast Guard’s talented offensive threat, Tessa Mueller.

Coast Guard attempted a final surge by fouling the Engineers in hopes of a late comeback, but the strategy proved fruitless as MIT hit their free throws and the game pulled more out of reach for the home squad.

The final horn sounded and MIT prevailed 67-49 in a game that, though MIT always led, was closer than the score may indicate.