BOSTON, Mass. - Four players scored in double-figures to lead No. 2 Emmanuel College past No. 7 Curry College, 63-53, in the Quarterfinal round of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Women's Basketball Championship Wednesday evening in the Jean Yawkey Center Gymnasium. The Saints improve to 19-10 on the year while the loss ends Curry's season with a 17-12 mark.
Early in the second half action, Curry senior guard Kylie Beltz (Pequot Lakes, Minn.) finished a left handed layup to make it 36-24 and with the hoop, became the all-time leading scorer in Curry College women's basketball history. Entering the game, Beltz was tied for the scoring crown with Debbi L'Italien ('85) with 1,460 career points before setting the record. Beltz finished the game with five points for a total of 1,465.
The Colonels jumped out to a 2-0 lead after junior center Shannon Griffith (West Hartford, Conn.) scored off the opening tip but the Saints would go on to hold Curry scoreless over the next eight minutes to build a 10-2 lead.
A three by Curry freshman guard Brianna Hoffman (Milford, N.H.) pulled the visitors to within three at 12-9 midway through the first half of play to make it a one possession game but Emmanuel responded with a 12-2 run fueled by six points from junior guard Sarah Higgins (Groveland, Mass.) to extend the lead to 24-11 with just over five minutes to play in the half.
A layup by sophomore forward Alexis Ezell (Acworth, Ga.) gave the Saints their largest lead of the half with 1:55 to play, bumping the lead to 15 points at 32-17 before the Colonels closed out the half scoring the final three points to account for a 32-20 halftime score.
At the break, Emmanuel was 12-13 from the free throw line and held a 28-21 rebounding margin.
A turnaround jumper by Emmanuel sophomore forward Jen Chalk (Horseheads, N.Y.) extended the EC lead to 46-32 with 11:50 to play but a quick 5-0 spurt by the Colonels pulled Curry within single digits at 46-37 with 10:59 remaining. After an Emmanuel timeout, another Chalk basket put the lead back to double-figures at 48-37 but the Colonels answered immediately with a three by Beltz to account for a 48-40 score.
The Colonels continued to hang around and a three by junior guard Kerry White (Windham, N.H.) cut the lead to 50-43. White would hit a pair of free throws to keep it a seven point contest at 54-47 with less than six to play in regulation. With 3:05 to play, a put back hoop by freshman center Nicole Rice (Woburn, Mass.) pulled Curry to five at 56-51, their smallest deficit since the 8:44 marker of the first half.
A huge three from the top of the key by Higgins bumped the Saints lead back to eight (59-51) to make it a three possession game and on their next offensive set, it was Higgins who finished a jumper in the lane to give Emmanuel a comfortable 61-51 lead with 1:15 left to play. The Saints would hold on for the 63-53 win.
EC senior Vanessa Bramante (Stoneham, Mass.) led the way with a team-high 14 points while Higgins added 14 points. Senior Jennifer Bujnowski (Salem, N.H.) also scored 14 points to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds for a double-double while Azell finished with 10 points in the win.
Curry senior forward Jeanette Fallon (Nashua, N.H.) paced the Colonels with a game-high 19 points, connecting on 11 of 15 from the free throw line.
The Saints advance to the ECAC Semifinal and will play No. 6 Brandeis University who upset No. 3 Roger Williams, 63-44, earlier today. Game time and location have yet to be determined. (Recap courtesy of Emmanuel Sports Info)