MILTON, Mass. - The Curry College women's basketball team hosted their Senior Night this Wednesday in the Katz gymnasium, but their comeback efforts were squashed by Roger Williams as the Hawks edged the Colonels 57-54 in a tight Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) contest. The loss snaps a three game winning streak for Curry, who now sit at 13-11 on the year with a 9-6 record in the CCC. Roger Williams' overall record also moves to 13-11 while their CCC mark improves to 11-4.
Before the game, Curry took a moment to honor the three seniors of the program, team manager Maria Kotsiopoulos (Framingham, Mass.), and team captains Molly Plunkett (Quincy, Mass.), and Emily Irwin (Billerica, Mass.). Despite having the crowd behind them, Curry struggled to get going offensively, going 0-4 from the floor over the first 4:27 of the contest to sink into a 6-0 hole. Irwin got the scoring started in style however, driving to the basket and drawing the foul, converting the and-1 to quickly cut the Roger Williams lead in half. Curry's offense couldn't capitalize on the spark, however, and fell behind once again by multiple possessions when a pair of converted free throws by sophomore Sam Mancinelli (Peabody, Mass.) made the score 13-6. After putting up just three points over the previous two and a half minutes, Curry's scoring surged as Plunkett got her first points of the day with a three, before another triple was drained by freshman Amanda Leal (Tyngsboro, Mass.) to cut the deficit to one. Defense also played a big role over the final few minutes of the quarter, as Curry surrendered just one point to their visitors over the final 3:01 of the frame, allowing center Peyton Perine to knot the game at 14 as the teams headed into the second quarter.
The teams traded baskets as the second period got underway, as Irwin and Peyton each contributed buckets to the hosts while the Hawks got points from Alexa Grant (Berlin, Conn.) and Karli Opalka (Southbury, Conn.) and the score tied once again at 18 with 7:03 remaining in the half. After another Opalka layup nudged the visitors ahead once more, Leal found Perine beyond the arc and the center banked home a triple to give the Colonels their first lead of the day at 21-20. A jumper by Leal extended the lead to three, but inconsistency set in once more as the hosts missed their next six shots while the Hawks broke off a 10-0 run to go up 30-23. The Colonels defense turned it on once more and kept the Hawks silent from the floor over the final 3:01 of the second quarter as well, allowing just a pair of points as Mancinelli hit another pair from the charity stripe. The Hawks retained a 32-29 lead heading into the intermission, but the Colonels had reason for optimism as they had converted 10 points off of 14 Hawks turnovers in the first half alone.
Curry dug into the lead once more at the onset of the third quarter, as a Perine layup brought the score to 32-31, but neither team managed to take control, as neither team held a lead greater than one possession for more than 30 seconds over the first six minutes of the second half. With 4:04 left on the clock, Margarita Delaporta (Canton, Mass.) managed to draw a foul on Irwin, her third of the day, to get to the line. After a pair of baskets from the stripe, an Opalka layup capped off a five point run for Roger Williams to kick out to a 43-36 lead. Another score from Perine cut into the lead, but Gabby Jerahian (Quincy, Mass.) got to the line twice over the final two minutes of the stanza, hitting three of four shots to send Roger Williams into the fourth quarter with a 46-40 advantage.
The final frame saw a defensive prowess on both sides of the floor, as the teams combined to score just nine points over the first four minutes of action, seven of which came from the free throw line. The Colonels once more saw lengthy possessions thwarted by shots which refused to fall, as the hosts started the quarter 3-11 from the floor, before the captain Irwin collected a rebound on the defensive end and led the charge down the floor, which culminated in a mid-range jumper from the senior guard as she called her own number to bring the game back to within a single possession, cutting the Hawks' lead to 53-50. After three consecutive missed shots by Roger Williams, the Colonels got a boost from their other senior captain, as Plunkett drew a Jerahian foul to head to the stripe, where she split a pair of shots to cut the lead to two. After each team missed a triple and Mancinelli converted another pair at the line, Curry called a timeout down by four with just 22 seconds left to play. Out of the break, Plunkett found Irwin on the inbound who dribbled straight to the arc and drained a three to bring the Colonels back to within a point of their visitors at 55-54. On the ensuing inbound, though, the Hawks kept the ball near Irwin and junior Sam Bamford (Easton, Mass.) who both sat just one foul shy of disqualification. As seconds continued to tick off the clock, Bamford finally bowed to fate, sending Mancinelli to the line as the junior guard fouled out. The sophomore sharp shooter once again converted both of her free opportunities, putting the Hawks up 57-54 with seven seconds remaining. Irwin brought the ball down the court, but it was the Hawks shot to turn up the heat on defense, forcing Irwin to shoot early and off-balance from distance. The Colonels hopes remained alive ever so slightly as the ball found its way out of bounds off of a Hawk, but with 0.2 seconds remaining, a catch-and-shoot chance was not an option, as Roger Williams escaped with the three point victory at 57-54.
Despite the loss, Irwin picked up another double-double, her tenth of the season, registering game highs in points (22), rebounds (13), and assists (7), and a team high in steals (5) on her Senior Night. Fellow senior Plunkett posted four points and three rebounds while contributing a pair of steals and a block, while the freshman Perine poured in 20 points in the loss. Mancinelli led Roger Williams with 18 points, going a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line. Opalka controlled the boards with 12 rebounds, with six offensive and six defensive boards, helping the Hawks out-rebound the Colonels 49-31. Sam Leone (Ashland, Mass.) glowed on the defensive side of the ball with six steals and a pair of blocks.
With just one game remaining in the regular season, the Colonels are now locked into the fifth seed and a road game in the first round of the CCC tournament. Curry closes out their CCC schedule on Saturday, February 16 at 1:00 p.m. at Salve Regina, as the Colonels look to replicate the results of their January 3 tilt with the Seahawks which saw Curry come out on top, 76-70. Roger Williams returns to action to close their slate with a home match up against Western New England, also on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., as they attempt to avoid the season sweep after falling to the Golden Bears 54-52 in Springfield, Mass. on November 28.