Milton, Mass. – The Curry College women's basketball team held on against a charging Western New England (WNE) team to lock up another Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) victory. The win improves the Colonels' overall record to 8-7 while their league record moves to 5-2. The Golden Bears fall to 9-6 overall on the year with a 4-4 mark in league play.
Curry took to the scoreboard first, as a three-pointer by senior Molly Plunkett (Quincy, Mass.) fell to give the hosts an early advantage. However, WNE showed no signs of backing down, as they potted a pair of layups within the first minute of play. The teams went back-and-forth over the first five minutes of the first frame, until a layup by freshman center Peyton Perine (Fairfax, Va.), on which she was fouled, put Curry up by a score of 9-8, but she would miss the free throw. This started a brief run for Curry, which included baskets by Sam Bamford (Easton, Mass.) and Amanda Leal (Tyngsboro, Mass.). WNE would remain close, however, and over the final 1:36 of the first quarter ran off a 6-0 run of their own to take a 20-15 lead into the break.
The second quarter began similar to the first, as the teams traded points throughout the early stages of the frame. With 6:37 left to play in the half, a jumper from sophomore Emily Scurka (Billerica, Mass.) returned the visitors lead to three, but it would not stay intact for long, as a pair of driving layups from senior guard Emily Irwin (Billerica, Mass.), split by a Golden Bears free throw, knotted the score at 25 all. Each team would score once more before the half ended with nine consecutive missed shots. Though the Colonels did not lead in the second period, a strong defensive effort surrendered just seven points in the frame to head to the locker rooms tied at 27.
The Colonels scored first out of the break thanks to a Plunkett free throw, but WNE was able to bear down following this score. Over the ensuing five minutes, the Golden Bears jumped on a 10-2 streak which not only retook the lead but stretched it to seven. A layup from Leal followed by a pair of free throws from Irwin cut the Curry deficit to three, but with just 2:20 remaining in the third. Irwin's pair of points were her ninth and tenth of the night, which, going along with the 11 rebounds she had already collected to that point, secured her fourth consecutive double-double. Though the hosts came close, another pair of free throws coupled with a triple from Hannah Zirkel (Westbury, N.Y.) sent the Golden Bears into the final period with a 42-34 advantage, after their defense returned the favor and gave up just seven points to the Colonels in the third.
Curry scored first in the quarter once again, this time on a Perine layup, but their fifth team foul of the half would lead to more WNE shots from the charity stripe, which brought the visitors' lead back to eight. This matched their largest lead of the night, with 8:56 left on the clock in regulation. Curry fought back fiercely, as a basket by the captain, Irwin, would spark a 14-2 run, which tied the game at 44 thanks to a Plunkett triple, then extended a Curry lead to 50-44 following a basket in the paint by Leal. During the run, the Colonels were also able to induce back-to-back fouls on WNE starter Meghan Gilhool (Montrose, Pa.), which left her with four on the day and in danger of fouling out. The Golden Bears reached for the comeback, but the hosts shooed away their efforts, continually extending the lead back to six points. The buzzer eventually sounded and the Colonels put their 58-52 victory into the books, thanks largely in part to sound free throw shooting by Perine and Bamford, who converted all of Curry's final six attempts from the line.
Perine topped the box score with a game-high 20 points on the day, while her teammate Bamford put up an impressive defensive effort with four steals. Joining Perine in double digits were junior Meghan Orbann (East Hampton, Conn.), with 14, and Irwin, with 17, who also posted game highs with seven assists and a career-high 16 total boards. Orbann led the Golden Bears and registered a double-double thanks to her 12 rebounds, while classmate Emily Farrell (New Fairfield, Conn.) topped the team with four helpers. Also worth noting are the defensive efforts of Sidney Fisher (Strafford, N.H.) who pulled down 10 boards for WNE, and Colonels' freshman Zuquila Mbachiantim (Stratford, Conn.), who set season highs in offensive, defensive, and total rebounds (3-4-7), as well as steals (2).
Curry will play next on Wednesday, January 16 at 5:30 p.m. at home versus CCC foe Wentworth. WNE will also resume action on Wednesday the 16th, as they host Trinity College (Conn.) at home at 6:00 P.M. in a non-conference match-up. The Colonels will again face the Golden Bears early next month in Springfield, Mass. on Saturday, February 2 at 1:00 p.m. for WNE's home half of the season series.