Becker edges Newbury, advances to NECC Semis

LEICESTER, Mass. --- The Becker College women's basketball team won 57-50 over visiting Newbury College in the quarterfinals of the New England Collegiate Conference Championship Tournament on Tuesday evening at the Leicester Gymnasium.


The Hawks of Becker (15-11), entering the game as the tournament's third seed, were led by sophomore guard Katey Anderson (Beachwood, N.J. / Toms River), who scored a career-high 15 points on five-of-eight shooting. Sophomore guard Ciara McKissick (Charlton, Mass. / Shepherd Hill Regional) pulled down a game-high 15 boards while scoring nine points and accumulating two steals. Freshman guard Kelsey Maynard (Millville, Mass. / Tri-County Vocational) finished with nine points while sophomore forward Adrianna Dowdy (East Haven, Conn. / Hill Regional Career) had six points, eight rebounds and four assists. Sophomore guard Tanaisha Espino (Southbridge, Mass. / Southbridge) came off the bench to score eight points.


The Nighthawks of Newbury (8-18), playing as the tournament's sixth seed, were led by junior forward Destiny Spears (Arnold, Md./ Broadneck Senior) with 22 points and nine rebounds while sophomore forward Savannah Olsen (Battle Creek, Mich./ Lakeview) finished with ten points and nine boards.


Becker opened the game scoring eight of the game's first ten points, a stretch that saw Dowdy score the first Hawk basket, then assist on the next three. Newbury recovered quickly, however, getting to the line 14 times in the first quarter and going ahead 14-12 on two free throws from sophomore guard Isabelle Pafford (Greenland, N.H./ Portsmouth). That would be the score at the end of the first quarter.


Down five with 8:01 left in the first half, the Hawks turned to their bench as senior guard Marissa Turner (Coventry, R.I. / Coventry) and Espino both made big baskets as part of a 12-1 Becker run to regain the lead at 24-18 with 2:04 left in the quarter. Then with 37 seconds left before the break, Espino buried just her fourth three-pointer of the year as Becker went into the break leading 27-21.


In the third quarter, defense and some timely three-point shooting saw the Hawks slowly pull away. With 2:46 left in the quarter, Maynard hit a huge three-pointer to put Becker ahead 40-28, their largest lead of the game up to that point. Despite a late Nighthawk surge, the Hawks entered the final quarter leading 44-36.


In the fourth quarter, Anderson had the hot hand early, hitting a jumper and following it up wi th a three to put Becker up 51-38 with 7:43 remaining. Newbury attempted to rally, cutting it to seven on a three-point play from Olsen with 2:34 left.


But the Hawks' defense stiffened when it mattered most, forcing a critical Nighthawk turnover and forcing the visitors to foul with 42.4 remaining. Freshman guard Cassidy Harrison (Foxborough, Mass. / Foxborough), coming off the bench for the first time since January 7th, made one of two to increase the lead to six, and a missed shot by Newbury put McKissick on the line. The sophomore made one of two with 20.3 to go, and seven seconds later made both to put the game away.  


The Hawks of Becker advance to the NECC Semifinals on Thursday night, when they will travel to Elms College, who earlier defeated Daniel Webster College, 88-57, in their quarterfinals bracket. It will be just the fourth time in school history that Becker has reached the semifinals of the NECC Championships.  


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