#1 NEC Punches Ticket to Women's Basketball Championship

#1 NEC Punches Ticket to Women's Basketball Championship

HENNIKER, N.H. – The New England College women's basketball team heads to the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship following their 66-64 win over Eastern Nazarene in their semifinal matchup.
 
With the win, the Pilgrims improve to 18-9 on the season. Eastern Nazarene will see their season come to a close at 19-8 overall.

NEC LEADERS 
Rene Hudson led the Pilgrims in points (25), rebounds (14), and assists (6). Jaz Laracuente recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She added five assists in the contest.

EASTERN NAZARENE LEADERS
Tia Torio led the Lion offense with 22 points. Courtney Barba and Kyra Fleharty added 12 and 10 points each. Torio grabbed a team high six rebounds and added five assists.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Eastern Nazarene came out of the gate on the attack, as the four seeded Lions jumped out to the early 9-0 advantage in the opening four minutes. New England College slowly chipped away at the deficit, bringing it to just five point (13-8) with three minutes left in the first quarter with a Jaz Laracuente jumper. Both teams traded baskets as ENC headed into the second up 19-10.

The Pilgrims came roaring back in the second, as NEC shot a blistering 54.5 (6-11) from the first in the second 10-minutes of action. New England College controlled the paint by outscoring Eastern Nazarene 8-2 in the paint and outrebounding the 11-4. The Pilgrims grabbed their first lead of the contest with 23 seconds remaining in the half, as Brianna Pierreval sunk both free-throws.

Coming out of the intermission, both teams traded baskets before a Laracuente three-pointer, pushing the NEC advantage to seven (47-40) with just under three-minutes in the quarter. The Lions would cut the New England College lead down to two (51-49) as Tia Torio drained a three with 10-seconds left on the clock.

In the final quarter, Eastern Nazarene regained the lead with a jumper from Kyra Fleharty at 8:26, but seven straight points from the Pilgrims capped off by a traditional three-point play by Daiela Boutwell gave NEC the 60-55 lead with 6:37 left in regulation. With 2:13 remaining in the game, Laracuente's layup pushed the New England College advantage up to seven (64-57). ENC tied the game with seven straight points with 41 seconds remaining in the contest following a fast break layup from Courtney Barba. After a free throw from both Kayla Goldring and Charisse Thomas, the Pilgrims were up two with 1.2 seconds on the clock. Jenn Burnham was sent to the line with the chance to tie the game and go to overtime, but she missed both free throws, sealing the game.  

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
-This was the 33rd meeting between the two schools, New England College now leads the all-time series 18-15. 
-First time since 2016-17 season that the women's basketball team has reached the conference championship game.
-The Pilgrims will extend their current win streak to six games.
 
WHAT'S NEXT
Saturday, February 23rd, vs. Becker College, NECC Championship, 2:00 p.m.