Smith Battles Past MIT, 58-53

Junior Michelle Battipaglia
Junior Michelle Battipaglia

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a back-and-forth battle, Smith College emerged with a 58-53 victory over the MIT women's basketball team in a NEWMAC game on Tuesday night. Senior Rosa Drummond (Rye, N.H.) led all scorers with 18 points and added 14 rebounds for the Pioneers who improved to 3-7 on the year and 3-4 in conference play. For the Engineers (5-6, 2-4 NEWMAC), sophomore Sabrina Drammis (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) racked up a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with 14 points and two steals.

The closely-played first half featured six ties and four lead changes. Smith senior Marissa Munoz-Ruiz (Fairfield, Conn.) provided the fifth tie of the frame on her jumper that evened the score at 10 at the 10:43 mark. MIT responded with a 7-2 spurt during the next two minutes; however, the Pioneers produced an 8-2 run of their own as two free throws by junior Paulina Solis (Santa Ana, Calif.) put them ahead, 20-19, with 4:43 on the clock. A Drammis put-back and a layup from junior Michelle Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.) gave the hosts a small cushion but Smith recorded the next six points to go in front, 26-23. On the final possession of the half, MIT junior Mari Kordell (Ijamsville, Md.) buried a long jumper as time expired.

Coming out of the intermission, the Engineers mounted a 12-4 run which gave them a 37-30 advantage after 5:18 elapsed. Sparked by a Drummond trifecta and later a three-point play in addition to two free throws, the Pioneers put together a 15-2 run which gave them a 45-39 lead midway through the half. Drammis's three-point play cut MIT's deficit in half but Drummond answered with a layup as a free throw from junior Lauren Weston (Florence, Mass.) gave Smith some breathing room with seven minutes to go.

The Cardinal and Gray continued to attack, narrowing the gap to three on two occasions before back-to-back Drummond baskets resulted in the Pioneers' largest lead of the night (54-47) with 3:58 remaining. In the next 50 seconds, Drammis drained a put-back and a pair of free throws to keep MIT within striking distance. On Smith's next trip down the court senior Sydney Parkmond (Waterbury, Conn.) sank a lay-up late in the shot clock; however, Drammis matched it with two more free throws with 2:30 left to play.

Both sides turned the ball over twice during the next minute and failed to connect on both of their shots until Smith freshman Jade Chihara (Laihana, Hawaii) drove for a layup with 43 seconds on the clock. Down the stretch, the Pioneers made two trips to the charity stripe but they couldn't convert the front-end of the one-and-one. The Engineers, meanwhile, put up three shots including two from behind the arc; however, they were off the mark. A steal by Solis with six ticks left thwarted any attempt at late rally by MIT.

Kordell paced the Engineers with 17 points and tacked on two assists and two steals while sophomore Durva Bhandare (North Brunswick, N.J.) tallied six points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Battipaglia finished with 10 points as sophomore Maya Ramachandran (Fremont, Calif.) totaled five boards, three steals, and two assists.

Solis compiled 11 points, five rebounds, five steals, and three assists for Smith. Chira registered eight points and three steals while Parkmond notched eight points and eight boards. Munoz-Ruiz accounted for five of the Pioneers' 10 assists.

Both squads continue conference play on Thursday, Jan. 9. MIT will visit nationally-ranked No. 22 Wheaton College while Smith will host Springfield College.