- Score: No. 5 MIT 64, No. 1 Smith College 51
- Records: MIT (17-9); Smith (20-6)
- Location: Northampton, Mass. (Ainsworth Gym)
- The Lead: No. 5 seeded MIT generated 10 unanswered points during the first 5:23 of the fourth quarter to pull away and defeat top-seeded Smith College, 64-51, in the semifinals of the NEWMAC Women's Basketball Tournament on Saturday. The victory puts the Engineers in the championship game for the first time in program history.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Smith scored the first seven points of the game before going up 15-4 with 2:25 left in the quarter. Following its own timeout, MIT responded with seven straight points as a three-pointer by junior Kara Holinski (Livonia, Mich.) made the score 15-11 just 10 seconds into the second stanza.
- An exchange of three pointers ensued until a jumper by the Pioneers created a 23-14 margin midway through the frame. A trey by freshman Jocelyn Luizzi (Colchester, Conn.) ended the Engineers' three-minute scoring drought, however, Smith quickly drained a layup to maintain its cushion. On MIT's next possession, Luizzi knocked down a jumper, sparking a 9-0 run that put the visitors ahead, 26-25, heading into halftime. During the rally, junior Maude Gull (Zurich, Switzerland) drained a pair of buckets while Luizzi capped the burst with a three-pointer.
- The third quarter was closely played as there were four lead changes and two ties. Trailing 32-29, the Pioneers strung together seven straight points to take a slight edge with 2:28 remaining. The Engineers replied with a Holinski fast-break layup and a 4-for-4 performance by junior Taylor V'Dovec (Blaine, Wash.) at the charity stripe to put them back in front, 38-36, with 1:20 to go.
- MIT carried the momentum into the final frame as a trey by Holinski ignited the Engineers' pivotal run. The Cardinal and Gray's advantage later grew to 13 (51-38) after a free throw by junior Dolly Yuan (San Jose, Calif.) with just under two minutes left to play. Despite the deficit Smith continued to attack, going on an 11-5 spurt during the next minute to come within seven points. This was as close as it would get as the Engineers went 6-for-8 at the free-throw line to thwart the late rally.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Holinski finished with a game-high 25 points and became the eighth player in program history to eclipse 1,000 career points. Luizzi produced 12 points and three assists as Yuan totaled a game-high 11 rebounds to go along with seven points. V'Dovec contributed eight points and six boards while Gull rounded out the squad with seven rebounds.
- MIT ended the day with advantages in field-goal percentage (42.9 – 29.0) and rebounds (42-34). Nine of Smith's 18 made field goals where from three-point range while the Engineers knocked down five of their shots from behind the arc.
- MIT will face either No. 2 WPI or No. 3 Babson College in the NEWMAC Championship which will be hosted by Smith on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 1:00 p.m.