Women's basketball to play for NESCAC title

Contact: William Sodoma
Date: February 27, 2010
Athletics Preview Photos

Diana Manduca

AMHERST, Mass. --- The Colby College women's basketball team will play for the New England Small College Athletic Conference title for the first time in school history after a convincing 75-64 victory over rival Bowdoin College in a league semifinal game Saturday at Amherst College.

The second-seeded Mules, winners of eight straight games, will battle number one on Sunday when Colby meets Amherst College in a noon championship game at Amherst. The Lord Jeffs, a 77-43 winner over Bates in the other semifinal, are not only the top seed in the NESCAC but also unbeaten at 26-0 and ranked first in the country in both national polls. The game will be Webcast and fans can follow along on live stats as well at https://www.amherst.edu/athletics/jeffcast

"It is fitting that we are playing the best team in the country for a chance to win something as prestigious as a NESCAC championship," Colby head coach Lori Gear McBride said. "It is a great challenge and we are excited for the opportunity." 

Colby, ranked 22nd in one national poll and 23rd in the other, tied a program record for wins in a season by improving to 23-3. The 1981-82 and the 1983-84 squads each won 23 games. The 2009-10 team already had tied the 1983-84 team for most wins in the regular season with 21.

The winner of Sunday's title game will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, but it is likely that the loser of the game will get an at-large bid. The pairings will be announced on Monday at 12:30 p.m. and the bracket will be on www.NCAA.com at approximately 1 p.m.

Bowdoin dropped to 20-6, including two losses in three games this year to Colby, and misses out on a chance to defend its NESCAC title. The Polar Bears have won eight of the nine NESCAC titles since the league started a playoff system in 2001. Bowdoin was defeated in a semifinal game in 2008 and now misses out on another final thanks to the Mules.

Colby first-year guard Diana Manduca showed no fear in her first NESCAC Final Four with a team-high 18 points on some blistering shooting. She was 4-for-6 from the field, 2-for-2 from 3-point range, and 8-for-8 from the foul line.

Colby point guard Aarika Ritchie continued her hot play at the end of the season with 15 points, including an 8-for-13 effort from the free-throw line, and dished a game-high seven assists. Ritchie had just one turnover in the game and moved her season assist total to 99 and her career mark to 158 in two seasons.

Rachael Mack was steady as usual with 6-for-8 shooting from the field, a 3-for-3 effort from the foul line, and also finished with 15 points despite playing just 20 minutes because of early foul trouble. Julianne Kowalski had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, Alison Cappelloni had eight points, and Jil Vaughan finished with six for Colby. Cappelloni is up to 1,189 career points in her final season with Colby, while Kowalski is at 698 points and 516 rebounds in her junior season.

The Mules shot 50 percent (24-for-48) from the field and held the Polar Bears to 39.7 percent shooting at 25-for-63. Colby also had a huge edge at the foul line at 22-for-29 compared to Bowdoin's 11-for-20.

Colby held Bowdoin's top two scorers --- Caitlyn Hynes and Leah Rubega --- to just four points and two rebounds combined in the first half when the Mules took a 42-32 lead. Amy Hackett led the Polar Bears with 18 points and Hynes finished with 14. Hynes had three fouls at halftime and finished the game with four.

The Mules led 28-25 with 5:12 left in the first half and then used an 8-0 run to take control despite Mack missing a chunk of time with foul problems. Kowalski hit a pair of free throws and Manduca followed that with a 4-point play after making a 3-point shot, getting fouled, and nailing the free throw for a 34-25 margin. Jacky McLaughlin added another 3-point shot with 3:25 to go for a 37-25 margin. Manduca hit one more 3-point shot in the final minutes of the half as the Mules took the 10-point margin at the break.

"When we lost Rachael early with her second foul, everyone really stepped up their game," Gear McBride said. "We had a burst of offense in the latter minutes of the first half that was a product of great ball movement and patience. The guards and post players had great chemistry and communication today."

Bowdoin got as close as nine points at 44-35 in the second half, but Colby went on a 7-1 run after that to make it 51-36. The Mules led by as much as 18 points early in the second half and the lead never got below 10 points the rest of the way.

"With a rested Rachael on the floor in the second half, we were able to build a big lead and hold off a run from Bowdoin midway through," Gear McBride said. " We did a good job handling their pressure and executing at the free-throw line."


BOWDOIN (20-6 (5-4))

Amy Hackett 6-13 4-5 18; Caitlin Hynes 6-13 2-5 14; Katie Bergeron 4-12 2-3

11; Leah Rubega 4-11 0-3 8; Kaitlin Donahoe 2-5 3-4 7; Sabrina Cote 2-4 0-0

4; Alexa Barry 1-2 0-0 2; Colleen Sweeney 0-0 0-0 0; Ellery Gould 0-3 0-0 0;

Nicole Coombes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-63 11-20 64.

COLBY (23-3 (7-2))

Diana Manduca 4-6 8-8 18; Aarika Ritchie 3-6 8-13 15; Rachael Mack 6-8 3-3

15; Julianne Kowalski 4-9 2-3 10; Alison Cappelloni 3-9 1-2 8; Jil Vaughan

3-5 0-0 6; Jacky McLaughlin 1-1 0-0 3; Samantha Allen 0-2 0-0 0; Jayde

Bennett 0-1 0-0 0; Kelly Potvin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-48 22-29 75.

Bowdoin.......................   32   32  -   64

Colby.........................   42   33  -   75

3-point goals--Bowdoin 3-19 (Amy Hackett 2-7; Katie Bergeron 1-7; Kaitlin

Donahoe 0-1; Sabrina Cote 0-1; Alexa Barry 0-1; Ellery Gould 0-2), Colby 5-9

(Diana Manduca 2-2; Jacky McLaughlin 1-1; Aarika Ritchie 1-1; Alison

Cappelloni 1-4; Samantha Allen 0-1). Fouled out--Bowdoin-Amy Hackett,

Colby-None. Rebounds--Bowdoin 34 (Leah Rubega 7), Colby 35 (Julianne

Kowalski 10). Assists--Bowdoin 10 (Katie Bergeron 4), Colby 15 (Aarika

Ritchie 7). Total fouls--Bowdoin 22, Colby 16. Technical

fouls--Bowdoin-None, Colby-None. A-293

Semifinals - Saturday, February 27 at Amherst

Amherst 77, Bates 43

Colby 75, Bowdoin 64

Championship - Sunday, February 28
No. 2 Colby at No. 1 Amherst - 12:00 p.m.


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