By Alex Solari, Staff Writer
On March 10, the Corsairs women’s basketball team competed in the 2017 NCAA Division III Championship Sectional Semifinals against SUNY New Paltz in Amherst, Mass.
UMass Dartmouth had a successful attack throughout, with four out of five of the starters scoring at least eight points. Junior Alicia Kutil posted a game-high of 17 points and 9 rebounds, with senior Rachel McCarron posting 15 points.
Although Nakira Examond struggled with fouls, she still finished with 9 points, including 5-for-7 from the foul line, and Leah Douty chipped in with 8 points.
The SUNY New Paltz Hawks kept up, however, with three players scoring in the double digits. Sophomore Lindsay Bettke posted 15 points, while Paige Niemeyer and Kit Small each scored 10 points. The Hawks struggled from the floor with a shooting percentage of 31.3 from the floor and 27.3 from long range.
UMass Dartmouth shot 70 percent in the first quarter, which made up for the early 5-0 deficit. McCarron scored a three-pointer from the arc, and soon after Douty scored a triple, which sparked a 17-2 surge, capped by a three-pointer from Kutil.
New Paltz strengthened its defense in the second quarter, with only five field goals and nine turnovers from the Corsairs. The Hawks also started to gain offensive momentum, with Small scoring 5 consecutive points to key a 12-0 run and a forge a 24-all tie. Kutil broke this tie with a lay-up, but the Hawks reciprocated with a jumper. Danyel Gonzalez shot a triple to push the advantage back to 5, which carried the Corsairs into the locker room at 33-28.
UMass Dartmouth brought their lead up to 7 early in the third quarter with a lay-up by McCarron. Going into the middle of the quarter with a 5-point lead, Examond picked up her fourth foul and was forced to the bench. The Hawks capitalized on this with a 6-0 run to bring the deficit to one. The Corsairs were unfazed, closing the quarter on a 6-2 run, with a score of 46-41 going into the final quarter.
With less than three minutes into the fourth, the Corsairs lead with a game-high 14 points. Midway throughout the quarter, SUNY New Paltz retaliated with two straight jumpers from Jutil, and Bettke knocked down two triples, which trimmed the deficit to six.
The Corsairs responded with back-to-back shots, bringing the lead up to 9 points. The Corsairs kept this momentum, and finished the game with a score of 67-57.
The Corsairs faced Amherst College on March 11 in the LeTrak Gymnasium. This game was the first time the Corsairs had made it to the national tournament, and unfortunately, UMass Dartmouth fell short with a score of 73-33 in Amherst College’s favor.
Amherst disrupted the Corsairs on both side of the court, which lead to lead of 22-2 for Amherst College. The Corsairs were not able to recover from this, and Amherst College continued to score big numbers while UMass Dartmouth trailed behind.
Amherst College limited the Corsairs to only 9.1 percent from the field, and caused nine turnovers that gave Amherst eight points. Amherst struggled from the floor with 37.5 percent, but they were able to score 10 offensive rebounds and 9 second-chance points.
UMass Dartmouth gained momentum in the second quarter with a 9-0 streak which trimmed the deficit to 25-11. Examond and Kutil converted consecutive layups, and Chelsea Houlihan scored a three-pointer. Examond capped the streak with a lay-up inside the paint.
Amherst fought back with a 15-0 run, which put them back in control of the game, which carried them into half-time. In the last two quarters, UMass Dartmouth fought against the Amherst, but ultimately the gap was too large, and the Corsairs left the 2017 NCAA Division III Championships in the sectional semifinals.