Clark Rallies to Beat Bears

WORCESTER, MASS.--(12/3/11)--Down by as many as ten points in the second half, host Clark University rallied for a thrilling 65-64 win over Coast Guard in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at the Kneller Athletic Center.

With the win, the Cougars extend their winning streak to four games and improve to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in league play, while the Bears drop their second straight to slip to 4-2 as well but 0-2 in conference action.

In a game that featured 22 lead changes and ten ties, Kate Minister converted an inside hoop with seven seconds left to give Clark a one point advantage. The Bears raced down court looking for the go ahead basket, but the Cougars drew an offensive foul with two seconds left to secure the win.

The game started off sloppy for both teams as they combined for 20 first half turnovers. Clark eventually took a five point lead – their biggest of the game – at 22-17 with 2:46 left following a fast break finish from Megan Grondin and a three-pointer from Kelsey Giedymin.

Coast Guard responded and outscored the Cougars 13-6 over the final 2:21, highlighted by three-pointers from Brittany Zimmerman and Alexi Howland and seven points from Victoria Gurtler to go into halftime up, 30-28.

The game was tied at 34-34 a little more than two minutes into the second half when Coast Guard embarked on a 12-2 run powered by eight straight points from Kaitlin Ward to move ahead 46-36 with 13:33 left.

Clark began to slowly chip away as reserve Maggie Croft ignited a Cougar burst finishing on the break off a feed from Emily Reilly and then dropping in a top of the key triple to make the score 46-43.

Reilly then gave the Cougars the lead when she grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast and finished while being fouled to make the score 50-48 with 8:17 remaining.

The lead would change hands 11 times and the score would be tied three more times over the next seven minutes before Ward went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe to give the Bears the 64-63 edge with 1:06 left.

Each team came up empty on their next possessions before Ashleigh Condon found Minister open on the left block and she converted the game-winning score.

Clark's defense was huge down the stretch as they held Coast Guard without a basket over the final 3:42.

The game was pretty much even and statistics bear that out. Both teams shot close to 40 percent for the game with the Bears right at 40 (24-for-60), and the Cougars a shade under at 39 (25-for-64). Each squad had 11 points off of turnovers and Clark held a slight edge on the glass (39-38).

Ward paced the Bears with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including several acrobatic jumpers, while both Jamie Waterman (13 points, ten rebounds) and Gurtler (11 points, ten rebounds) each recorded double-doubles. The 13 points were a career-high for Waterman as she registered her first career double-double.

Grondin, meanwhile, totaled a career-best 18 points for the victors, while Reilly ended with 15 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Giedymin added 12 points and five boards and Condon ended with four points, six rebounds and six assists despite going just 1-for-10 from the floor.

Clark's winning streak matches their best stretch last year and is the longest since late in the 2008-09 season when they won six straight and finished the season 13-13.