SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – Junior guard Kaitlin Ward nailed a critical three-pointer with 23 seconds left in the game and the Coast Guard Academy held on for a 58-52 victory over Mount Holyoke College in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Saturday.
With the victory, the Bears move to 6-7 overall and 4-4 in league play, while the Lyons slip to 3-10 and 1-8 in the NEWMAC.
Holding a 53-52 lead with under a minute left in the game, Ward gave the visiting Bears the push they needed after she saved the ball from going into the back court. Regaining control, Ward ducked around an MHC defender and sent a long, off-balanced shot toward the net, which sailed in to make it a four-point (56-52) game.
Following a quick timeout with 20 seconds left, Mount Holyoke charged into the offensive zone, but senior guard Angelica Pascual's layup fell off the mark and was quickly recovered by Ward. A subsequent foul sent Ward to the free throw line and despite a miss on her attempt, senior forward Karli Collins was quick to recover the offensive board.
Benefitting from another Lyons foul, the Bears sent sophomore guard Alexi Howland to the line, who drained both shots and make it a 58-52 advantage with eight seconds remaining.
Sophomore guard Kate Karraker tried to cut the difference for Mount Holyoke, throwing up a three-pointer with two seconds left, but sophomore forward Dani Knox blocked the shot to seal the victory for the Bears.
It was a back-and-forth battle to open the contest as neither team yielded much of a lead. MHC pulled away first after a layup by first year guard Genelle Green and a pair of free throw makes from sophomore forward Amber Legare made it a 14-9 game at the 13:18 mark.
Coast Guard battled back and took advantage at the 6:40 mark as junior forward Larla Brown sank back-to-back layups to make it a four-point (35-21) game in favor of the visitors. Mount Holyoke refused to back down and regained the lead minutes later on a three-pointer from Pascual. A pair of free throw makes from sophomore forward Nicole DeMarchena pushed the lead to four (30-26) and the Lyons eventually took a 32-28 lead into the halftime.
MHC continued to lead in the second half, but Coast Guard regained the lead at 12:10 on a bucket by first year Meghan Fornaro and never relinquished the lead from that point.
Leading the Bears was Ward and Brown, who each poured in 12 points. Ward added five rebounds and two assists, while Brown had four caroms. Fornaro chipped in with seven points and a game-best three steals.
For the Lyons, Legare finished with a game-best 18 points and seven rebounds. She also had a block and two steals. Pascual added 12 points, six rebounds and a game-best six assists, while Karraker posted eight points.
"I thought the team played very hard this afternoon, " said Coast Guard head coach Alex Ivansheck. "It wasn't the prettiest game, but we had several players step up and make huge plays. Kaitlin Ward had a huge 3-point shot and Alexi Howland came up big with two made free throws. All around it was a great team effort."
Coast Guard is back in action on Wednesday, hosting Wellesley at 5:30 p.m.