NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Senior Marissa Munoz-Ruiz scored with 58 seconds left to give Smith the lead for good as the Pioneers, who trailed by ten with less than five minutes left rallied for a 59-57 win over Coast Guard in a key New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) game.
Munoz-Ruiz's hoop gave Smith a 58-57 lead and junior Paulina Solis added one of two free throws with 9.8 seconds left for the 59-57 lead.
Coast Guard junior Brittney Zimmerman's runner in the lane in the closing seconds would not fall as Smith held on for the come-from-behind win.
Zimmerman, in her final year of eligibility, scored the 1,000th point of her career as she finished with a team-high tying 13 points in the game giving her 1,002 in her career. She became the eighth player to score 1,000 points in a Coast Guard uniform and the first to do so having transferred to the Academy. Zimmerman had 543 points in two seasons at Delaware Valley College before transferring to the Coast Guard Academy.
Smith won its sixth straight to improve to 14-10 overall and 14-5 in the NEWMAC while the Bears dropped to 17-6 overall and 12-6 in the conference.
Junior Dani Knox also had 13 points to go with her team-high seven rebounds off the bench for Coast Guard.
Coast Guard missed its first six shots of the second half as Smith overcame an 11-point first half deficit and turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 35-33 lead on a basket by Munoz-Ruiz with 14:59 left in the game.
Zimmerman would make the Bears first hoop of the second half, a 3-pointer with 14:30 left, which also happened to give her exactly 1,000 career points and gave the Bears a 36-35 lead.
The historical bucket by Zimmerman started a 14-4 Coast Guard run as the Bears took a 47-39 lead with 9:26 left following an offensive rebound and put back by senior Kaitlin Ward.
Smith would go close to nine minutes without a field goal until senior Sydney Parkmond scored with 6:02 left to make the score 49-42. The Pioneers last field goal prior to that was the Munox-Ruiz bucket with 14:59 left giving them a 35-33 lead.
Zimmerman made a pair of three throws with 4:52 left to give Coast Guard a 52-42 lead before Smith went on a 11-2 run to cut the deficit to 54-53 with 2:53 left.
Smith regained the lead 56-55 on a 3-pointer by junior Alyssa Barrett with 1:43 left before Knox made a layup with 1:15 left to give the Bears a 57-56 lead.
The Pioneers shot 38.2 percent in the game (21-55) and made 4 of 14 from behind the arc while Coast Guard finished 18 of 50 from the field (36 percent) making 6 of 11 from 3-point range.
Senior Rosa Drummond led Smith with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists on Senior Day while Parkmond and junior Alyssa Barrett each added ten points in the win.
The game got off to slow start as the teams combined to miss their first 13 field goals with Smith outscoring the Bears 4-1 from the free throw line. Fornaro made the first field goal of the game, a 3-pointer with 14:31 left in the opening half to tie the game 4-4.
Drummond made the Pioneers first bucket, a 3-pointer with 13:57 left, for a 7-4 lead before the Bears used a 10-2 run to take a 14-9 lead following a trey by Knox with 11:20 left.
After the cold start where Coast guard missed its first six field goals, the Bears would make seven of their next nine shots from the floor to take a 20-13 lead with 7:44 left in the first half.
The Bears took their largest lead of the half 28-17 on a 3-pointer by junior Alexi Howland with 3:35 left in the half to cap a 14-4 spurt by Coast Guard.
Smith would make a late charge in the first half as they ended the run on a 10-3 spurt to pull to within 31-27 at the break.
Coast Guard was 10 of 25 from the field in the first half (40 percent) while making 4 of 8 from behind the arc while Smith was 9 of 28 from the floor (32.1 percent) and hit 2 of 7 from 3-point range in the opening stanza.
"I thought we played very well," said Coast Guard head coach Alex Ivansheck. "We just had a handful of mistakes that cost us the game."
The Bears are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to WPI in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic (NEWMAC) game set to tip at 5:30 p.m.