Kaleigh Anderson (@KaleighAnd1)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College women's basketball snatched their second consecutive New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) triumph, defeating the visiting Daniel Webster Eagles, 84-69, at Picknelly Arena Thursday night. With the win, the Blazers improve to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play, while the Eagles drop to 0-7 overall and 0-2 in the NECC.
The Blazers made their presence known early as junior Mackenzie LaRochelle (Chicopee, Mass.) posted the first tally of the contest within eight seconds of play to set the pace of what would be an action packed thriller. From there, Daniel Webster senior Briana Diggs (Washington, D.C.) evened the tides netting the first Eagle tally of the contest at the 9:12 mark. The Blazers would embark on a five-point stint powered by a sophomore Nakia Mabin (Bridgeport, Conn.) steal that resulted in an fastbreak layup down the stretch to put the Blazers up 9-4. The Eagles rallied back as junior Escarlin Reynoso (Lawrence, Mass.) tallied the first three-pointer of the night at 4:59. Play would remain close as each squad produced back-to-back buckets off the glass. Elms would capture their largest lead of the quarter with 48 seconds remaining as senior Alexandra Marques (Newington, Conn.) posted a pivotal layup to create the 23-17 gap. The Blazers would eventually head into the second owning a 25-19 scoreboard.
Marques posted the first numbers of the second for the Blazers as she rang in two from the charity stripe to give Elms an eight point advantage. The Eagles would respond within the time slot as they began a seven point stint to keep the game within one posting a 32-30 scoreboard at the 4:50 marker. The run was led by junior Natasha Santana (Lawrence, Mass.) alongside junior Amanda Dargie (Melbourne, Fla.) as they each posted three within the effort. Elms fought hard to remain in control of the half with LaRochelle going two for two at the stripe to add to her layup at the 3:08 marker, however the Eagles would close out the quarter on top posting a 42-40 scoreboard. Daniel Webster's Santana collected four from the line alongside a layup in the effort.
The third began with a senior Emily Burr (East Hartford, Conn.) three that rang loud in Picknelly Arena to which the Eagles responded with a senior Mackenzie Stone (Shelton, Conn.) jumper to remain ahead. Throughout the quarter the scoreboard saw five lead changes as the contest began a back and forth run of its own. Elms eventually produced 29 points in the period to which 12 tallies came from inside the paint. In three point range Burr went 2-for-1 from the outside to aid in the scoring efforts. The Eagles found a tie at the 4:33 slot after a three from junior Amanda Gendron (Mont Vernon, N.H.) dropped from outside, however the Blazers would embark on a 10-point run in response, headed by freshmen Molly Moulton (North Adams, Mass.) with three points in the stint. Elms would head into the fourth owning a 69-56 advantage.
A pair of freshmen Samantha Lynes (Berlin, Conn.) three's powered the fourth quarter as the Blazers would continue to lengthen their lead starting with Lynes at the 9:01 mark. Diggs would respond for the Eagles with a jumper of her own in an effort to keep hope alive, however Elms continued to widen the gap with back to back tallies off the hands of freshmen Rachel Granger (Hampden, Mass.) and Burr. Diggs would close out the scoring efforts for the Eagles with 29 seconds remaining but it would not prove to be enough as Elms walked away owning an 84-69 scoreboard.
"We definitely picked it up defensively in the second half," said Elms College Head Coach Michelle Proulx. "In the third quarter, we really started playing defense, getting into passing lanes, and that created fast-break opportunities, which is our strength especially when our guards are pushing the ball. We started hitting jump shots in the third quarter, which freed up the post space to play against the zone defense. Everything starts and stops with our defense. Our bench was huge today, both offensively and defensively, we had few players who don't play a lot of minutes hit some big shots, and that's the benefit of having a young team is them knowing they have to be ready all the time. We need to work on playing a full forty minutes defensively if we are going to beat Mitchell on Saturday."
LaRochelle powered the Blazers attack with her first double-double of the season, netting a team-high 23 points, shooting 9-of-15 from the floor, with a team-high 12 rebounds and seven assists. Burr tallied 16 points behind three three-pointers, while Marques delivered 10 points and eight rebounds. Mabin contributed nine points and nine rebounds in the win.
The Eagles were paced by Santana with a team-high 16 points with three rebounds and two assists off the bench. Reynoso added 11 points, and Diggs had 10 points and eight rebounds. Eagles senior Kayla Free (Quincy, Mass.) grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, nine points and a game-high five blocks for Daniel Webster.
The Blazers controlled the rebound game, 51-41, during the contest. Elms connected on 42.0% (29-of-69) from the floor, including 36.8% (7-19) from three-point range, and 59.4% (19-of-32) from the foul line. Daniel Webster shot 36.6 % (29-71) from the field and 70.6% (12-of-17) from the free throw stripe.
The Blazers will be back on the court with a conference visit to Mitchell December 3rd for a 1 p.m. start. The Eagles will play host to Regis December 3rd for a 7 p.m. start tip.