Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College women's basketball team stormed past visiting Southern Vermont College, 78-39, in a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) tip at Picknelly Arena Wednesday night. With the win, the Blazers improve to 7-7 overall and 5-3 in the NECC, while Southern Vermont drops to 1-7 in conference, and 1-12 on the season.
The Blazers started out hot in the first quarter, jumping to a 6-1 lead in the opening minutes behind four points from sophomore Chaniah Pantry (New Haven, Conn.). Elms expanded their advantage to 13-3 at the 5:09 mark on a jumper from senior Alexandra Marques (Newington, Conn.), but the Mountaineers chipped the lead back to single digits on four points from freshman Sarah Poirier (Ferrisburgh, Vt.) to make it an 18-10 scoreboard.
A jumper from Southern Vermont freshman Taylor Mallett (Berwick, Maine) trimmed the deficit to 18-15 with 9:04 left in the second quarter. The Blazers rebuilt a 23-15 on buckets from freshman Samantha Lynes (Berlin, Conn.) and junior Mackenzie LaRochelle (Chicopee, Mass.), but a 7-2 run by the Mountaineers closed the gap to 25-22 with 3:51 remaining in the period. Elms finished the second quarter strong, executing a 13-0 run, featuring six points from senior Emily Burr (East Hartford, Conn.), to race ahead 38-22 at the half.
Elms took over the game in the third quarter as the Blazers defense limited the Mountaineers to five points in the quarter. Leading 40-24 after the opening minute, Elms held Southern Vermont scoreless for the next eight minutes while orchestrating a 20-0 run, featuring five points from Lynes and four-point efforts from Marques and freshman Rachael Granger (Hampden, Mass.). The Blazers closed the third quarter holding a 60-27 lead.
The Mountaineers chipped away at the deficit to start the fourth quarter behind three-pointers from Poirier and sophomore Sarah Morillo (Yonkers, N.Y.) trimming the gap to 63-35 with 7:07 to play. The Blazers executed one final run, outscoring Southern Vermont 15-2, capped off by a three-point play from freshman Noelle Pechie (Stafford Springs, Conn.) to give the Blazers their largest lead en route to the 78-39 victory.
"Our focus today was our defense and it got a lot better as the game went on," said Elms Head Coach Michelle Proulx. "We've been working on improving our individual defense, so I'm happy we took a step forward, and everyone who played, played hard defensively tonight. Game's like this give our young players the ability to play more minutes and get more collegiate experience, which will prepare them for February, as well as the years to come. Sam [Lynes] gave us a nice spark off the bench, Kayla Soto brought great energy, and Rachel [Granger] played hard when she was in, so the message we are trying to send is that whether you're playing two minutes or 40 minutes, your effort needs to be the same all the time. What we can take from this game is seeing how good it can be when our effort is there for all 40 minutes. [Bay Path] poses a lot of tough elements for us, they have a couple players who can really score the ball, they're very fast, work hard and are coached well, so it's going to be an interesting matchup. We are bigger than [Bay Path], but they're faster than us at all five positions, but we have a couple days to prepare and we'll be ready on Saturday."
The Blazers were powered by double-double efforts from Marques and Pantry. Marques netted a game-high 20 points with a game-high 14 rebounds, and Pantry recorded a career-high 15 points with 13 rebounds. Burr tallied 10 points with a game-high five assists, four steals and three rebounds. Lynes chipped in eight points off the bench, while Granger and LaRochelle registered six points and five rebounds apiece.
Southern Vermont was led by nine-point efforts from Mallett and senior Amber Dow (Panton, Vt.). Poirier grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds with seven points, six steals, three assists and two blocks. Sophomore Amber Lesure (Cheshire, Mass.) tallied nine rebounds with seven points and two assists in the loss.
The Blazers dominated the rebounding column, 58-33, including 26 offensive rebounds, leading to a 26-1 advantage in second-chance points. Elms connected on 40.2% (33-of-82) from the floor, 16.7% (3-of-18) from three-point range, and 45% (9-of-20) from the free-throw line. Southern Vermont shot 29.8% (14-of-47) from the field, 28.6% (4-of-14) from three-point, and 63.6% (7-of-11) from the charity stripe.
The Blazers will return to the court with an NECC road trip against Bay Path University Saturday at 3:00 p.m. The game will be played at Holyoke Community College. Southern Vermont hosts Regis College in conference action Saturday at 1:00 p.m.