Hartford, Conn. – Junior forward Maya Davis (Milton, Mass.) had 22 points, eight rebounds, and three steals to lead the visiting Middlebury College Panthers to a 75-71 victory over the Trinity College Bantams in the quarterfinals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Women's Basketball Championship Tournament this afternoon at Oosting Gymnasium. The No. 4-seeded Bantams fall to 19-6 and will have to wait and see if they are selected for their first NCAA Division III Championship Tournament since 1997 when the field is announced on February 25.
The No. 5-seeded Panthers improve to 19-6, avenging a 59-55 loss to Trinity 20 days ago, and will play the top-seeded and undefeated Bowdoin College Polar Bears in the NESCAC Semifinals next weekend. Trinity junior Peace Kabari (Manchester, N.H.) led all scorers with 28 points, sinking 10 of her 20 shot attempts, but the Bantams could not overcome a 28.2 shooting percentage from the field by the rest of its players.
Middlebury came out strong and led, 17-10, with 2:43 left in the first quarter after a short jumper by senior tri-captain center Catherine Harrison (Duxbury, Mass.). Trinity trailed, 19-16, at the first break but senior guard Becky Reifler (Garden City, N.Y.) opened the second quarter with a three-pointer to tie it. The Bantams led, 28-25, with 4:20 remaining in the first half thanks to a jumper by rookie Kaylen Campbell (Hillsborough, N.C.), but Middlebury scored 12 of the next 15 points and led at intermission, 37-31.
Trinity used a 12-1 run early in the third quarter to take a 43-40 lead at the 6:16 mark on a pair of free throws by senior center Courtney Erickson (Everett, Mass.). The Panthers scored six points in a row over the next two minutes, taking a 44-43 lead on two Davis free throws, and stayed ahead the rest of the way. The visitors had a 53-49 advantage heading into the final quarter, and the teams battled back and forth for nearly 12 minutes until Erickson made one of two free throws to make it, 64-63, in Middlebury's favor with 3:38 on the clock.
The Panthers increased their lead to 70-65 after four points in a row by junior forward Betsy Knox (Bethesda, Md.). Trinity had the ball several times with a chance to tie in the final two minutes but could not get off a decent look. Knox and senior guard Ivy Houde (Rixeyville, Va.) made five of six free throws down the stretch for the visitors.
Kabari added 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and two blocks to her 28 points, while Erickson finished with 17 points and six boards, and sophomore guard Allie Morin (Westwood, Mass.) dished five assists. Senior guard Colleen Caveney (Lowell, Mass.) had 17 points and four assists for Middlebury, while junior guard Kira Waldman (San Francisco, Calif.) added 16 points and seven assists, and Knox collected 14 points, six rebounds, and three blocks.