O'Connell, Bannister Provide Offensive Fireworks in Victory

The Newbury College women's basketball team snapped a two game losing streak, Thursday evening, defeating Mitchell College, 79-59, in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) action.  In the process, junior center Catherine O'Connell (Quincy, Mass.) recorded her 1,000th rebound of her collegiate career less than a minute into the second half as she finished with her 13th double-double of the season, tallying 13 points and 18 boards.

It took only seconds for the Nighthawks to jump on the scoreboard. After winning the opening tip, senior guard Kendra Bannister (Washington, D.C.) found classmate Morganna Machado (Attleboro, Mass.) wide open at the perimeter for the quick trey four seconds into the contest. Moments later O'Connell increased the lead to five with a put-back lay-up before Mitchell's Hannah Smith (Wakefield, R.I.) put the Mariners on the board knocking down long range jumper.

But the Nighthawk offense was kindling. There was no stopping the senior guard from the nation's capital. In the  first half alone, Bannister was red-hot form beyond the arc, shooting 50%, as she lit up the Mariners with a half-high 15 points.

At the other end of the court, O'Connell entered tonight's conference contest 10 rebounds shy of the elusive 1,000 rebound milestone. After grabbing three quick rebounds to start the contest, it appeared as if she was going to hit the milestone in no time but the South Shore native settled down. As the Nighthawks went into the locker room with a commanding 45-28 lead, O'Connell was locked at 999.

When the teams emerged from the locker room at the start of the second, O'Connell wasted no time as she snatched an offensive board away from the waiting hands of defenders for rebound number 1,000 before putting it back up for the easy lay-up.

However the Mariners began to mount a comeback. Sophomore forward Cora Harris (Jersey City, N.J.) knocked down both her free throws to cut the deficit to 17 but they were unable to cool the stifling Nighthawk offense. A minute later Machado converted on a fast-break, sparked by a steal from sophomore forward Katie Haney (Winchendon, Mass.). Moments later, senior guard Shayla White (Dorchester, Mass.) followed suit, picking the pocket of senior guard Bianca White (Bridgeport, Conn.) and took it back for the easy lay-up.

Bannister continued to remain on fire, teaming up with White to drop eight points in the second half as she set a new career single game-high, netting 23 points on the evening. O'Connell and Machado followed up with 13 points of their own while White rounded out the foursome in double figures with 10.

The win improves the Nighthawks to 8-4 in the conference and 10-9 overall while the Mariners fall to 4-8 in the NECC and 5-13 overall. Newbury returns to action on Saturday February 4th when they host Elms College at 12:00 p.m. They will be looking to atone for an eight point, 69-61, loss to the Blazers in mid-January.

Game Notes:
Senior Shayla White (Dorchester, Mass.) found senior forward Rachel Wyszynski (Wilbraham, Mass.) wide open in the paint with 1:21 remaining in the half for her first points of her collegiate career…Fellow senior Felicia Jones (Randolph, Mass.) battled valiantly in the post and ripped away two clutch boards while first year center Jamie Vankoeverden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) impressed on defense providing two key blocks and steal late in the contest.