HENNIKER, N.H. – The New England College women's basketball team earned their first conference championship in 26 years and an NCAA berth after downing Becker College, 61-40 in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) championship game.
With the win, the Pilgrims improve to 19-9 with a 15-3 record in the NECC. Becker will fall to 20-8 overall with a 15-3 record in the NECC.
Rene Hudson led all players in points in with 28. Jaz Laracuente chipped in 10 points as the only Pilgrims in double-digits. Hudson also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for a double-double. She also had seven assists in the contest.
Cassidy Harrison led the Hawk offense with 16 points. Ciara McKissick grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Jazlyn Contreras had three assists. Harrison also grabbed four steals.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Hudson gave the Pilgrims the lead just nine seconds in with a three-pointer. McKissick responded with a layup for Becker. However, Hudson buried another three-pointer to get the sold-out crowd on their feet. With the momentum and the crowd behind them, New England College extended their lead to eight at 13-5. Harrison scored six straight Hawk points to close out the quarter and make the contest a four-point game at the end of the first frame. Brianna Pierreval hit two free throws to give NEC a 14-point lead midway through the second quarter but Becker rallied and used a 12-2 run to chip away at the lead over the remaining five minutes of the quarter. Adrianna Dowdy sunk a layup with two seconds remaining in the half as the Pilgrims led 32-26 at the half.
The teams traded points for most of the third quarter until the Pilgrims were able to gap the Hawks with the help of six quick points by Daleia Boutwell. Boutwell's spree pushed the New England College lead to 16 at 48-32 at the end of the third quarter. NEC managed the time remaining with their lead and even stretched the lead more. The lead was too large to overcome for the Hawks as the Pilgrims earned their first conference championship is 26 years.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
-This was the third meeting all-time. The Pilgrims are now 3-0 against the Hawks.
-Today marks the third meeting of the season. The Pilgrims won all three matchups.
-Rene Hudson was named the NECC Championship Tournament Most Valuable Player. Jaz Laracuente joined her on the all-tournament team. Joining Hudson and Laracuente on the All-Tournament team were Cassidy Harrison and Sarah Ware from Becker, Tia Torio from Eastern Nazarene, and Le'Sandra Turner from Mitchell.
The Pilgrims will wait for the NCAA draw show, which will be on Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.