Wellesley Basketball Topped by #1 Babson in NEWMAC Semis

Wellesley Basketball Topped by #1 Babson in NEWMAC Semis

BABSON PARK, Mass. - Babson's Nicki Wurdeman and Sarah Collins each recorded double-doubles to help the top-seeded Babson College Beavers defeat visiting fourth-seed Wellesley College, 64-40, in the semifinal round of the 2012 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Women's Basketball Tournament at Babson's Staake Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, the 14th-ranked Beavers (24-2) advance to Sunday's championship game at 1 p.m., where they will meet the winner of Saturday's second semifinal between second-seeded Smith and sixth-seeded WPI.

With the loss, Wellesley drops to 13-12 and will await a possible bid to the ECAC New England Tournament when the field is announced early next week.

Collins and Wurdeman were sensational in the win for Babson, combining for more than half of the team's points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. Collins finished with 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting while also adding 14 boards, six blocks, and four assists. Wurdeman chipped in with 14 points, 11 boards, three blocks, and a team-high six helpers, as she enters Sunday's title game needing just 12 points to reach the 2,000 mark in her illustrious career. Babson shot 51.0 percent (25-49) from the field in the contest, helping to overcome a 47.6 percent clip (10-21) from the foul line and 22 turnovers.

Wellesley was paced by sophomore Leslie Leong, who recorded team-highs of nine points and seven rebounds, and the first-year tandem of Courtney Jackson and Meghan Sargent, who contributed eight points apiece. Junior Malia Maier added six points and five assists while also leading the Blue's valiant defensive effort with six steals and two blocked shots.

The two teams exchanged lengthy runs throughout the first half, beginning when Babson scored 11 straight to open up an 11-2 lead six minutes into the contest. Wellesley responded with eight straight points, including three-pointers from Leong and Jackson, to get back to within one at 11-10 with 11:26 to go in the period, but the Beavers embarked on a 12-0 burst over the next eight and a half minutes to push their advantage to 26-12.

Babson eventually increased its lead to as many as 14 after a conventional three-point play by Wurdeman with 2:26 left in the first half, but Sargent drained back-to-back three-pointers to help the Blue close the period with a 8-2 run that cut the hosts' lead to 28-20 heading into the break. Collins led all players with 10 points and nine caroms at the midway point for Babson, while Leong had seven points and four rebounds for Wellesley.

The Blue trimmed the margin to six twice early in the second half - once when Maier knocked down a trifecta to make it 29-23 33 seconds in and again when Maier sank two free throws to make it 31-25 with 18:48 left in the game. However, those would prove to be the final points for Wellesley for the next seven minutes, as Babson put the contest out of reach with a decisive 16-0 run. First-year Erin Young  hit back-to-back three-pointers and Wurdeman and Collins added four points apiece during the outburst, which gave the hosts a commanding 47-25 lead with 11:30 remaining. Wellesley would get no closer than 16 the rest of the way as the Beavers came away with the eventual 64-40 win.

Sunday will mark the fourth straight appearance in the NEWMAC Finals for Babson, which has won the conference title in each of the last three seasons. Tip-off for the championship game is set for 1 p.m.