Gators Hang On to Top Mount Ida, 71-64

NEWTON, Mass. -- Pine Manor College women's basketball opened 2014 with a 71-64 victory over Mount Ida College on Thursday afternoon at the Mount Ida Athletic Center in Newton, MA. With the victory, Pine Manor improves to 9-1 on the season. Mount Ida falls to 3-9 overall with the setback.

The Gators received a double-double from Ari DeJesus (Providence, R.I.) thanks to a game-high 20 points and 19 rebounds from the sophomore forward. In total, four Gators finished in double-figures, with Natasia Franklin (Windsor, Conn.) adding 13 points, while Alexis Lee (Akron, Ohio) scored 12 and Maria Vaughan (Okinawa, Japan) added 10 points of her own.

Mount Ida’s Jen Rafuse (Brockton, Mass.) also finished with a double-double in the contest, scoring 17 points while grabbing a team-high 10 boards. Abby Fedigan led the Mustangs in scoring with 19 points on five of nine shooting. Fedigan finished the contest perfect from three-point range, knocking down all three of her attempts. Mount Ida freshman Stephanie Champoux (Tewksbury, Mass.) also finished with 17 points in the contest.

Champoux opened the scoring in the contest, giving the host Mustangs an early 2-0 lead before Pine Manor countered with a 6-0 run to take an early 6-2 advantage. However, both teams struggled to find their rhythm early in the contest, as the score remained close until the closing minutes of the first half.

With Pine Manor leading 21-19, the Gators used an 8-0 run that included back-to-back three pointers from sophomore classmates Sybil Lynch (Hoboken, N.J.) and Lee to build a 10-point first advantage, at 29-19, with 3:41 to go before the half.

However, Mount Ida countered, closing out the first half on a 12-2 run capped by a three-pointer from Fedigan to tie the game at 31-all at halftime. Fedigan scored 12 of Mount Ida's 31 first half points en route to her team-high 19 in the contest.

The teams exchanged baskets to open the second half, remaining deadlocked at 39-39 through the opening five minutes. Back-to-back layups from sophomore Khiyana Issac (Boston, Mass.) briefly helped the Gators to gain a 43-39 lead with 13:04 to play. However, a pair of free throws from Rafuse and a layup from Champoux again tied the contest at 43-all.

With the contest tied for the seventh time on the night, Issac again added a layup, her third in a row, to put the Gators ahead for good.

Layups from DeJesus and Franklin on either side of a Mount Ida three-pointer from Rafuse, pushed the score to 49-48 just past the midway point of the second. Neither team led by more than four points until Lee hit a three-pointer and then followed it with a layup and a free throw on an ‘and-one’ play with 8:31 to play. Lee’s back-to-back three point plays came as part of a 14-2 PMC run that helped the Gators open up a 63-50 advantage with just 4:20 to play.

However, Mount Ida once again fought back to close the gap, using baskets by Champoux, Fedigan, Rafuse and freshman Marysa Dwyer (Quincy, Mass.) to go on a 10-0 run and pull within three points at 63-60 with 35 seconds to play.

The three-point deficit was as close as the Mustangs would get as the comeback bid ran out of time and PMC converted on all of eight of its free throw attempts in the final minute to secure the 71-64 victory.

Mount Ida will travel to Division I UMass- Lowell on Monday night Costello Athletic Center in Lowell, MA. Pine Manor will be on the road this Saturday when they take on the College of New Rochelle at 2:00 PM.

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