Solis Scores 1,000th as Smith Tops Emerson; Pioneers Claim First Outright NEWMAC Title

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BOSTON, Mass. - Paulina Solis reached the 1,000-point milestone courtesy of a game-high 16 points to lead the Smith College basketball team to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season title with an 81-68 victory over Emerson on Saturday afternoon. 

The Pioneers earned their first outright regular season crown and snapped Babson's four-year run. Prior to this season, Smith had claimed a share of the NEW 8 title in 1988-89 along with Brandeis, Wheaton and WPI. The conference office will release the official tournament pairings later today.

Solis became the 11th Smith student-athlete to reach the milestone and fourth in three years. She joins Phoebe Jacob and teammate Rosa Drummond, who also reached the plateau as a junior, as well as Dasen Woitkowski who did it in three years as a Pioneer after transferring from UMass.

Smith standouts also included Sydney Parkmond (15 points, 7 rebounds) and Drummond (15 points). Lions were led by Kelsey Johnson (13 points, 7 rebounds), Kristin Brice (12 points, 6 rebounds) and Elissa Chojnicki (12 points, 7 assists, 3 steals). 

The Pioneers finished 15-10 and 15-5 against NEWMAC opponents.  In their first season of NEWMAC play, the Lions posted a 9-16 record and went 4-16 in-conference play. 

The Lions spread the wealth along the way to a 40-39 halftime lead.  Kelsey Johnson, Kristin Brice, and Elissa Chojnicki scored eight points apiece, with bench support from Catherine Cloutier, who scored seven points in the first half.   EC faced a tough defense in Smith.  Emerson capitalized on every opportunity given, and were perfect from the free-throw line in the opening half. As a team, the Lions shot an astounding 62.5% from the field, and went 4-5 from beyond the arc in the first half.

It was a back-and-forth affair from the jump, with Smith leading by a slight margin until Cloutier drained a 3-pointer to tie it up at 14-all with 13:21 remaining.   Janissa Delzo scored a quick four points, converting on two free-throw shots and driving for a layup in the paint to bring EC ahead 28-23 with just under seven minutes remaining in the half.

The second half featured tough defense from both teams.  The Lions kept it close until the 7:00 mark, when Smith began to pull ahead as their all their shots seemed to fall, including a late triple by Solis to punctuate the win.

(Portions Courtesy Emerson)