Hartford, Conn. – Senior forward Hannah Brickley (Melrose, Mass.) totaled a game-highs 23 points and added nine rebounds and sophomore guard Alexa Menard (Wallingford, Conn.) made the go-ahead three-pointer from deep on the left wing with 1:24 left in the game to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 79-76 victory over the visiting Connecticut College Camels in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Women's Basketball Championship Quarterfinals this afternoon at Oosting Gymnasium. Trinity, seeded No. 4 and hosting a league tournament game for the first time, improves to 16-8 and will face top-seeded Tufts in the NESCAC Semifinals next Saturday, March 1 at Tufts. Connecticut College sees its season end at 14-11. Trinity had beaten the Camels, 58-48, two weeks ago, but the visitors won their remaining two regular season games after to earn the No. 5 seed and the right to face the Bantams today. The Bantams will be making their second appearance in the NESCAC Semifinals, having reached the second round previously in 2008-09. No. 2-seeded Amherst will play No. 3-seeded Bowdoin in the other NESCAC Semifinal game at Tufts on March 1, and the winners will face off in the league finals on March 2 at Tufts with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
Trinity trailed, 74-73, with 1:43 remaining after a 15-foot jumper by senior center Caitlin Cimino (Falmouth, Maine), but Menard drilled her only basket of the game after a kick-out by Brickley to put Trinity ahead for good at 76-74. Camel senior forward Tara Gabelman (Irvington, N.Y.) came up short on a reverse lay-up on the ensuing Connecticut College possession, and Brickley grabbed the rebound. Trinity senior guard Abby Hancock (Casco, Maine) sank two free throws for a 78-74 Bantam lead, but Cimino connected on another jumper with 13 seconds left to bring the Camels back within a basket. Trinity senior guard Moriah Sweeney (Ramsey, N.J.) made one of two from the line, forcing Connecticut College to go for a three-pointer to tie as time ran out, and a long try by Camel freshman guard Liz Malman (Mendham, N.J.) fell short.
Connecticut College had started the game strong, building a 9-4 lead 5:09 into the game, but Trinity scored 10 of the next 12 points and led, 14-11, after a drive by first-year guard Sheena Landy (Durham, Conn.) with 11:05 on the clock. The game seesawed back and forth until the break, and a jumper by Camel junior guard Kaitlyn Cresencia (New Providence, N.J.) sent the teams to the locker rooms tied at 36-all. Brickley and Cimino matched each other with 12 points at intermission, while Bantam sophomore center Mackenzie Griffin (Stamford, Conn.) added 10 off the bench.
Hancock opened the second half with an old-fashioned three-point play inside, and Trinity stayed ahead until the 12:42 mark although never by more than four points. Connecticut College sophomore center Jenna Lovett (Tolland, Conn.) scored a layup for a 52-51 Camel lead, but Trinity answered immediately on a trey by sophomore guard Christina Raiti (Plainview, N.Y.) from the right wing. The Camels took the lead briefly again at 64-63 with 7:49 on the clock after a drive by sophomore forward Willa McKinley (Westport, N.Y.), but the home team answered right away once again with a Brickley layup. Baskets by Gabelman and Cimino put the Camels up by one point twice more between the 4:03 and the 3:02 marks, but Trinity answered both times, once on a jumper by Brickley and the second time on a drive-and-dish from Hancock to Griffin in the lane.
Trinity shot 48.4 percent from the field (30-62) and made four of five attempts from long range in the second stanza after missing its only two tries from beyond the arc in the first half. Griffin, Hancock, and senior forward Shantel Hanniford (Nantucket, Mass.) joined Brickley in double figures in scoring with 12, 11, and, 11 points, respectively, while Griffin also pulled down six rebounds, and Hanniford had five boards. Sweeney finished with five points, nine boards, and a blocked shot, and Menard notched four rebounds and a team-high four assists. Cimino paced Connecticut College with 18 points to go with five rebounds, five blocked shots, and four assists, while Gabelman finished with 15 points, a team-high eight boards, and four assists. Malman had 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, and a block, and junior guard Carlee Smith (Willimantic, Conn.) contributed 10 points, four rebounds, and a game-high seven assists.