NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Mitchell College women's basketball team opened the new year with an 80-75 overtime defeat against New England College on Saturday afternoon in a New England Collegiate Conference clash at the Yarnall Athletic Center.
Rene Hudson led the Pilgrims with 17 points and five assists before fouling out late in regulation. Brianna Pierreval and Kayla Goldring chipped in 15 points apiece to help fuel an offense that shot 42 percent from the floor.
Amina Wiley led all players with a double-double of 21 points and 24 rebounds to pace Mitchell. The Mariners got all but three of their points from the starting lineup as Kelsey Hernandez added 19 and Le'Sandra Turner and Leilani McClellan contributed 16 and 15, respectively.
Mitchell led for the majority of the opening half and took its largest lead at 26-18 following a jumper by Turner with 8:58 remaining. Hudson helped close the gap with 13 first-half points as NEC pulled within 36-32 by the break. Turner and McClellan each netted 11 points in the first half to lead the Mariners.
The game remained tight in the third quarter as the Pilgrims tied the game twice before taking a 46-44 lead on a bucket by Ericka Pratt with 3:53 left in the stanza. Hudson buried a three just over a minute later to increase the margin to eight, but the Mariners finished the period with five straight points to trail by three heading into the fourth.
The final minutes of regulation provided plenty of drama. With 1:11 to go Wiley had a chance to tie the game with a three-point play but failed to convert the free throw. Hernandez then forced a tie-up to give possession back to Mitchell, and she later drained a floater in the lane to put the Mariners on top 66-65 with 25 ticks left.
Hernandez made a pair of free throws to extend the margin to 68-65 with 15.5 seconds left, but Goldring quickly answered back with a layup off the inbounds play on the other end to make it a one-point game. The Pilgrims promptly fouled Wiley with 11.5 seconds remaining, and after she split the freebies, NEC went the length of the floor and tied the game on a bank shot by Kayla Ramsay with 3.4 seconds to go. Mitchell came up short on its final attempt in regulation and the game proceeded to overtime.
Without their leading scorer for the extra frame, the Pilgrims got big contributions from Goldring and Asia Jones. The former scored the first basket of the OT and finished with four points in bonus time while the latter netted all five of her points in overtime.
Mitchell trailed by four in the final minute of OT but made it a one-possession game thanks to a basket by Turner. After Jones made one of two at the line to extend the lead to three, the Mariners had a chance at the tie in the closing seconds but turned the ball over. Jones then sealed the win with a pair of free throws for the final margin.
Mitchell (4-7 overall, 0-1 NECC) will next play at Becker College on Tuesday, January 7 at 7 p.m. NEC (8-3 overall, 3-0 NECC) returns to action at home against Wellesley College on Tuesday at 5 p.m.