NEW LONDON, Conn. – Mitchell College built a big enough lead in the third quarter to hold off a Bay Path University rally in the fourth in a 59-57 victory in New England Collegiate Conference women's basketball action on Monday night at the Yarnall Athletic Center.
The Mariners (8-13 overall, 8-6 NECC) outscored the Wildcats 20-8 in the third quarter to lead 50-39 heading into the final stanza. Bay Path (2-17 overall, 1-13 NECC) cut into the margin in the fourth, making it a one-possession game at three different points in the final 3:27. However, Mitchell never surrendered the lead and picked up its third straight league win.
Jessica Shepherd led all scorers with 17 points and added 10 rebounds to pace the Mariners. Ariana Carter made her first career start and responded with eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Camille Staggers came off the bench to contribute eight points and eight boards while Kate McCormack handed out a game-high nine assists.
Brenna Roy led three Bay Path players in double figures with 14 points and sank four three-pointers in the contest. Dallas Jackson tacked on 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists before fouling out late, and Paige Marshall finished with a double-double of 11 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
A 9-0 run in the opening quarter gave Bay Path its biggest lead of the night at 13-7. The Wildcats led 15-11 after one but saw the margin disappear in the early stages of the second. A jumper in the paint by Tiana Edwards tied the game at 15-15, and the Mariners later led by as many as five following a free throw by Staggers with 2:16 to go in the half.
Roy caught fire in the final 2:00 to put Bay Path back on top. She buried three-pointers on three consecutive trips down the floor to turn a five-point deficit into a three-point lead. A fast-break layup by Staggers beat the halftime buzzer and trimmed Mitchell's deficit to 31-30 at intermission.
The Mariners made a move three minutes into the second half when a jumper by Ashleigh Beauford sparked a 13-2 run. Six different players scored for Mitchell during the spurt, which concluded with a triple by Allegra Jones that provided the game's first double-digit lead at 47-37 with 2:17 to go in the period.
Trailing 50-39 heading into the fourth, the Wildcats kicked into gear with just over 5:00 remaining and ripped off a 9-2 run. A three Roy capped the stretch as Bay Path moved within three at 55-52 with 3:27 to play.
With Mitchell still clinging to the three-point advantage, Carter later came up big in a key defensive sequence that saw her record a pair of blocks to protect the cushion. Her three rejections for the game were a career high.
After a trey by Jordan Lohneiss bumped the Mitchell lead to six, Jackson responded with a triple of her own to bring the Wildcats right back with 1:19 remaining. Bay Path then had two chances in the final minute to tie the game but came up empty. A free throw by McCormack made it a two-possession game with 14 seconds to go, and a buzzer-beater by Marshall wasn't enough to make up the difference.
Mitchell will next host Wheelock College on Wednesday, February 8 at 5:30 p.m. Bay Path returns to action at home against Newbury College on Wednesday at 8 p.m.