Smith Tops MIT, 45-28

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A 15-2 run during a seven-minute span in the second half helped power Smith College to a 45-28 win over host MIT in a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women’s basketball game on Saturday. Lauren Sascha Burton posted 11 points and a game-high two blocks for the Engineers (2-10, 0-6 NEWMAC). Jessica Welk paced the Pioneers (6-4, 3-2 NEWMAC) with 11 points as six of them came during the late rally to go along with five rebounds.

Smith registered six unanswered points during the first five minutes of action. MIT slowly chipped away at the deficit, as back-to-back layups from Laura Sascha Burton put the hosts in front, 10-8, with 8:58 on the clock. Daron Dean knotted the contest just over a minute later but free throws by Stephanie Cooke returned the slim two-point margin to the Engineers with 6:03 remaining. A three-point play by Dean gave Smith the lead for good as it entered the break with a 23-16 advantage.

The early stages of the second stanza were a defensive battle as both sides combined for six points. A free throw by Burton narrowed the gap to four (25-21) at the 12:37 mark. Welk drained a three-pointer on the Pioneers’ ensuing possession while Burton followed with a layup that kept the Cardinal and Gray within striking distance. On its next trip down the court, a jumper by Welk sparked Smith’s pivotal run that put the game out of reach.

Cooke and Anna Merrifield each grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds as Cooke added three steals and two assists. Merrifield contributed six points while Sally Simpson posted five points and three steals.

Amanda Zakoske fell short of a double-double as she tallied nine points and a team-high nine boards in addition to two steals. Elizabeth Belbruno chipped in seven points and two steals for the Pioneers.

Both squads will continue conference play next week. Smith will host the U.S Coast Guard Academy on Monday, Jan. 11 while MIT will make the trip to Wheaton College on Wednesday, Jan. 13.