HENNIKER, N.H.- The fourth-seeded Eastern Nazarene College women's basketball team dropped a narrow 66-64 decision at top-seeded New England College Thursday night in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Tournament semifinals.
The Lions wrap up the season with a 19-8 overall record while the Pilgrims improve to 18-9 on the year and advance to the NECC Championship game Saturday, February 23.
Tia Torio (Manteca, Calif.) poured in a team-best 22 points, grabbed six boards, and dished out five assists. Courtney Barba (Pismo Beach, Calif.) notched 12 points and four rebounds. Kyra Fleharty (Lewistown, Mont.) finished with 10 points and three boards.
The visitors started the game with nine straight points to construct a 9-0 edge with 6:25 left to play in the first quarter.
Eastern Nazarene stretched its advantage to 19-8 with 1:17 remaining in the opening frame on a layup by Fleharty.
The Lions sported a 19-10 lead after 10 minutes of action.
The home side cut the deficit to 24-23 with 3:25 on the clock in the second quarter with a 10-0 run, capped off by a basket by Rene Hudson.
New England College seized its first lead of the night with 23 seconds to go in the second period, 27-26, on a pair of free throws by Brianna Pierreval.
Eastern Nazarene reclaimed a one-point edge in the waning seconds of the first half as Torio tossed in a layup, 28-27.
The Lions shot 30% from the floor and connected on 2-of-4 from behind the arc in the opening two frames. The Pilgrims posted a field-goal percentage of 40.7% in the first half to go with 1-for-6 shooting from three-point range.
The home team grabbed a four-point lead with 6:42 left to play in the third on a three-pointer by Rene Hudson, 36-32.
The visitors regained a one-point edge with 5:34 on the clock in the third quarter as Torio splashed a trey, 40-39.
New England College tallied eight straight points to capture a 47-40 advantage with less than three minutes left to play in the third frame.
Torio canned a three-pointer in the final seconds of the third to cut the Lions' deficit to 51-49 heading into the fourth.
After a back-and-forth opening six minutes of the frame, the Pilgrims claimed a 62-57 lead with 3:36 to go in regulation on a layup by Hudson.
Eastern Nazarene battled back to knot the score at 64-64 with 41 seconds left to play as Barba banked in a layup.
Kayla Goldring and Charisse Thomas each netted one free throw down the stretch to lock up the narrow win for New England College.
Hudson paced the Pilgrims with 25 points and 14 rebounds on the night while Jaz Laracuente netted 16 points off the bench.