The Newbury College women's basketball fell to visiting New England College, 67-48, in their 2011-12 season opener, Wednesday evening. Pilgrims senior forward Rachel Williams (Chapel Hill, N.C.) was one rebound shy of a double-double, registering a game-high 18 points with nine boards.
New England jumped out of the gate early and took advantage of a plethora of costly Newbury turnovers in the first nine minutes. The Nighthawks finally got their offense clicking midway through the first half when the Pilgrims got crossed up on defense. Senior guard Kendra Bannister (Washington, D.C.) found a wide open Catherine O'Connell (Quincy, Mass.) on the right block for the quick and easy lay-up.
Bannister kept the Nighthawks in the contest, ripping down all seven of her rebounds in the first half including snatching two away from the waiting hands of defenders. The Nighthawks made a valiant comeback attempt and appeared as if to swing momentum over to their side outplaying the Pilgrims, 20-18, after O'Connell's lay-up but the damage had already been done.
Despite being down by 18 when they returned to the court in the second half, Newbury showed resilency. Six minutes into the period sophomore forward Katie Haney (Winchendon, Mass.) picked the pocket of Williams at the top the key, leading directly to a fast-break lay-up from freshman guard Nephie Marsh (Brockton, Mass.).
In her first collegiate game, Marsh was a tremendous sparkplug off the bench along with junior forward Jalisa Fields (Bronx, N.Y.). Rejuvenating the Nighthawk offense, as well as defense, the duo knocked down a team-high 12 points while Marsh, also, dished out four assists.
However, it was difficult to stop the Pilgrims offense for a multifactorial number reasons. Not only did Williams appear to be every where on the court but first year guard Kayla Lawlor (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) became a major threat. Midway through the second half when Bannister and O'Connell double-teamed Williams at the top of the key, the North Carolina native found Lawlor open at the perimeter for a long range jumper.
The loss drops Newbury to 0-1 to begin the season while New England opens the winter at 1-0. Both teams will be in action this weekend at the Gordon Classic Tournament on November 18th and 19th. The Nighthawks will tip-off against the Lyndon State Hornets at 8:00 p.m., Friday evening before a chance of redemption against the Pilgrims on Saturday November 19th at 1:00 p.m.
Freshman center Jamie Vankoeverden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) entered the game late in the second half and registered her first block of her collegiate career on a midrange jumper from New England sophomore Katarina Muska (Brimfield, Mass.).