BY RYAN HATHAWAY // FEB. 22, 2015 //
The Curry College women’s basketball team secured the third seed heading into the Commonwealth Conference playoffs after winning at home Saturday afternoon against Salve Regina on Senior Night.
Curry hasn’t defeated Salve since 2003.
“The seniors knew we hadn’t beaten them since they’ve been here,” coach Francis Elms said. “Especially when we got down in the second half, it was their experience that held it together rather than panic.”
The final score of the regular-season finale was 57-43, but Curry trailed for the majority of the game even though it held a four-point lead going into halftime. “When you’re down eight points in the second half, you start thinking it could go either way,” said senior captain Kylie Beltz, who finished with a game-high 21 points, including 11-for-12 free throws made.
Beltz hit a three-pointer midway through the second half that reduced the Salve Regina lead to two. Curry junior Shannon Griffin made two free throws to tie the game with eight minutes to go, and freshman Nicole Rice hit the go-ahead basket 30 seconds later. The Colonels were able to hold the lead for the rest of the game.
Griffin finished with 11 points and five rebounds, and Rice finished with eight points, four rebounds and three blocks. Salve Regina junior Meaghan Harden scored a team-high 16 points—including 4-for-7 behind the arc—and had seven rebounds.
Curry senior captain Jessica Kender said losing wasn’t an option. “This was our Senior Night, and we were gonna win.”
The victory means Curry will play its first game of the playoffs at home this Tuesday, an important factor for Kender. “It’s nice to play at your own gym with your own fans. It’s a completely different atmosphere.”
Coach Elms is confident in his team heading into the playoffs. “When we win in the first round, our second game will be against a team that is not as good as [top-seeded] UNE (University of New England). After the second round I expect to play UNE in the championship, and if our girls play well, we can do it.”
Fouls and turnovers may have been a big part of Salve Regina’s loss. Salve committed 22 turnovers and 24 personal fouls. The Colonels were able to convert that into 35 points. Curry’s second unit was also able to outscore the Seahawks bench, 26-1.
Curry will host a rematch with the Seahawks in the first round of the CCC Tournament, on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.