Fifth seeded Simmons College outscored fourth seed Emerson College 23-4 in the last 4:08 of the second half to take an 85-68 victory in the first round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at Emerson College on Tuesday evening. Senior guard Julianna Eagles (Quincy, Mass.) led all scorers with 34 points to lead Simmons to the post-season victory. Emerson ends its season with a 13-13 record, while the Sharks advance to the tournament's semifinal round.
Simmons led for all but 14 seconds in the first half as the Sharks took a 41-38 advantage into the locker room. Emerson rallied to tie the score at 31 with 3:59 remaining on a pair of Andrea Kosek free throws, but freshman guard Liz O'Connor (Milton, Mass.) answered with a pair of her own to re-establish the Simmons lead.
Emerson forged the fourth tie of the game on a Kathy Andrade layup to make the score 55-all with 10:07 remaining. The Lions then took their first lead of the night on two Andrade free throws. Eagles then nailed a three-ball to give Simmons a 58-57 advantage. Andrade again had the answer for the Lions as she hit yet another layup, but Eagles responded with a pair from the charity stripe for a 60-59 Shark lead.
A layup from senior forward Stephanie Fox (West Springfield, Mass.) upped the lead to three, but Emerson's Amy Sherman drilled a three of her own to tie the game at 62. Andrade nailed a layup at the 5:15 mark to give the Lions what proved to be their last lead of the night. Simmons then went on a 10-0 run capped by a three-pointer from sophomore Jessica Thomas (East Sandwich, Mass.), and although Andrade hit a jumper to bring the Lions to within six, it was as close as Emerson would come to the Sharks for the remainder of the game.
Simmons was outstanding from the free throw line throughout the game as the Sharks hit 26 of 30 from the line for 87%. The Sharks also had the advantage in the turnover department, committing 15 but picking up 22. Simmons was 9-18 from long range in the game.
In addition to her 34 points, Eagles went 11 for 11 from the free throw line on the night. O'Connor added 22 and Fox had 19. Andrade led Emerson with a season-high 25 points, while Lauren Zanibonni had a double-double with 13 points and a dozen rebounds.
Simmons (17-8) advances to play at top-seeded Emmanuel College in the semi-finals on Thursday evening at 7:00pm. Emmanuel defeated eighth seed Rivier College to advance.