Sports basketball

MIT Women’s Basketball places second in NEWMAC Championship

Engineers defeat Babson College 78–72 to advance to the final where they face an unfortunate 70–56 loss to Smith College

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MIT Women’s Basketball player Christina Antonakakis ’22 dribbles around a defender in Sunday’s NEWMAC Championship game against Smith College.

MIT Women’s Basketball played the semifinal and final of the NEWMAC Championship over the past week. The team successfully defeated Babson College 78–72 in the semifinal, played at the Staake Gymnasium in Babson Park on Friday, Feb. 28, advancing to the final. The final was played Sunday, March 1 at the Ainsworth Gymnasium in Northampton against Smith College. The final featured a 70–56 defeat for MIT. Over the two games, Christina Antonakakis ’22 and Jocelyn Luizzi ’21 displayed excellent performances.

The game against Babson College began with MIT in the driver’s seat as they started the game with a 15–4 run and ended the first quarter with a 22–12 lead. In the second quarter, MIT kept up their defensive walls and maintained their lead, ending the first half with a score of 38–31.

The Beavers featured a comeback in the third quarter, which they began with an 18–6 run, claiming a 49–44 lead with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter. The Engineers did not fall back, thanks to a three-pointer by Annika Sougstad ’22 and a back-and-forth scoring spree, bringing MIT to a 56–55 lead by the end of the quarter.

The same competitive back-and-forth scoring continued between the two teams in the fourth quarter, with five ties and four lead changes. Towards the end of the quarter, the Engineers eventually sparked a 6 point scoring spree to get them a 72–68 lead with 1:04 remaining. Babson College attempted a comeback in the final minute, but excellent free throw shooting under pressure by Antonakakis, who shot 6-6 free throws, sealed the win for MIT. Antonakakis was the best performer for the Engineers, as she tied the program record for points by scoring a stellar 33 points. Winning this game, MIT Women’s Basketball reached the NEWMAC finals for the third consecutive year.

The match against Smith College started on the wrong foot for MIT as the Pioneers began the game with eight unanswered points. Their momentum continued as they began a scoring spree to end the quarter with a 21–4 lead. MIT tried to cut the deficit in the second quarter, but could only reduce the lead to 14 points to end the quarter at 34–20. MIT continued to chip away in the third quarter, putting together an 11–3 run, credit to a six-point rally by Kylie Gallagher ’21 to end the quarter at 47–38. Smith brought back its first quarter momentum to the fourth quarter as they embarked on a 6–1 run to start the final frame. With 6:15 to play, MIT tried to spark another comeback with two consecutive three-pointers within a minute. Despite these, MIT could not get back into the game as the Pioneers responded with an 8–3 run to get back to double digits. Smith College kept this double-digit lead to end the match at 70–56. Luizzi, with her 16 points and career high fifteen rebounds, was the best performer for Engineers.

This game ended an excellent season for MIT as they were declared NEWMAC runners-up.