CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – The Pine Manor College women's basketball team fell to non-conference Smith College, 84-56, to open the 2016-2017 season, Tuesday evening. The Gators drop to 0-1 on the season while the Pioneers open the year at 1-0.
Both squads were evenly matched in the first quarter, shooting an identically 25% from the field. Sophomore forward Kennedy Guest-Pritchett (Fairburn, Ga.) and junior forward Samantha Alakai (Pukalani, Hawaii) dominated the glass for the Pioneers. The front court duo combined to register five of the team's six offensive rebounds while also tallying four points each.
Smith out-rebounded Pine Manor, 14-11, in the first quarter but the Gators were able to hang tough behind juniors, guard Shaquanda Middleton (Savannah, Ga.) and forward Erica Jones (Atlanta, Ga.). Middleton was force in the post, pulling down four rebounds and tallying three points while Jones led the way with four points to push the Gators into the second quarter, trailing by only two, 11-9.
The Pioneers began the second quarter with a 9-0 run to take a commanding, 20-9 lead. Durin the opening three minutes junior Paige Marquez (San Francisco, Calif.) found senior guard Mandy Castro (San Diego, Calif.) at the perimeter for one of her two three-pointers in the period. On Smith's next offensive possession, Marquez found Guest-Pritchett under the basket for an easy lay-up to increase their lead to nine and force the Gators to call their first time-out of the period. Coming out of the time-out Guest-Pritchett ripped down a defensive rebound and nine seconds later pushed the Pioneer lead to 11 points.
Midway through the period, Monroe cut the deficit back down to single-digits draining a trey from sophomore center Taylor Martin (Merritt Island, Fla.). Smith pushed the lead back to 10 nearly a minute later but the Gators went on a mini 5-0 run to pull within five points of the Pioneers, 22-17, but it was as close as they would get for the remainder of the half.
With just over two minutes remaining in the half, Hanley converted the quintessential three-point play knocking down a free-throw to extend Smith's lead to 11 points, 30-19. The Pioneers held on an took their largest lead of the game, to that point, into the locker room, 34-21.
When the teams returned the court, momentum remained on the side of the Pioneers, shooting 58.8% from the floor as well as 75.0% from the charity stripe. Guest-Pritchett continued to dominate offensively and defensively, netting seven points and three rebounds as they outscored the Gators, 31-19 in the third to take the 65-40 advantage.
However, the story of the game was Marquez, who recorded one of the best games in her collegiate career. In addition to being one of four Pioneers to registered double-figures, the Northern California native not only came three rebounds shy of a double-double but was also three assists shy of the elusive triple-double – tallying seven rebounds and seven assists.
Guest-Pritchett led the way for the Pioneers posting a double-double, netting a game-high 18 points while pulling down 10 rebounds. Castro came off the bench and finished with 13 points – shooting five-of-eight from the field while Hanley matched Marquez's 10 points with 10 points of her own.
Senior forward Shaneka Monroe (Jersey City, N.J.) was nearly perfect for the Gators from beyond the arc, draining four-of-five from long distance for 12 of her game-high 18 points while Middleton followed up with 17 points and seven rebounds. Martin out-rebounded Middleton for the team lead in rebounds, ripping down eight while first year forward Nyjayah Gibson (New Haven, Conn.) came off the bench to record six.
Pine Manor returns to the hard-court this weekend when they travel to Milton, Mass. to tip-off against Curry College at 3:00 p.m. Smith will also be in action this Saturday, November 19th when they host non-conference Daniel Webster College. Tip-off's at 2:00 p.m.