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PSC downs Babson to capture ECAC title

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State College overcame an 11-point second half deficit Sunday at Foley Gymnasium, and the Panthers went on to capture the ECAC New England Division III Women's Basketball Championship with an 81-69 decision over Babson College.

Trailing 47-36 with 16:45 to play in the second half, PSC went on a 22-4 burst over the next six minutes to take a seven-point lead (58-51). Babson got the margin down to three points (62-59) with seven minutes to play, but the Panthers scored 10 of the next 11 points to make it a 12-point game (72-60) with 2:39 remaining and the hosts never looked back.

The win gives top-seeded PSC its first ECAC women's basketball title in its fourth appearance in the tournament. The Panthers finish the year at 21-8, matching the school record for wins in a season and posting their third straight 20-win campaign. Third-seeded Babson, who upset Norwich in the semifinals, completes an outstanding season at 20-10.

The Panthers used a balanced effort in Sunday's title game, as all four PSC juniors reached double figures in the scoring department. Forwards Courtney Albert (Hudson, N.H.) and Heather Adey (Nashua, N.H.) posted double-doubles, Albert finishing with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds and Adey scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 boards. Jenn Pelletier (Derry, N.H.) contributed 13 points, and Whitney Morin (Derby Line, Vt.), who tossed in 29 points in Saturday's semifinal win over Keene State, scored 19 points Sunday and received the Tournament Most Outstanding Player award.

Junior Joanna Maher (North Easton, Mass.) led the Beavers with 16 points and classmate Patricia Leahy (Dorchester, Mass.) scored 13 points. Junior Ingrid Miller (East Lyme, Conn.) collected 13 rebounds to go along with her eight points.

Babson led most of the first half, outrebounding the Panthers 31-21 and holding an eight-point advantage (38-30) at the break. But after the Beavers took an 11-point lead in the first three minutes, PSC regained the momentum and got the crowd of 650 into the game. Pelletier and Morin each hit key three-pointers, and Adey and Albert both got strong baskets underneath. PSC, which was outrebounded 31-21 in the first half, had a 29-19 advantage on the boards in the second half to even the count at 50-50 for the game.

"I told them that rebounding was going to be the deciding factor in the game.," said PSC head coach Lauren Lavigne. "They started to contain, and all five started to box out. That was the difference in the game. This is an exciting time for Plymouth State College. Not just for our program but for the whole institution."