BEVERLY, Mass. - The Curry College women's basketball team saw their season come to an end against the first seeded Endicott Gulls in the semifinal round of the Commonwealth Coast Conference women's basketball tournament. The Colonels end their season with an overall record of 15-12 while ending CCC play at 10-6. The Gulls enter the championship with an overall record of 18-8 with a 13-3 league mark.
Curry got the ball first, as freshman center Peyton Perine (Fairfax, Va.) won the opening tip for the 21st time in 27 games. Curry would soon turn the ball over on a travel, however, allowing sophomore Shannon Gilbert (Easton, Conn.) to put in the first points of the game as Endicott took a 2-0 lead. Gilbert would double the lead on the following possession, but Curry found their first points soon after, thanks to a driving layup from senior captain Emily Irwin (Billerica, Mass.). The score would remain tight over the remainder of the quarter, as the lead flipped sides on six occasions, with neither team securing more than a one possession lead, after Gilbert's four early points. With 38 ticks remaining in the first frame, a jumper from freshman Lexi Gellerman, breaking the third tie of the matchup and giving the hosts an 18-16 edge heading into the first break.
After the teams combined to miss their first four shots of the second quarter, a stretch which also saw a trio of turnovers, Gilbert found the score sheet again to push the Gull's lead to four at 20-16. Irwin answered just over a minute later to return the deficit to one possession at 20-18, but the Colonel offense struggled to find good looks, as they failed to score over the next three minutes. Facing an eight point hole, Perine drove home an emphatic layup, drawing a foul on the basket, but failing to convert the old fashioned three point play. With the ball back and trying to protect a 26-20 lead, Endicott got a boost from junior Mikaela Rogers (Haverhill, Mass.), who followed her own miss with an offensive rebound. The spark turned into a flame, though, when the extra possession ended with a three from junior guard and CCC Player of the Year Emily Pratt (Gardner, Mass.), sending the electric home crowd into an uproar. The teams would trade points over the final three minutes of the half, but solid shooting by the Gulls, which included five more Pratt points, kept the advantage with Endicott headed into the intermission as the score sat at 35-25. Each team saw large contributions from a pair of players in the first half, as the Colonels received 23 of their 25 points from the combination of Irwin and Perine, while Pratt and Gilbert came together for 23 of their own for the Gulls.
As the second half got underway, the Colonels once again began the frame with possession, making it count thanks to a layup by Perine to make the score 35-27. Curry briefly cut the lead to six after an Irwin triple, but this would be as close as the visitors could get in a quarter which was all Gulls. Following the Colonel score, the Gulls broke off a 9-0 run to increase their edge to 13 at 45-32. After a pair of free throws and a bucket by both sides, Endicott once again flexed their muscles and rolled to a 55-38 lead, thanks to a 6-2 run to wrap up the third quarter.
The fourth quarter would show encouraging signs for the visitors, as the first possession of the frame saw junior Sam Bamford (Easton, Mass.) find Perine for a midrange jumper to start the scoring, but Endicott quickly put a plan in place to chew as much clock as possible to protect their lead. Up against the ticking clock and a 15 point hole, Curry saw some tough-luck bounces go the Gulls' way, as a pair of back to back offensive rebounds gave Endicott a pair of extra possessions, which allowed the hosts to wind the clock down under eight minutes. With Endicott's offense focused on keep the clock turning, Curry managed to put together a bit of a streak of their own, rattling off an 8-2 run to pull the game to within 12 at 60-48 with just under two minutes to play. This is as close as the Colonels could get, however, as the following possession saw the fifth and final foul called on Bamford, knocking her out of the remainder of the contest. A jumper by Emma Tierney (Wolfeboro, N.H.) was followed by Perine getting her to foul out, then splitting a pair of free throws to bring the score to 62-49, but Gilbert dealt another dagger to Curry by finding Rogers inside who hit a layup while drawing the fourth foul on Irwin. Rogers converted the and-1 with the full support of the crowd at her back, but the final blow to the visitors came soon after, as Irwin, fighting for a rebound off her own misfire, was assessed her fifth foul. The Colonels continued to fight without the senior, notably by freshman Amanda Leal (Tyngsboro, Mass.) working her way down the lane and to the free throw line, where she would convert both shots. The points would be the last of the game, however, as the Gulls held the ball and watched the clock expire, sending them to the championship with a 67-51 victory.
The Colonels were led by Irwin and Perine in the losing effort, who both topped the 20 point threshold, with 25 and 22, respectively. Perine, the CCC Rookie of the Year, registered a double-double with 11 rebounds, while Irwin, the CCC Defensive Player of the Year, led all players with 4 steals. Bamford topped the team with a pair of steals while Leal recorded the Colonels' only block. The Gulls boasted three double-digit scorers in the win, with Gilbert's 17, Pratt's 15, and Rogers' 11. Junior Kaleigh Putnam pulled down eight boards for Endicott, while Rogers and senior Catie Lipscomb posted four assists apiece. Lipscomb's three steals and Tierney's trio of blocks led the charge on the defensive end of the floor for the hosts. Despite putting up equal marks in points in the paint, fast break points, and points off turnovers, the teams were split drastically in rebounds and assists. Endicott grabbed a 41-28 advantage on the boards while dishing out 16 helpers to Curry's four, which translated to the final point totals.
Despite their league year coming to a close, the Colonels can look forward to what should be an exciting 2019-20 season. Despite losing senior starters Irwin and Molly Plunkett (Quincy, Mass.), Curry will return a pair of freshman starters, to go along with 13 other returning players, including several players hampered by injuries this season.
With the win, Endicott earns a spot in the CCC Championship game and will host third-seeded Western New England on Saturday, February 23 at 2:00 p.m. in the final. The Golden Bears upset the CCC two seed and defending champion University of New England by a score of 67-59 in Thursday's other CCC semifinal. Endicott won both regular-season meetings with WNE. The loss ends the season for Curry.