NEWPORT, R.I. – The Salve Regina University women's basketball team had four players finish in double figures, as the Seahawks defeated the Gulls of Endicott College, 77-61, at the Rodgers Recreation Center on Saturday afternoon to capture their seventh Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship title in the past 11 seasons.
Senior Lindsay Shorey (Ashland, Mass.) paved the way for Salve Regina, leading all players with 20 points on 10-of-19 shooting, adding eight rebounds and a game-high six blocks. Sophomore Marissa Pendergast (Medfield, Mass.) compiled the game's only double-double, scoring 13 points while adding 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and a block in a fine all-around performance. Junior Kaitlyn Birrell (Scituate, R.I.) also played well, scoring 16 points with seven rebounds and a game-high seven assists, while freshman Laura Anne Dinan (Monterey, Mass.) hit several huge shots in the second half, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, leading all players with four treys in the win.
The Gulls were led by sophomore Samantha Crough (Cohassel, Mass.) who scored a team-best 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-8 from downtown. Sophomore Jennifer White (N.H.) compiled 16 points and eight rebounds, while senior Nicole Heffernan (Londonderry, N.H.) added eight rebounds and a team-high six assists for the visitors.
Crough gave the Gulls the early lead, draining a 3-pointer on the first shot attempt of the game to put Endicott on top, 3-0.
The lead didn't last long, as the Seahawks exploded for a 12-2 run over the next three and a half minutes, receiving six points from Shorey and four from Birrell, to take a 12-5 advantage.
The Seahawk lead swelled to 10 after a 6-0 run sparked by a pair of hoops from Shorey, giving Salve Regina a 23-13 edge with 12 minutes to go in the half.
The Gulls fought back, scoring 10 of the next 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers from White sandwiched around two jumpers from Crough to bring Endicott back within two at 25-23.
Salve Regina answered right back with a 10-2 run of its own, as the sea-saw battle continued. Pendergast got the streak started with four consecutive points, before capping the run with a layup to put the Seahawks ahead, 35-25.
Leading 37-29 with the final seconds of the first half ticking away, Pendergast hit a layup as the buzzer sounded to send the Seahawks into the break with a 10-point advantage, 39-29.
The Seahawks dominated the paint in the opening frame, outscoring the Gulls 24-4, while also holding a 16-3 edge in points off of turnovers.
The Gulls started the second half by quickly chopping the Salve Regina lead down to four after just three and a half minutes of play.
After Endicott crawled back to within three on a layup by White at the 12:44 mark of the period, Salve Regina's Laura Anne Dinan drilled consecutive three-pointers to give the Seahawks a 55-46 advantage.
Salve Regina still led by nine, when Dinan connected on her fourth trey of the half, finishing the period 5-of-5 from the floor and 4-of-4 from downtown, to put the Seahawks on top 62-50 with six and a half minutes to go.
Salve Regina took their 12-point lead into the final three minutes when Endicott decided to start putting the Seahawks at the line. However, Salve Regina responded by hitting 11-of-14 from the charity stripe to put the game away and capture the CCC Championship title by a final score of 77-61.
The victory earns the Seahawks an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III Tournament. The Seahawks will receive their official seed and first round opponent during the NCAA selection show airing at 2:30 p.m. on Monday. Please visit www.NCAA.com for more information on the tournament.