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Women’s Basketball Holds Off University of New England, 61-54, in Jackie Smith’s Coaching Debut

Meggie Corcoran

BIDDEFORD, Maine – Senior Margaret Corcoran (Milton, Mass.) and junior Sami Ashton (Clinton, Conn.) contributed 15 points apiece as the Connecticut College women's basketball team won its season opener by a 61-54 score over the University of New England at the Hampton Inn Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday evening.

Jackie Smith earned her first-ever head coaching victory as the Camels' new mentor on the sidelines in a game that featured six ties and six lead changes. The Nor'easters went ahead for the first time when Ashley Coneys converted a layup to make it 6-5, but the Camels responded on the next play and never trailed for the remainder of the opening frame. Ashton hit back-to-back buckets down the stretch to give the visitors an 18-13 advantage through 10 minutes of action.

The University of New England fought back and once again moved ahead by a point at 19-18 when Madalyn Sanborn set up Jocelyn Chaput on a fast break, but the lead was once again short lived, as Corcoran grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer and put the Camels ahead by sinking a layup. Senior Caroline Pangallo (Fairfield, Conn.) drove in for an unassisted basket to help give her team a 27-24 advantage at recess.

The third quarter played out just like the first two frames, as the Nor'easters hung around and temporarily gained the upper hand when Sabrina Johnson sank two shots from the charity stripe to break a 35-35 tie. But once again, the Camels quickly seized the lead when junior Dana Muckstadt (Dover, Mass.) found senior Kylie Caouette (Ashburnham, Mass.) for a trey just 24 seconds later. Muckstadt then set up Caouette for another trifecta and then drilled a free throw to keep the Camels ahead after 30 minutes of play.

Connecticut College (1-0) got a 3-pointer from sophomore Casey Walsh (Phoenixville, Pa.) on the first play of the fourth quarter and never trailed for the remainder of the contest despite being challenged for the entire 10 minutes. The Nor'easters tied the game at 45s and 47s, but Caouette drained her third shot from downtown with 5:53 remaining to give her team the momentum for the remainder of the contest. Corcoran and Pangallo each hit free throws down the stretch to help the Camels eventually earn the seven-point win.

Corcoran scored 15 points by shooting an efficient 5-of-6 from the field, including 1-of-1 from long range, and 4-of-6 at the stripe for Connecticut College. Ashton netted 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting while also corralling seven rebounds, dishing out three assists, and recording two steals. Muckstadt pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds and redirected two shots.

UNE (1-2) was paced by Jocelyn Chaput and Coneys. Chaput scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Coneys netted 16 points.

Connecticut College will next face WPI in the championship game of the Hampton Inn Tip-Off Classic on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.