Pride Claims Fifth Straight NECC Title

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WESTON, Mass. - For the fifth time in as many seasons, the Regis (Mass.) women's basketball team is the New England Collegiate Conference champion. The Pride completed the five-peat on Saturday afternoon by defeating the second-seeded Blazers of Elms College 92-49 at Higgins Court on the campus of Regis. 

With the win, the Pride (22-6) claims an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, and will find out its opponent on Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Elms sees its season come to an end at 17-11.

The Pride used a massive second quarter to propel themselves to another conference crown. Leading the Blazers 19-15 after one quarter, the Pride pulled away in the second 10 minutes by outscoring the visitors 32-7. The Pride defense held Elms to just 1-for-13 (7.7 percent) shooting in the quarter, with the one make coming on a jumper from junior guard Mackenzie LaRochelle (Chicopee, Mass.) at the 8:26 mark.

Meanwhile, the Pride couldn't miss in the second quarter, knocking down 9-of-13 from the floor and converting on 12-of-15 from the free throw line. Junior forward Brittany Stone (West Bridgewater, Mass.) led all scorers in the opening half with 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting, while teammate Shannon Hayes (Billerica, Mass.) totalled 15 points on 5-for-6 to lead the Pride to a 51-22 advantage going into the locker room.

The highlight of the game came shortly after the half in the early stages of the third quarter. Senior guard Mikayla Murphy (Attleboro, Mass.) game away with a theft on the defensive end of the floor, and got out on a fast break 2-on-1 with Hayes. Murphy froze the Blazer defender and dished it off Hayes behind the back for an easy lay-in to give the Pride a 62-28 lead. The assist, one of Murphy's game-high seven, sent the Higgins Court crowd into a frenzy, as the hometown fans were beginning to sense what was coming. The Pride outscored the Blazers 26-15 in the third and 15-12 in the fourth to seal the title. 

Hayes and Stone were two of five Pride players to reach double figures on the afternoon, a season high for the Red and Gold. Hayes led all scorers with a career-high 23 points, while shooting an impressive 9-for-10 from the field. Stone turned in a strong day as well, scoring 19 points on 7-for-8, and was named the NECC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Senior Amanda Hawkesworth (Abington, Mass.) and sophomore Melissa Rogers (Billerica, Mass.) each scored 13 points for the Pride, while sophomore Sam D'Angelo (Woburn, Mass.) netted 11 points. 

For the Blazers, LaRochelle led the Elms offense with 18 points on the afternoon. Seniors Emily Burr (East Hartford, Conn.) and Alexandra Marques (Newington, Conn.) each had seven points for the Blazers in the loss.

After the game, the following players were named to the New England Collegiate Conference 2017 All-Tournament Team:

Ciara McKissick (Charlton, Mass.) - Becker
Katie Walsh (East Islip, N.Y.) - Wheelock
Emily Burr - Elms
Mackenzie LaRochelle - Elms
Shannon Hayes - Regis
MVP: Brittany Stone - Regis