WESTON, Mass. – Regis College used its height advantage and depth to take the early lead, and then the Pride held on to defeat Simmons University, 60-49, Wednesday night in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference women's basketball game at Higgins Court.
Katryna Veasey (Quincy, Mass.) shot 7-of-13 from the field as she led the Pride with 17 points, plus she grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots. Maura Russell (Braintree, Mass.) hit three three-pointers, including her 54th three-pointer of the season to break her own single-season school record, to finish with 13 points and three steals, and Arie Searcy (Santa Rosa, Calif.) contributed 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocked shots.
Neither team scored in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the game until Simmons's Cassandra Stapelfeld broke through with a jumper to give the Sharks their only lead of the night. Layups by Searcy and Russell put the Pride on top and then, after a layup by Rebekah Carroll tied the game at 4-4, Nikki Bitinaitis (Cromwell, Conn.) hit two free throws to give Regis the lead for good.
Regis prevented Simmons from hitting a field goal in the final three minutes of the first quarter, and then Veasey scored three points in the first minute of the second quarter to extend the Pride lead to 15-7. The Sharks scored six unanswered points to close their deficit to two at 17-15, but Regis responded with a 9-3 scoring run, capped by a three-pointer from Russell, to take a 26-18 lead into halftime.
The Pride opened the third quarter with seven unanswered points on another three-pointer by Russell followed by layups by Taylor Iorfino (Monroe, Conn.) and Sam D'Angelo (Woburn, Mass.) to increase their advantage to 33-18. Simmons fought back with seven unanswered points of their own, capped by a traditional three-point play by Stapelfeld, to close to within eight at 33-25.
Down by 10 heading into the fourth quarter, Simmons scored the first six points two minutes into the period to draw within four at 43-39, but Veasey stopped the Shark run with a layup and two free throws. Stapelfeld hit consecutive baskets to once again draw the Sharks within four, but Russell's record-setting three-pointer started a quick 6-0 Pride run that brought their lead back into double digits.
Simmons (6-18, 3-8 GNAC) made one final push late in the quarter, as baskets by Lauren Brandau and Stapelfeld closed the Regis lead to 54-47, but the Pride would go 4-for-4 from the free throw line and prevent the Sharks from scoring again until the final buzzer.
Stapelfeld led all players with 20 points, plus she dished out a team-high three assists, while Brandau finished with 12 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals. As a team, Simmons shot just 30.8 percent (20-of-65) from the field, including 2-of-17 from behind the three-point line, and 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from the free throw line.
The Pride ended up shooting 41.2 percent (21-of-51) from the field, including 3-of-10 from behind the three-point line, and 68.2 percent (15-of-22) from the free throw line. Regis won the rebounding battle, 45-36, led by Iorfino with nine boards, as the Pride overcame 17 turnovers that led to 15 Simmons points.
With the victory, Regis clinches a spot in next week's GNAC Tournament. However, Simmons will not qualify for the conference tournament and will conclude its season by hosting Johnson & Wales Saturday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m.
Regis (10-14, 6-5 GNAC) completes its regular season slate against University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Feb. 16, starting at 3:30 p.m.