North Adams, MA- MCLA junior Courtney Pingelski scored a career high 26 points and classmate L'Rae Brundige knocked down the deciding free throws with 11 seconds left to lift the Trailblazers women's basketball team past visiting Utica College 53-52 this evening in the Amsler Campus Center. The Trailblazers snap a three game slide and improve to 2-3 on the season while the Pioneers are also 2-3 with the setback.
The final 1:07 saw four lead changes as both teams made some key plays. When Utica's Coralynn Maxwell converted a layup with 1:07 left, the Pioneers led 50-49. Pingelski answered with a short jumper in the paint with 45 seconds left to give the Trailblazers the edge at 51-50. After running the shot clock down, Utica's Alaina Tripp drove the lane and her basket with 18 seconds left gave the Pioneers the lead again 52-51 forcing a Trailblazer timeout. MCLA forced the ball inside to Brundige and when she turned to shoot, drew a foul. She drained the first and then calmly swished the second for a 53-52 lead with just 11 seconds remaining. Out of a Pioneer timeout, Ashelyne Babb drove the lane but couldn't convert and after a loose ball, Utica was awarded possession with just 2.7 seconds on the clock.
The Pioneers attempted to throw a lob pass to Nicole Herringshaw, however MCLA got a hand on the ball and the clock expired before Utica could attempt a game winning shot.
The game was close throughout as neither side led by more than six points. After a 14-14 first quarter, MCLA took a 30-26 advantage into the locker room. Pingelski had 12 points in the half as both teams shot poorly from the floor.
Utica held MCLA to just one field goal, a Pingelski three pointer, for the first 7:38 of the third quarter as they built a 38-33 lead. MCLA rebounded late in the quarter though as Kylah Langston banked in a triple and Pingelski knocked down one of her own. Heading to the fourth quarter, MCLA held a slim 41-40 advantage. The fourth quarter was nip and tuck the entire way.
Pingelski was 10-23 from the floor which included a 6-12 performance from beyond the arc. She added 8 rebounds, which was a game high. She was the only Trailblazer in double figures. Brundige ended with 8 points for the Trailblazers, while Mckenzie Robinson didn't score, but collected 7 rebounds and 7 assists. The Trailblazers shot just 34% in the win.
Utica was paced by Ashley Mayo's team high of 12 points. She was just 4-14 from the floor however. The Pioneers shot just 28% from the floor and were just 13-20 from the free throw line.
Oddly, for MCLA, Brundige's free throws were their only two attempts of the contest.
MCLA is back in action on Friday when they host Southern Vermont College at 5pm. Utica will challenge Misercordia on Saturday.