NEWPORT-Down by 8 with under 5:00 minutes left in the contest, the North Country Falcons rallied to forge a 48-48 tie only to see the Tide close out the contest with a 10-3 run. NCU trailed by a mere 52-51 margin with 17 seconds left before the Tide iced it from the foul line, padding the final tally.
NCU got off the opening tap quickly. Anna Bingham drove for a quick two and on the Falcon’s next possession Noel Pinard stepped back and drilled a fourteen footer for a quick home team lead.
The Spaulding Crimson Tide’s junior sniper Connor Lafrance started out hot. She hit a pair of three balls and added a scoop shot inside as she fired in eight of the visitors first ten points.
Bingham answered for NCU however as she scored off the nifty eight foot jumper and then found the range from 22 feet for the trifecta. Senior Emma Joslin has been hampered by an ankle injury for most of the early going this year. That ankle has responded to treatment and Joslin showed her old self on this day. She grabbed a defensive rebound and with a head of steam dribbled past two Tide defenders on her way to a coast to coast hoop and after one stanza complete, North Country led 15-14.
Falcon junior wing Anna Bingham started the second quarter with a running one hander off glass for two. The 5’6 hoopster found the goal on the next possession as well, nailing a ten footer off glass that drew contact but no foul, 19-14 NC.
Spaulding’s senior center Aliza Benoit stands 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. She got position inside and began a steady series of low post power, helping her teammates put together an 11-3 surge that had the Falcons on their heels. When all was said and done the first half ended with the Tide up 25-22.
The fireworks were just beginning. Joslin came out firing and hit a sixteen footer. Bingham finished a two on one for two and NC was within one at 28-27. Bingham hit on a drive. Joslin covered a twisting move inside off the window and the Falcons regained the lead. With the boards back near even thanks to the efforts of juniors Michaela Stanley and Britni Jewer, NC trailed by a single point at 36-35 as both squads headed into the fourth quarter.
After a Tide bucket inside from Lafrance, the still hot Joslin hit a bomb from the wing, making it 38-38 with over six minutes to go.
Spaulding responded with inside power, running off an 8-0 streak, making it 46-38. NC immediately answered. Joslin hit from 12 feet and Bingham drove for two, cutting the gap to 46-40. Moments later the Falcons’ Desiree Coffin made a strong move to the basket for the score and after Joslin hit two from the charity stripe, the lead had been sliced to one at 46-45 with just over three minutes on the clock.
Tide sophomore Kailey Stevens laid in a soft lay-up that kissed the rim and dropped. Emma Joslin, feeling it by now, confidently unloaded another long three from the right wing hitting nothing but the bottom of the net and the Falcons had caught Spaulding at 48 all.
NCUHS had two chances on possessions after their defense had given them back the ball. Stanley stole a lob pass and Joslin stripped the Tide’s Stevens for another turnover. They missed the front end of a one and one and the next time down court they fired up a wild three that missed iron.
The Tide worked the ball inside to Benoit and with 58 seconds left she scored inside for a 50-48 Tide lead. Benoit backed her way in for another field goal 20 seconds later for a 52-48 Spaulding margin. Joslin wasn’t finished yet. She drove through the lane, kissing the ball off glass, and converted the foul shot making it 52-51 with 24 seconds left.
Lafrance hit two from the line for a 54-51 difference and after a Falcon miss from three to tie, a debatable intentional foul was called on Coffin with ten seconds to go. Spaulding salted the contest away hitting four more free throws for the deceptive final score of 58-51.
North Country moves to 4-3 on the season. They were paced by Bingham with 23 while Joslin added 21. Coffin added four while the foul ridden Pinard finished with three.
The Crimson Tide move to 5-4 and were paced by Benoit with 16. Lafrance added 14 with Stevens netting nine.