Worcester, Mass. – On a night when the Clark University women's basketball team desperately needed a win, the Cougars came up huge – knocking off Wellesley College, 54-51, to not only stay alive in the New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) playoff hunt but deliver head coach Pat Glispin her 500th career coaching victory on Wednesday evening.
Glispin, who is now in her 30th season as the head coach at Clark, becomes just the 22nd coach in the history of Division III women's basketball to accomplish the feat. During her tenure, she has led the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament seven times, including the 1989 Elite Eight, won three ECAC titles, had 11 seasons with 20 or more wins and has been named league coach of the year on two occasions (1997, 2004).
"I just think this is about the players and coaches who have been a part of this with me," said Glispin. "This belongs to them and the tradition of Clark women's basketball and a lot of people beyond me."
In addition to Glispin, senior Megan Grondin (Cumberland, Maine) became the 20th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points. Grondin, who joins classmates Emily Reilly (Marlboro, Mass.) and Ashleigh Condon (Hull, Mass.) as current 1,000 point scorers on the Clark roster, pushes the number of 1,000 point scorers under Glispin to 18.
"I wasn't expecting it, but I'm definitely relieved," said Grondin, who now has 1,003 career points in 101 all-time games. "All I want is to finish the season strong and play for my teammates. They deserve all the credit."
Clark, which had lost four straight games, entered a house of horrors so to say when squaring off with the Blue. The Cougars had dropped five in a row to Wellesley and eight of the last nine, including a 74-61 home loss earlier this season.
After a 25-25 halftime score, Clark (9-13, 6-11 NEWMAC) opened the second period with six straight, capped off with the Grondin bucket that gave her the 1,000th point of her career. Leslie Leong stopped the run with a three-pointer, her third of the night, to trim the lead to 31-28 at the 17:13 mark. Leong followed with two free throws on the next possession to pull the Blue with one point.
The Cougars surged again, using full-court pressure to force three Wellesley (14-7, 11-6 NEWMAC) turnovers in route to 10 quick points, capped off by a three-pointer from Brooke Brennan (Weston, Mass.). Natalie Anderson ended the drought with two free throws, and Katie Shulenberger recorded a conventional three-point play to trim the lead to 41-35 with 13:39 remaining.
Clark answered again with five straight, including another trey from Breeann Redman (Bristol, Conn.), for a 46-35 advantage. After a Wellesley bucket, Esther Cohn (Chapel Hill, N.C.) converted on a four-point play, giving the Cougars their largest lead of the night at 50-37 with 9:56 remaining.
The Blue battled back, mounting a 12-0 run over the next eight minutes to cut the lead to 50-49. Leong and Morgyne Weaver led the charge with five points and four points, respectively, with a Kendall Bianchi jumper trimming the lead to one point with 3:49 left.
Condon stopped the bleeding for Clark with a layup at the 1:46 mark, but Meghan Sargent followed with a bucket on the Blue's next possession to put the score at 52-51 with 1:21 left.
Clark held strong on the defensive end, then two Condon free throws opened a three-point gap with eight seconds remaining. A last second three from the Blue was off the mark, and the visitors held on for a 54-51 win.
Cohn paced the Cougar attack with 14 points and 11 rebounds – her third double-double of the season and the tenth with double figure rebounds. Condon, meanwhile, recorded 12 points, five rebounds and a game-high five steals, while Grondin finished the game with 11 points.
Leslie Leong topped all scorers with 22 points, while also adding 11 boards to notch her fourth double-double of the season. .
Elsewhere for the Blue, Weaver tallied 12 points to go along with a team-high five assists, while Shulenberger rounded out the Wellesley half of the box score with eight rebounds on the night.
Both squads return to NEWMAC action on Saturday, February 15th. Clark will travel to MIT for a 2:00 p.m. matchup and Wellesley will visit WPI for a 3:00 p.m. game.