AMHERST, Mass. -- Behind 26 points and 13 rebounds from senior forward Beth Suggs (Bath Maine), the University of New England Nor'Easters posted a 67-58 victory over Bridgewater State University in the opening round of the 2013 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament on Friday evening on the campus of Amherst College.
Sophomore forward Kelly Coleman (Portland, Conn.) added 15 points and 14 boards for UNE (25-4) who will advance to the tournament's second round and will take on either host Amherst or Farmingdale State College. Bridgewater ends the season with an overall mark of 23-4. The Bears' 23 victories marks the second highest single-season win total in program history.
Suggs finished 11 for-15 from the floor for the Nor'Easters who recorded their first NCAA Tournament victory.
BSU senior guard Michaela Cosby (Walpole, Mass.) paced Bridgewater State with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Cosby wraps up an outstanding career with 1,092 points as she ranks seventh on the Bears' all-time scoring list.
Junior forward Megan Boutilette (Charlton, Mass.) added eight points and 12 rebounds (seven offensive) to go along with five steals. Boutilette finished the year with 103 steals, three shy of Melissa Murphy's program mark of 106 set in 2005-2006. With her 12 boards, Boutilette increased her career total to 630 as she moves into fourth place on the Bears' all-time rebounding list.
UNE held Bridgewater to 31% shooting (21-67) for the game including 4-for-21 (19%) from three-point range. BSU also struggled at the free throw line converting just 12 of 21 (57%) foul shots. The Bears, however, kept the game close due to intense defensive pressure as they forced 24 turnovers.
UNE finished with a 49-33 rebounding edge while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor (24-for-53). The Nor'Easters scored 64 of their 67 points either in the paint (46) or at the free throw line (18). UNE's lone outside basket came on a Meghan Gribbin (Windham, Maine) three-pointer with 13:46 remaining in the first half which, at the time, gave the Nor'Easters a 9-6 lead.
Gribbin's three-pointer jump-started a 9-0 run as UNE took a 15-6 lead as the clock ticked under ten minutes in the opening stanza. A Cosby traditional three-point play pulled the Bears to within six (19-13) with 7:11 remaining, but the Nor'Easters answered with an 11-0 run to take their biggest lead of the half, 28-13. UNE would head into the intermission with a 31-20 advantage.
The Bears rallied to start the second half, posting a 6-0 run as Boutilette's layup cut the deficit to five at 31-26 with 18:17 still to play. Two minutes later it was a one-possession game as BSU junior guard Jenna Williamson (Ludlow, Mass.) drilled a trifecta to make it 32-29, but Suggs responded with an old-fashioned three-point play as the teams began to trade baskets.
Still leading 39-34, UNE grabbed momentum back with a 6-0 run as Suggs' layup on a nice pass from freshman guard Sadie DiPierro (South Portland, Maine) made it 45-34 with 11:40 to go. BSU cut the lead to five at 51-46 on an Elisha Homich (Ludlow, Mass.) triple and Cosby layup with 7:17 to play, but Suggs brought it back to double figures with back-to-back buckets, her layup on the break with 3:36 to go putting UNE up 59-48. Making free throws down the stretch, the Nor'Easters kept their lead at seven-plus to seal the win.
In addition to Suggs and Coleman's efforts, freshman guard Lauren Hayden (Chantilly, Va.) added seven points and nine rebounds for UNE while Gribbin dished out nine assists to go with 11 points.
Homich chipped in with 11 points and three assists for the Bears.
Notes: Bridgewater is 2-10 all-time in NCAA Tournament play…The Bears last tournament victory came in 1985, an 80-59 first round win over Rhode Island College...UNE is 1-3 all-time in tournament play.