BABSON PARK, Mass. – Senior captain Nicki Wurdeman (Rowley, Mass.) became the all-time leading scorer in Babson College women's basketball history on Tuesday night, as she netted 24 points in a 65-59 victory over visiting Colby College in a matchup of regionally-ranked powers at Staake Gymnasium.
With their 13th straight win, the Beavers, ranked third in New England by the NCAA and 17th in the country by D3hoops.com, improved to 21-2 overall. Meanwhile, Colby, ranked 10th in the NCAA regional poll, fell to 18-6 on the season.
Wurdeman's game-high 24 points came on 9-of-18 shooting from the field and a 6-of-12 showing from the free throw line. The senior forward and two-time All-American tied the program's all-time scoring record of 1,927 points held by Babson Hall of Famer Michel Merten Diodati '95 just before the half, and then moved into sole possession of first place with an offensive rebound and putback less than a minute into the second period. Following the game, Merten Diodati was on hand to present the Babson senior with flowers in honor of the achievement. Wurdeman, who also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots in the win, now boasts 1,940 points in her brilliant career.
Also played well for the Beavers were senior captain Kathleen King (Framingham, Mass.), who posted 14 points, eight boards, and a season-high three blocks, and junior Sarah Collins (Weymouth, Mass.) who added eight points, 14 caroms, and five blocked shots. First-year guards Erin Young (Westwood, Mass.) and Mary O'Connor (Middletown, R.I.) added strong efforts off the bench with six points apiece, and senior Kelly McKenna (Shrewsbury, Mass.) contributed two points and three key defensive rebounds.
Colby received 18 points apiece from senior captain Rachel Mack (Augusta, Maine) and junior Diana Manduca (Portland, Maine), as well as nine points off the bench from junior Jayde Bennett (Lynn, Mass.). Mack, who shot 7-for-11 from the floor, also pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, while senior captain Aarika Ritchie (Lee, Maine) tacked on four rebounds and three assists.
In a back-and-forth first half that featured four ties and 11 lead changes, the Mules took their largest lead of the contest after a pair of Manduca free throws made it 21-17 in favor of the visitors with 7:37 remaining in the period. However, it was all Babson for the remainder of the half, as the Beavers closed the session with a 14-2 run over the final seven and a half minutes. O'Connor scored all six of her points during that stretch, which gave the hosts a 31-23 cushion heading into the break.
The Beavers threatened to pull away for good early in the second stanza, as Wurdeman sank back-to-back lay-ups to push the lead to 12 at 35-23. However, Colby refused to go quietly, pulling to within two after a 17-7 burst over the next six minutes. Mack scored seven points during the run, including a three-pointer to cap it and make it a 42-40 game with just under 13 minutes left to play.
Consecutive buckets from King and Wurdeman extended the Beavers' advantage back to six before a lay-in by Bennett pulled the Mules to within four, 46-42, with 10:40 to go. Babson then embarked on a 14-6 spurt that featured points from five different players as the hosts re-established a double-digit lead at 60-48 with 3:32 on the clock.
Colby made one final push to get back to within two possessions, as Manduca scored five points during an 11-3 run that trimmed Babson's lead to just four, 63-59, with 51.4 seconds left in the game. However, Collins converted a tough lay-up off a beautiful entry pass from King on the right side to push the margin back to six with 36 seconds remaining, and the Mules would come up empty on their final possession as the Beavers held on for the hard-fought 65-59 win.
Babson returns to action on Wednesday night with a home conference tilt against Clark at 7 p.m., while the Mules are off until Saturday, when they host Williams College in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC Championship Tournament at 3 p.m.