MADISON, N.J.—Senior Giovanna Pickering (Hull, Mass.) finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals to help Babson College defeat 21st-ranked Messiah College, 59-53, in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament on Friday night at the Ferguson Recreation Center.
With its fourth straight win, Babson (23-5) advances to the second round for the fifth time since 2010. Messiah, which started the season 16-0, sees its year come to a close at 25-3.
Senior Jennifer Narlee (Medfield, Mass.) recorded her fourth double-double of the year with 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, while classmate Taylor Russell (Braintree, Mass.) added 11 points, six boards and four steals. Sophomore Katherine Tamulionis (Foxboro, Mass.) led all players with five steals in the win.
Senior Gillian Glackin (New Providence, Pa.) finished with 11 points and 13 boards to lead the Falcons. Sophomore Maci Thornton (Clarion, Pa.) also scored 11 points but was just 3-of-12 from the floor with six turnovers.
The Green and White opened the game with a 7-0 run and then used a key 14-3 spurt midway through the second quarter to lead by as many as 11 in the opening half. Narlee and first-year Emily Bonifacic (Allendale, N.J.) combined for 10 points during the run, and fellow first-year Jacqueline Jozefick (Milford, Conn.) buried a three-pointer in the closing minute of the stanza to give the Beavers a 34-24 edge at the break.
Back-to-back hoops by Russell and Pickering gave Babson its biggest lead of the game at 38-24 just over a minute into the third quarter. Messiah, which went 8-of-12 at the free throw line in the frame, pulled within eight twice on three-pointers by sophomore Kristen Smoluk (Palmyra, Pa.), and cut its deficit to 52-45 on a foul shot by Thornton entering the fourth.
The Falcons limited the Beavers to just one field goal over the first five-plus minutes of the fourth, and pulled within two on a layup by sophomore Alecia Rohrer (Manheim, Pa.) with 4:50 to play. Pickering came up with a steal and hoop two possessions later to push the Babson lead back to 56-52, and then found Russell for a baseline jumper with 1:07 left to make it a five-point game.
The Green and White got consecutive stops and Tamulionis went 1-of-2 at the free throw line with 13 seconds left for the final margin.
The Beavers shot 40.3 percent and outscored Messiah 32-10 in the paint. They also scored 22 points off of 23 Falcons' turnovers and finished with a 42-38 edge on the glass.
Messiah shot just 27.8 percent from the floor, which included a 2-of-13 showing in the fourth quarter.
Babson will take on 25th-ranked FDU-Florham in the second round on Saturday at 5 p.m.
• The Beavers are 4-0 on neutral courts and 12-1 away from home this season.
• Babson is 20-1 this season when holding a lead entering the fourth quarter.
• The Beavers are 17-2 when forcing 18 or more turnovers.
• With 15 boards on Friday, Narlee is now one of just six Babson players to pull down more than 300 rebounds in a campaign. She is now fifth on the program's single-season list with 312 caroms this season, and ranks 13th all-time with 635 rebounds in just 72 games.