NEWMAC Tournament Preview: Clark at Springfield

NEWMAC Tournament Preview: Clark at Springfield

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Familiar Foes
In a series that dates back to 1993, the Cougars and Pride have met 44 times, with Springfield holding a 31-13 edge in the all-time series. Included in that ledger is their current eight-game winning streak over Clark which dates back to January 4, 2014.

So, We Meet Again
Tonight's matchup will be the sixth all-time postseason meeting between the two squads, with the Pride holding a 3-2 advantage.

Oh, We've Got History
Among those five postseason showdowns are two in the conference championship game – first in 2004 and then again in 2005. In the 2004 contest, the Cougars raced out to a 41-25 halftime lead on their way to a 68-59 victory behind 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks from Ashley Auclair. The 2005 rematch saw the fifth-seed Cougars in the title showdown after upsetting top seed Mount Holyoke in overtime. Springfield, meanwhile, playing as the three seed, defeated second seed Babson and then rolled in the championship game, 79-59. They had five players in double figures, led by Tara McCarthy's 19 points and four three-pointers.

Killer G's
Clark head coach Pat Glispin and Springfield bench boss Naomi Graves are two of the game's coaching titans. Combined they have  920 wins, 17 seasons with 20 wins or more, five league coach of the year awards and 13 trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Balancing Act
Clark enters the tournament as the only team in the conference with three student-athletes averaging double figure points. Sam O'Gara (Worcester, Mass.) leads the team at 13.3 and she is followed by Aretha Sullivan (Worcester, Mass.) at 12.8 and Ogechi Ezemma (Hope Valley, R.I.) at 12.7.

The Rise Is Real
The Scarlet and White enter the postseason with a 13-12 record – more wins than their last two seasons combined.

Wild Things
Haley Wilder
(Rindge, N.H.) has upped her play as of late. In her last three games, she is averaging 11.0 points per game. Included in that stretch is a career-high 17 in a win over Emerson.

Sophomore Sensation
Ogechi Ezemma
has made the jump as a sophomore. She is third on the team in scoring (12.7) – up more than four points from a season ago. She ranks fourth in the league in rebounding (9.5) and first in blocks (1.6).

Thanks For The Help
After her 11-for-11 performance from the charity stripe in last Wednesday's 57-48 loss to the Pride, Aretha Sullivan has moved into tenth place on the all-time free throws made list (285) at Clark and now ranks ninth in all-time free throw percentage (.729), dropping current assistant coach Marissa Garrity to tenth (.703).

There When You Need Her
Gwyneth Ivory
(Ashland, Mass.) has never missed a game in her collegiate career. When she enters the game tonight, it will mark the 101st consecutive appearance for her. Incredibly, Marge O'Brien, who played on two NCAA Final Four teams in the early 1980's, played in a school record 116 games. Garrity is also on this list as well – ranking second in games played (114).

Swat Sisters
Ogechi Ezemma
and Sami Dokus (Littleton, Mass.) are the only two teammates in the conference to average at least a block per game each and are a huge reason why the Scarlet and White lead the NEWMAC in blocked shots. That duo is also tied for eighth on the school's all-time blocked shot list with 68 rejections apiece.

Pick Pockets
The Cougars also lead the NEWMAC in steals per game (10.9), led by Sam O'Gara, who ranks second in the league (3.0) and Ezemma, who sits in seventh (2.1). O'Gara tends to get her steals in bunches as she has six games with five steals or more including a season-best seven in a win over Wheaton back on January 7.

Dime Dropper
Another area in which Sam O'Gara shines is passing. She leads the conference in assists per game (4.7) and has had three games this season with ten or more, including a 15-point, 11-assist, six-steal double-double in a win over Wellesley on January 25.

Hittin' The Books
Four members of the Clark team were named NEWMAC Academic All-Conference. Sami Dokus (Littleton, Mass.), Ezemma, Maya Kerstetter (Northampton, Mass.) and Kacey Legare (Chicopee, Mass.) all received the academic honor.

What's Next
The winner of tonight's contest will face the winner of the Coast Guard-WPI quarterfinal game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in a game hosted by tournament top seed, Babson College.

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