UMass Beacons earned first-ever NCAA tourney spot with title win

The UMass Boston women’s basketball team celebrated their Little East Conference Tournament Championship on Feb. 24 in Dartmouth, Mass. UMass Boston photo

UMass Boston women’s basketball team made their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last weekend after defeating UMass Dartmouth to win the Little East Conference Tournament Championship. 

The Beacons lost to St. Joseph’s College (Maine) 61-56 in Amherst LeFrank Auditorium. UMass Boston anticipates returning 15 players for next season, after putting together what was arguably the best season in program history, with a record of 25-3.

The highlight came on Feb. 24 when the Beacons upset the Corsairs of UMass Dartmouth by a score of 65-56. The tournament victory marked the Beacons program record 25th of the season and the 50th career win for third-year head coach Kristina Baugh (50-32).

After seeing their 12-point halftime lead cut to one at the end of three quarters, UMass Boston battled for their season in the final 10 minutes.
LEC Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament Joie Grassi (Plymouth, Mass.) gave the Beacons the lead for good with 2:33 to play and Grassi added five of the Beacons 15 points over the final 6:10 in regulation.

Grassi was superb from the start. She recorded 10 of her game-high 26 points in the opening quarter and added a team-high nine rebounds. The freshman forward went 8-18 from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line. She tacked on two assists, one steal and two blocks. 

Fellow freshman Geanna Williams (Cromwell, Conn.) also put together one of the best games of her career. Charged with trying to slow down UMass Dartmouth’s Nakira Examond, Williams finished with 10 points on 5-6 shooting and eight rebounds in 23 minutes. 
Freshman Shania Osborne (Fairfield, Conn.) also helped slow down Examond and chipped in five points and six rebounds. 

Examond, the reigning LEC Player of the Year, finished with 25 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Senior Leah Douty added 15 points in 37 minutes for the Corsairs, who had been 16-0 against LEC opponents prior to today.