Bench carries Smith College basketball over the finish line in Sweet 16 win over Mary Washington

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-11-2023 12:55 AM

NORTHAMPTON – Mary Washington thought it cut the head off of Smith College’s basketball dragon.

Pioneers center Morgan Morrison, the NEWMAC & New England Women's Basketball Association Player of the Year, fouled out with 6 minutes, 31 seconds left of Friday’s Sweet 16 matchup. Though Smith led by 14 points, it would have to play the rest of the way without its leading scorer and rebounder.

Except the Pioneers have a hydra. When Morrison sat down, sophomores Jazymyn Washington and Cassidy Creager sprung into her place. They combined for 31 minutes and eight rebounds and provided a stabilizing defensive presence.

“We have a deep team. If we get in foul trouble, or someone’s not producing as much as they typically do, we have other players we can go to,” Smith coach Lynn Hersey said. “The goal there is for them to be prepared for their opportunity and to impact the game in a positive way.”

Creager grabbed two offensive rebounds, while Washington had one. They kept possessions alive when the Pioneers (29-1) struggled to score and needed every opportunity. Smith shot just 5-of-31 in the second half and made 1-of-10 field goals in the fourth quarter, as Mary Washington whittled a 17-point lead with 7:06 left down to 0 in the final seconds.

“One possession we had three or four chances to score, and we needed all those chances,” Hersey said. “It’s the NCAA Tournament. The games are going to be competitive and you’re gonna have to find different ways to win.”

Smith had 19 bench points. Jane Loo and Salem Maher scored two each late in the first half when the Pioneers enjoyed a 20-point lead, but reserve guard Ally Yamada provided the biggest boost. The junior scored a team-high 15 points and hit 4-of-8 3-pointers, including a buzzer beater in overtime to secure the 68-65 victory.

“A lot of times when Ally’s taking a 3, it feels like someone else making a layup. She’s that efficient from the 3-point line,” Hersey said. “Yeah it was a massive 3, but, geez, I think all of us thought when it went up, ‘that’s going in.’ And that’s a compliment to her and all the work she puts in to be such a good shooter for us.”

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Yamada registered her fifth double-digit scoring game in Smith’s past six. She’s made 23 of her past 44 3s and has multiple triples in each of the past six games.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>