Colleges notebook: Hampshire Regional alum Maddie Pond sets new Westfield State 3-point record

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-22-2024 4:11 PM

Modified: 02-22-2024 7:32 PM


It felt like throwing a rock in the ocean for Maddie Pond.

The Westfield State guard was unconscious during the No. 3 Owls’ MASCAC quarterfinal game against No. 6 Fitchburg State on Tuesday, as she poured in a career-high 39 points – including a program record 11 3-pointers.

Pond, a 2021 graduate of Hampshire Regional and native of Holyoke, set the new mark of 11 on 22 attempts, and passed the previous record (10) by one as Westfield cruised to a 108-54 win to advance to the semifinals.

From the opening tip, Pond knew she had it going. On the Owls’ first offensive possession, she buried a long ball and quickly tallied eight points (two 3s and a layup) just one minute and 13 seconds into the game. Five first-quarter 3s paced Pond’s 17-point opening frame – setting the tone for what was to come.

Her previous season-high in points was 18, and her season-high in 3s was four. But it all came together perfectly for the former Raider, who scored over 1,100 points during her high school career with the red and white.

Pond and the Owls traveled to No. 2 Bridgewater State on Thursday for a spot in the conference final, but dropped a 64-59 decision. She scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3.

Jackie Ward stepping down at Mount Holyoke

After six seasons as head coach, Jackie Ward is stepping down as head coach of Mount Holyoke College basketball. The school made the announcement in a release on Thursday, and she announced to the team earlier this month that her resignation would take effect at the end of March.

“I'd like to thank Jackie for all of her hard work; she has had a tremendously positive impact on our student-athletes, the athletic department, and in her role as a lecturer within Physical Education,” said Andrea Ricketts-Preston, Director of Athletics and Chair of Physical Education. “She will certainly be missed and I wish her the absolute best.”

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Ward, a former assistant at Hartwick, Smith and Nazareth and a standout player at Binghamton University, is the 12th head coach in the history of the program.

A search has begun for a new head coach. The Lyons completed the 2023-24 season, the 50th in program history, on Saturday with a loss against Coast Guard to finish 2-23 overall.

UMass hockey fighting for postseason berth

Following two losses to Boston College, the No. 1 team in the country, over the weekend, the Minutemen have officially fallen out of the top 12 of the PairWise Rankings – sitting at No. 15.

While the referees certainly weren’t perfect, UMass still had plenty of chances to win both games against the Eagles, but came away empty handed with 5-1 (home) and 6-4 (road) defeats. The Minutemen hit several posts during the game at home and missed on key opportunities from scoring areas that Boston College converted from when it had its opportunities. And during the game at Conte Forum, UMass held both 3-2 and 4-3 leads that it couldn’t hold on to.

Now, Lucas Mercuri was called for a goaltender interference with UMass ahead 4-3 that perhaps shouldn’t have been called. And that gave the Eagles a 5-on-3 for nearly two full minutes, which they scored twice to take the lead for good. Obviously that had an impact on the game, but it just seemed like Boston College was – and is – a step ahead of the Minutemen. The Eagles are No. 1 for a reason.

The biggest difference on Friday and Sunday was that Boston College found a way to put the puck in the back of the net when scoring chances presented itself, while UMass – specifically in Friday’s contest – didn’t.

Now, with the season’s writing on the wall, the Minutemen have to buckle down over their last six regular season games to get back in the top 12. Given that four of the matchups come against nationally ranked teams, there is clearly still a strong chance they crawl back in with some big wins.

UMass (16-9-3) has home-and-homes with No. 19 New Hampshire this weekend and UMass Lowell next weekend before two games in Orono, Maine against the No. 7 Black Bears to round out its Hockey East slate. A winning record in those six contests at the very least is a must for the Minutemen.

Amherst women looking for at-large, men control destiny

After falling to Middlebury 59-48 in the NESCAC quarterfinals, matters are officially out of the Amherst College women’s basketball team’s hands.

The Mammoths have a strong 19-6 record this season, and are 6-4 in a once-again stacked conference. At this point, their only hope of continuing their season is getting an at-large bid in the Division 3 NCAA Tournament with Selection Sunday looming large this weekend.

Amherst’s resume is strong per usual, and the committee knows what it’s going to get from the Mammoths every March. If they do sneak in, they’ll be a tough out for anybody.

On the men’s side, Amherst travels to Williamstown on Saturday afternoon for a matchup with No. 1 Williams. The No. 6 Mammoths defeated No. 3 Connecticut College 65-57 despite losing to them by 18 just three weeks ago.

Almost certain to be left out of the big dance unless it wins the NESCAC, Amherst is playing with house money – looking to play spoiler to the top dogs of the conference.

During their two meetings this year, the Mammoths have played the Purple Cows tough, winning by 14 in the most recent affair while losing by only two on the road back in early January. Evidently head coach Marlon Sears has a recipe for success against Williams, and he’ll need it on Saturday.

Not to look too far ahead, because there is no ahead without a win against the Purple Cows, but with a victory, awaiting Amherst in the title game would be either No. 2 Trinity or No. 4 Tufts. The Mammoths beat Tufts and lost to Trinity in their only matchups this season.

Amherst (15-10, 5-5) controls its own destiny from here forward. Win out, and the Mammoths are in.