Photo Gallery | MCLA-Mount Holyoke Women's Hoop
NORTH ADAMS — The MCLA women's basketball team is in uncharted territory, and for the Trailblazers, it feels pretty good.
MCLA extended its school-record winning streak to seven games and exorcised some ghosts in a 68-37 win over Mount Holyoke College in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday night.
A 3-point play by Courtney Durivage with 4:45 left in the first quarter put the Trailblazers (7-2) ahead for keeps.
It's the longest winning streak that head coach Holly McGovern has had in her 10 years at the helm. McGovern had a five-game winning streak from Dec. 5, 2009, through Jan. 6, 2010. Two other times, she has led the Trailblazers to four-game winning streaks.
"If you know me, you know I don't care about those kind of things," said McGovern. "For us right now, it's about growth in the first semester here."
And with the seven wins, MCLA equalled its win total for all of last season.
Now the exorcism was because last year, Mount Holyoke beat MCLA 50-49 in South Hadley on a jumper by Amber Legare with one second left on the clock. Legare had a game-high 20 points in the win and Kate Karraker had 13. Both players earned their diplomas in June.
"It stuck in the back of my mind a little bit because we lost on a buzzer-beater," said Courtney McLaughlin, who had a game-high 17 points for the Trailblazers. "I think the main focus was just going out and executing what we needed to do and get that seventh win."
McLaughlin shot 6 of 10 from the floor, had four assists and four steals. Courtney Pingelski had 11 points and six rebounds while Kayla Hotaling added 10 points, nine boards and five steals.
"I know my class, we're all a year older. We have a great freshman class," said Hotaling, a junior from Ravena, N.Y. "We put in a lot of hard work, and it's another year of working together."
It took McGovern's team the first few minutes in the first quarter to get going. There were three lead changes and a tie in the first five minutes. The last lead change came when Mount Holyoke's Xajaah Williams-Flores made a pair of foul shots with 5:07 left.
The Trailblazers answered quickly as Durivage drove to the basket for two. She was fouled and made the free throw, giving MCLA a 11-9 lead it would not relinquish.
Two possessions later, Courtney McLaughlin stole the ball from Mount Holyoke's Genelle Greene and took it coast-to-coast for two points, making it 13-9, and forcing Mount Holyoke coach Michelle Scecina to call time out. It didn't help much.
Mount Holyoke didn't score a basket for the final seven minutes of the quarter as the Trailblazers gradually pulled away. And when McLaughlin drained a 3-point basket when she picked up a loose ball and shot with two seconds left in the quarter, MCLA had a 18-11 lead.
If the Lyons had any hope of making a comeback, freshman guard McKenzie Robinson made sure the door slammed shut on that hope. She hit back-to-back treys to open the half. The first came off an assist from McLaughlin — a Berkshire County Northern Division Pittsfield to Hoosac Valley assist — and then the freshman drained another trey from the right wing, upping the lead to 24-11. The Lyons got no closer.
"It's [about] getting through our academics, playing solid basketball and hoping the second semester gets here," McGovern said, "so we can play even better basketball."