WATERVILLE – When Allison Cappelloni was a freshman on the Colby College women’s basketball team, success was measured in small increments.

Back-to-back wins, or just steady improvement in play.

Now a senior captain, Cappelloni and the Mules have bigger goals. Saturday’s 65-57 win over Trinity launched Colby into the New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinals, to be played next weekend in Amherst, Mass.

”It’s huge. It’s huge. I’ve been here for four years, and this program has come so far,” Cappelloni said. ”I’m so proud of the girls and how much they’ve contributed. It’s so nice. I think my freshman season we had six wins.”

Colby (22-3), the NESCAC’s No. 2 seed, will face No. 5 Bowdoin (20-5). Undefeated Amherst (25-0) will take on No. 6 Bates (14-11).

”We’re playing team basketball, which has gotten us to this point,” Colby Coach Lori Gear McBride said.

Colby led 32-29 at the intermission, and slowly pulled away in the second half. Normally dominant on the boards, the Mules were outrebounded by Trinity 37-35, but in the second half Colby limited the Bantams’ second-chance tries.

”That was just very uncharacteristic of us, but we battled back. I think we kind of had our first playoff game jitters, and we got that out of the way, hopefully, in the first half and we regrouped,” McBride said.

Colby had a 41-38 lead with just under 15 minutes to play, when the Mules went on a 19-7 run to push the lead to 60-45 with five minutes remaining. Throughout the game, the Mules continued to do a better job advancing the ball against Trinity’s press.

”Their pressure was very, very good. It threw us a little bit. … I was really pleased with the poise we showed down the stretch,” McBride said. ”They pressured us more (than in the regular season), and we were actually expecting that. They’re always a tough, scrappy, tenacious team, and they’re well coached. So we expected a battle.”

Added Cappelloni: ”We just stuck together and didn’t get caught up in the messiness and the scrappiness. We just kept our composure. In the beginning there, we got a little bit frazzled, but I thought we pulled it together really nicely.”

Colby took the lead for good on a Jill Vaughn layup with 2:05 left in the first half. Aarika Ritchie scored 19 points to lead the Mules, while Cappelloni added 12. Cony grad Rachael Mack had eight points and six rebounds for Colby.


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