The Wheaton College women's basketball team posted a 34-32 victory over Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) matchup on Wednesday night in Emerson Gymnasium on Play 4Kay Cancer Awareness Night and National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD).
At halftime of the contest, the Wheaton College Athletics Department honored 40 of its senior women student-athletes and both of WPI's seniors in conjunction with NGWSD. The Lyons also decorated the gymnasium pink, wore similar colored socks and accepted donations for the Play 4Kay Foundation.
Sophomore forward Abbie Brickley (Sandy, Utah/Skyline) tallied a game-high 12 points and grabbed five rebounds to lift Wheaton to its first regular season series sweep over the Engineers since the 2007-08 season. The Lyons went on to win the NEWMAC regular season title and the conference championship that year earning their first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 1994-95. Earlier this season, Wheaton claimed a 53-39 win over WPI in Worcester, Mass. on December 4, 2012.
Freshman forward Kiley Shoemaker (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) added six points, six boards, one assist and one blocked shot. Junior guard Melissa McLaughlin (Spindale, N.C./R-S Central)chipped in with four points, three caroms, a game-high five steals and two assists.
For WPI, senior forward Theresa Logan (Southboro, Mass./Algonquin Regional) had six points, a game-high nine rebounds (three offensive), three blocks and one steal. Sophomore guard Rachel Pineda (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) collected six points, three steals and two rebounds.
Ahead 19-12 at halftime, the Lyons jumped out to a 30-19 advantage – their biggest of the game – in the second stanza utilizing an 11-5 run. Shoemaker canned a layup at 17:27 and Brickley followed with a bucket in the paint on a nice feed from McLaughlin at the 16:16 mark to make it 23-18. McLaughlin swished a jumper at 15:03, sophomore guard Laura Pierce (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) drained a three-pointer at 13:24 and freshman guard Rebecca Arnone (Litchfield, N.H./Campbell) converted a layup in traffic at 12:43 to cap the run.
The Engineers closed the gap with a 10-2 spurt over the next ten minutes and 27-seconds to cut the deficit to 32-29. WPI used a balanced attacked receiving buckets from five different players over the run including freshman guard Yasmeen Luna (North Providence, R.I./St. Mary Academy-Bay View), classmate Lisa Mendez (Yonkers, N.Y./Maria Regina), senior center Cindy Chelius (Northfield, N.J./Mainland Regional), junior forward Siena Mamayek (Melrose, Mass./Melrose) and Pineda.
Brickley bumped the Lyons advantage back up to 34-29 at the 2:07 mark as she finished on an entry pass from McLaughlin on the right block. Chelius connected on a pair of free throw attempts at 1:45 after being fouled on a drive to the net to run the score to 34-31 in favor of Wheaton. Sophomore guard Dani Davis (East Granby, Conn./East Granby) made it a one possession contest with 47-seconds remaining by sinking 1-of-2 free throws for the Engineers. A missed jumper from Pierce on the other end of the floor gave WPI a chance to tie the contest with 18-seconds to go but Logan's jump shot from the left corner clanked off the rim and Pierce corralled the rebound for the Lyons to secure the eventual victory.
Wheaton shot 28.3-percent (15-for-53) from the floor, outrebounded the visitors by a 37-30 margin and also held a slim, 20-18, margin in points in the paint. WPI shot 29.5-percent (13-for-44), compiled a 13-11 differential in points off of turnovers and converted 75.0-percent (6-for-8) of its free throw attempts on the night.
Wheaton (8-12, 5-8 NEWMAC) travels to Babson College, currently ranked no. 18 in the latest USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll, on Saturday, February 2 for a NEWMAC contest at 1 p.m. WPI (11-8, 7-6 NEWMAC) hosts Springfield College on Saturday at 3 p.m. on Alumnae Day in Harrington Auditorium.