Early Run Not Enough as Women's Basketball Falls at Nationally-Ranked Babson

Cindy Chelius
Babson Park, MA --- Nationally-ranked Babson erased an early 18-2 deficit by closing the first half with a 27-3 run as the Beavers defeated visiting WPI, 58-41, in the NEWMAC season-opener for both teams. 

With the win, Babson, ranked 23rd in the nation by D3hoops.com and 22nd by USA Today, remained perfect at 5-0 (1-0 NEWMAC) and extended their conference winning streak to 66 games. Meanwhile, the Engineers fell to 2-2 overall (0-1 NEWMAC). 

Babson was led by senior All-American Sarah Collins (Weymouth, MA), who posted her fifth straight double-double with 15 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocked shots. The Beavers also received a brilliant performance off the bench by first-year Linnett Graber (Roseland, NJ), who shot 6-of-12 for 14 points to go with eight boards and two steals. First-year guard Briana Hunt (Auburndale, MA) added 11 points and three assists, sophomore Erin Young (Westwood, MA) drained a pair of three-pointers to finish with seven points, and first-year Alicia Wilde (Franklin, MA) turned in a stellar defensive effort with five rebounds and a game-high four steals. 

WPI received six points apiece from senior Theresa Logan (Southboro, MA), senior Cindy Chelius (Northfield, NJ), first-year Lisa Mendez (Yonkers, NY), and first-year Jessica Larsen (San Diego, CA), as well as five points, nine rebounds, and two steals from sophomore Dani Davis (East Granby, Conn.). The Engineers, who entered the game with a +10.6 rebound margin in their previous three games, were dominated on the glass, 45-29, while being held to just 27.5 percent shooting from the field. 

The last NEWMAC team to beat the Beavers back on February 18, 2009, WPI appeared to be on its way to ending the hosts' vaunted streak early on, building an 18-2 lead in just over seven minutes of play. Six different Engineers scored during the run, highlighted by three-point bombs from Morgan, first-year Haili Welton (Southbury, CT), and Davis, as well as a conventional three-point play by Chelius. 

From there, the first half would be all Babson, which scored 27 of the final 30 points in the period to turn a 16-point deficit into a 29-21 lead at the break. Graber got the Beavers started with her first bucket at 12:28, and Collins followed with a strong post move and lay-in at 10:47. Chelius would hit one of two at the nine-minute mark to make it 19-6 in favor of the visitors, but Babson rattled off 11 straight points to climb back to within two. Young started the burst with a three-pointer, Collins and first-year Meg Otto (Scituate, MA) each added second-chance lay-ups, Graber sank a pair of free throws, and Wilde put back a Graber misfire to cut the margin to 19-17 with 6:11 to go in the half. 

A Larsen lay-up off a Davis feed pushed WPI's lead back to four moments later, but the Beavers answered with the final 12 points of the half to take the lead for good. Hunt converted a traditional three-point play to bring her team to within one, and Ferola followed with a three-pointer to move Babson in front, 23-21, with four minutes left. From there, a jumper by Collins, a driving lay-up by Hunt, and a Graber jumper pushed the hosts' advantage to eight heading into the locker room. 

Despite getting to within six in the first two minutes, WPI never threatened the Babson lead in the second stanza. The Beavers expanded their cushion to double-digits after a Hunt trifecta made it 35-25 with 14:20 remaining, and the hosts later enjoyed a 15-point advantage on four separate occasions midway through the period. A Graber steal and breakaway lay-up gave the Green and White their largest lead of the night, 53-35, with just under four minutes left, as Babson cruised to the eventual 58-41 victory. 

Both teams return to action with league contests this Saturday. Babson plays host to Mount Holyoke at 1 p.m., while the Engineers welcome MIT for a 2 p.m. matchup.

Release Courtesy Babson Sports Information