Women's Basketball Falls to Wellesley in NEWMAC Defensive Battle

Jessica Larsen

Babson Park, MA --- In a low scoring defensive battle, Wellesley basketball held on to take a 38-34 victory over visiting WPI on Saturday afternoon in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action at Babson College's Staake Gymnasium. 

After starting the year 0-3 in the conference play, Wellesley now has back-to-back victories, helping the Blue move to 5-7 overall and 2-3 in NEWMAC play. WPI slips to 9-4 on the season and 2-2 in conference games. 

Senior Morgyne Weaver (Oklahoma City, OK) and junior Chelsi Scott (Portland, MI) led the way for the Blue, with each scoring a team-high 10 points. Weaver also grabbed seven rebounds to go along with a pair of assists and a pair of blocks. Both Scott and first year guard Kayla Jang (South Pasadena, CA) grabbed six boards apiece, with Jang also adding six points and three assists. Kendall Bianchi (Arlington, VA) also chipped in with six points for the Blue. 

WPI first year guard Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) scored a team-high 11 points for the Engineers. Biney played 25 minutes off the WPI bench, adding four rebounds and a pair of steals. In all, WPI collected 13 steals as a team while forcing the Blue into 24 turnovers in the contest. Junior Lisa Mendez (Yonkers, NY) also added eight points for the Engineers, while senior Amaia Gritsko (Milford, CT) added a game-high nine rebounds to go along with six points, four steals and a block. 

Back-to-back layups from Biney tied the score at 13-all with 11:27 remaining in the first half as little separated the sides through the opening minutes. Bianchi broke the tie with a three-pointer with just under nine to play before the half. Wellesley's lead would get no bigger than four points over the next eight minutes of play as Biney once again tied the contest, at 19-all, with just over three minutes left in the first. 

The Blue then closed out the opening half on a 7-2 run, taking the biggest lead by either team in the first, at 26-21, following Bianchi's second triple of the contest with 1:05 left before the break. The five point Wellesley advantage would remain the difference at the half. 

In the second half, the Blue did just enough to hold on for the win. Wellesley grew its lead to a 13 point advantage, at 34-21, in the opening five minutes of the first. Wellesley held WPI with a basket until the 14:07 mark, when a three from Biney made the score 34-24. 

Biney's lone triple of the contest came as part of a 12-2 WPI run that brought the Engineers to back within three points with 6:33 remaining. However, both teams would struggle to find points in the closing minutes of the second half. Sophomore Ailis Hanley (Cranston, RI knocked down what turned out to be the Blue's final bucket of the afternoon with 5:03 to play. Mendez then took advantage of a foul on Weaver with 2:40 left in regulation to cut the Wellesley lead back to three, at 38-35, but neither team would add to their total in the final two and a half minutes of play. 

With the Blue continuing to cling to a three-point margin, a missed three from Jang set up a frantic final possession for the Engineers. Mendez got an open look from beyond the arc with 38 seconds to play but the shot, along with the putback attempt from Jessica Larsen (Poway, CA), fell short. However, Larsen, who grabbed five boards in the contest, recovered her own miss before WPI called its final timeout. 

Following the timeout, the Blue locked in for one final time on the defensive end of the floor, forcing the Engineers into a shot clock violation as an attempt from WPI sophomore Tess Nogueira (Merrimac, MA) failed to draw iron with 1.7 seconds to play. WPI would get one last chance when Dani Davis (East Granby, CT) intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass with enough time to get a good look from just across the mid-court line. Davis' attempt would miss to the left of the rim as Wellesley held on for the 38-35 victory. 

Wellesley will return to action on Tuesday evening when they take on local rival Babson in a NEWMAC contest at 7pm at Staake Gymnasium. WPI will also be in action on Tuesday night. The Engineers will return home to host Mount Holyoke at 7pm.

Release Courtesy Wellesley Sports Information