WORCESTER -- A huge first quarter set the tone, as the WPI women's basketball team rolled to a 68-31 victory over visiting New England College on Saturday afternoon at Harrington Auditorium. The Engineers improved to 10-3 with the non-conference win, dropping the Pilgrims to 7-5 on the season.
The first quarter saw the Engineers' offense go 11-of-16 from the field (68.8%) building a 27-4 lead it would not relinquish. Meanwhile, the WPI defense held NEC to just 2-of-10 (10%) from the field and 0-for-7 from long-range in the first, setting the tone for the rest of the contest.
Individually, Lisa Cristiano (Valhalla, NY) led WPI with a game-best 14 points, while McKenna Finken (Simsbury, CT) added 12 points. Alice Kelly (Wethersfield, CT) and Emily Raynowska (Simsbury, CT) each added eight points, with Kelly pulling down five rebounds with three steals, and Raynowska recording a game-high eight boards.
Amaya Moss (Virginia Beach, VA) paced NEC with seven points, while Alissia Corona (Wylie, TX) added five points and a game-high four steals. Ericka Pratt (Miami, FL) finished with five points and a team-best six rebounds.
WPI scored the first six points of the game before a Pratt layup got the Pilgrims on the board with 5:44 on the clock. The Engineers continued to roll, however, building a 20-2 advantage with 3:04 to play. Another NEC bucket at the 2:51 mark cut into the lead, but WPI closed the frame on a 7-0 surge to lead 27-4 after one.
The Engineers extended the lead to 27 points on an Allison McMorrow (Quincy, MA) lay-up early in the second quarter and led 33-7 midway through the frame. NEC slightly closed the gap with an 8-3 run, including back-to-back buckets from Makiah Scott (Washington, DC), before a Cristiano layup before the buzzer put WPI up 38-15 at the half.
A 6-0 start to the third quarter gave the Engineers their largest lead of the game thus far, going up 44-15 with 6:54 on the clock. Three the hard way from NEC's Moss cut the lead back down to 26 points, but again WPI rolled, closing out the quarter with eight unanswered points to take a 57-23 lead.
In the fourth, WPI outscored the Pilgrims 11-8 to finish out the lopsided 68-31 victory.
For the game, the Engineers shot 44.8% (26-58) from the field, holding NEC to just 21.4% (12-56) from the floor. The Engineers also had a huge 52-27 bulge on the glass, despite losing the turnover battle 22-21.
WPI is off for a week until they open NEWMAC play next Saturday with a 3pm matchup down Park Ave. against city rival Clark. In a scheduling oddity, New England College's next game is also at Clark as the Pilgrims return to Worcester on Tuesday at 4pm to face the Cougars.