NORTON, MA- The Wheaton College women's basketball team advanced to the championship game of its New Year's Tournament on Saturday with a 65-50 victory over Elms College in Emerson Gymnasium. The Lyons evened their record at 5-5 and will meet 4-5 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), an 89-86 winner over 2-6 Husson University in this afternoon's second game, during Sunday's title contest. Elms fell to 1-7 with the loss.
Needing just four points to become the 11th player in Wheaton history to hit the 1,000-point milestone, senior Jenny Champney (Bedford, MA/Bedford) reached the plateau with a 15-foot jumper 3:32 into play. She finished with a game-best 20 points. Sophomore Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, NJ/Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) went 6-of-6 for a career-high-tying 13 points and five rebounds, while senior Andrea Bailey (Needham, MA/Needham) contributed 11 points, six assists and five boards. Wheaton assisted 23 of its 27 baskets.
For Elms, sophomore Carolyn Talmadge (Wilbraham, MA/Minnechaug Regional) posted 14 points, while senior Jessica Jurkowski (Belchertown, MA/Belchertown) turned in 13 points and eight rebounds.
After knocking down its first four attempts, Wheaton jumped out to an 11-0 advantage on Champney's milestone basket. Trailing 13-2 with 15:35 to go in the first half, Elms went on a 10-0 run to cut its deficit to one at 11:58 before a triple from freshman Jeana Trimboli (Norwalk, CT/Trinity Catholic) and Champney's conventional three-point play pushed the Lyon lead to 19-12 midway through the frame. The Blazers scored the next nine points over 2:57 to take their only lead of the game, but the hosts responded with a 14-2 spurt to lead 33-23 at 2:54. A Bailey three with 59 ticks before the break gave Wheaton a 36-27 halftime edge.
Two threes by Jurkowski brought the Blazers within 39-35 at 13:38 of the second half, but Wheaton used an 11-2 run to pull away. After Jurkowski's second trey, the Lyons yielded just one field goal until a hoop at 6:56.
During the second contest, RPI graduate student Whitney Coleman (Rancho Cucamonga, CA/Etiwanda) approached a triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and four blocks. Junior Allison Connor (Hudson, NY/Hudson) totaled 24 points while canning five threes, and sophomore Lauren Hayes (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia) chipped in with 11 points.
Sophomore Brianna Hanscom (Mattawamkeag, ME/Mattanawcook Academy) led Husson with 24 points and 16 rebounds, junior Bethany Sevey (Skowhegan, ME/Skowhegan Area) had 17 points, and senior Shelby Bradford (Lee, ME/Lee Academy) collected 14 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and six steals. Sophomore Amanda Gifford (Lee, ME/Lee Academy) added 12 points.
Each of Husson's first seven baskets was scored by a different player, as its 8-2 edge at 15:39 was the first of three six-point leads, the largest by either squad in the half. Connor capped a 7-0 run with consecutive buckets that made it 16-14 in favor of RPI at the 12-minute mark, the first of six lead changes in the period. The squads also played to four ties while combining to shoot 53.3 percent, but 28 turnovers were committed in the half.
The Engineers scored seven straight points to turn a 51-46 deficit into an edge on Coleman's hoop at 15:38 of the second half, and an RPI three-pointer at 12:48 made it 62-55, the first lead by more than six points for either team in the game. Two Hanscom free throws brought Husson within 65-62, but the Engineers scored 14 of the next 19 points to take a 12-point advantage at 6:09. RPI saw its lead shrink to 83-80 after Bradford's two freebies at 1:01 capped a 9-0 run, but the Eagles came no closer than three. RPI held on despite a 16-of-26 showing at the charity stripe, while the teams finished with 50 turnovers. Husson pulled down 18 of its 44 rebounds on the offensive end.
Tomorrow's action begins with the consolation game at 1:00 p.m. between Elms and Husson, followed by the championship contest featuring Wheaton and RPI at 3:00 p.m.