WORCESTER, MA- In a match-up between two of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference's (NEWMAC) three second-place teams, the Wheaton College women's basketball team wrapped up its regular season with a 58-44 setback at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on Saturday in Harrington Auditorium.
The Lyons slipped to 15-10 overall and 12-6 in the NEWMAC and will enter this week's league tournament as the fourth seed, hosting number-five Smith College on Wednesday during the first round at a time to be determined. The Engineers finished the regular season at 17-8 and 13-5 and will hold down the second seed in the NEWMAC Tournament.
Senior Jenny Champney (Bedford, MA/Bedford) led the Lyons with 12 points, classmate Ida Kruse (Vershire, VT/Rivendell Academy) totaled six points and six rebounds, while sophomore Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, NJ/Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) had a game-high eight boards. Senior Andrea Bailey (Needham, MA/Needham) turned in five assists to push her season total to 153, as she is now three shy of matching the 20-year-old program mark.
Junior Elle Fontaine (Franklin, MA/Bishop Feehan) paced WPI with 15 points and seven caroms, classmate Melissa Kuhn (Stoughton, MA/Stoughton) had 13 points and seven steals, and sophomore Lauren Hannmann (East Greenbush, NY/Columbia) added 10 points.
Wheaton took a 5-4 edge 1:30 into the contest on Champney's three-pointer, but WPI responded with a 9-2 run. The Lyons twice crept within five points, first on a Kruse free throw at 12:20 of the opening stanza and then on her lay-up with 11:35 left, which made it 15-10, but the Engineers slowly pushed their lead to 25-14 by the 7:50 mark.
After a WPI bucket produced that initial 11-point advantage, the Lyons did not allow another field goal until 42 seconds remained in the half, as they held the Engineers to 10 consecutive misses. Back-to-back Lyon hoops brought the visitors within seven, as Champney's jumper at 4:28 made the score 25-18, but Wheaton failed to make up more ground by being limited to just two free throws until a Champney bucket at 18:29 of the second stanza.
The Lyons trailed by a 31-19 count at halftime before twice drawing within 11 points, including on Champney's hoop at 18:29 that pulled the visitors within 33-22, but WPI responded with the next nine points and never looked back. Wheaton finished the game shooting 31.8 percent from the floor and 14-of-22 at the charity stripe, while WPI hit on 46.2 percent of its attempts, including 50 percent during the opening stanza.