Wheaton victorious for first time at Springfield, fends off Pride, 67-64

SPRINGFIELD, MA- The Wheaton College women's basketball team won for the first time in nine meetings at Springfield College, as the Lyons built an 18-point advantage in the second half and withstood a furious Pride rally in hanging on for a 67-64 victory in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Saturday at Blake Arena.

Defeating Springfield for the third time in its last four meetings, Wheaton improved to 4-5 overall and 3-1 in league play.  The Pride dropped its second straight game to fall to 3-5 and 2-2.

The Lyons had a few impressive individual performances to speak of, led by a school-record-tying mark from senior point guard Andrea Bailey (Needham, MA/Needham), who matched a 16-year-old standard with 12 assists.  She tied Cathy Silva's '94 mark from November 1993.  Bailey also knocked down a pair of threes while adding four rebounds.

Wheaton also received career-high point totals from seniors Ida Kruse (Vershire, VT/Rivendell Academy) and Stephanie Walker (Somers, CT/Somers).  Kruse poured in a team-best 19 points, going 9-of-12 from the floor, to go alongside seven rebounds, while Walker drained two treys and finished with 14 points and five boards.

Sophomore Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, NJ/Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) went 4-of-6 for 10 points, senior Jenny Champney (Bedford, MA/Bedford) accounted for eight points and is four short of 1,000 for her career, and freshman Jeana Trimboli (Norwalk, CT/Trinity Catholic) added six points and five assists.  As a team, the Lyons assisted 22 of their 26 field goals while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor, including 53.6 percent in the first half.

Junior Amelia Sapowsky (Ware, MA/Granby) paced the hosts with game highs of 21 points and nine rebounds, freshman Meghan Biondolillo (Levittown, NY/Island Trees) recorded 17 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Kelly Murphy (Mechanicville, NY/Mechanicville) had 13 points and four helpers.

Kruse's jumper at 17:41 of the second frame provided the visitors with a comfortable 43-25 advantage, and Bailey's second triple of the game at 5:11 kept the Lyons in front by 14 points before Springfield made things interesting.  Trailing 63-49 with less than five minutes left, the Pride kept Wheaton without a field goal the rest of the way while getting as close as two points on a Biondolillo three at 12 seconds.  Walker knocked down one of two free throws to extend the Lyon edge to 67-64 with 11 ticks to go, and Springfield missed a lay-up at five seconds before Walker grabbed the rebound.

Wheaton never trailed, turning a 10-8 lead at 14:42 of the opening half into a 20-8 advantage at 8:44, as the Lyons held the Pride scoreless for over six minutes.  Springfield narrowed its deficit to 10 points at 20-10, but Wheaton pushed its lead out to 15 on three occasions before taking a 36-23 advantage into the locker room.

The Lyons don't return to action for three weeks, when they host the Wheaton New Year's Tournament beginning on Saturday, January 2, against Elms College.