Lyons scratch and claw for 58-55 win over University of New England

NORTON, Mass. - Playing in its third straight game decided by three points or fewer, the Wheaton College women's basketball team overcame an early deficit on its way to a 58-55 win over visiting non-league foe University of New England on Monday night in Emerson Gymnasium.

The hosts evened their season record at 2-2, while the Nor'easters, who began the year with four consecutive wins, dropped their second straight to fall to 4-2.

Scoring 12 second-half points, Lyon sophomore Jeana Trimboli (Norwalk, Conn./Trinity Catholic) finished with a team-high 16 markers.  Junior Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) had eight points, six rebounds and two blocks, as Wheaton totaled 11 rejections, tying for the second-most blocks in program history.  Ten different Lyons cracked the scoring column, with nine collecting at least four points.

University of New England juniors Kelley Paradis (Newport, Maine/Nokomis Regional) and Margo Russell (Madison, Maine/Madison Area) combined to score 33 points and pull down 14 rebounds.  Russell turned in a game-best 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 12 markers in the first half alone, with a game-high eight rebounds.  Paradis contributed 15 points and six boards.

Falling behind by as many as six points in the second half, Wheaton grabbed its first lead when junior Nicole Cullinane (Rindge, N.H./New Hampton School) knocked down a three for a 36-34 edge with 10:24 to go.  The Lyons eventually pushed their advantage out to 44-38 at the 7:26 mark before the Nor'easters used a 13-3 run to pull ahead by a 51-47 count with 2:54 left.

A Trimboli triple 14 seconds later narrowed the Lyon gap to two, and after a UNE free throw made the score 52-50 in favor of the visitors, Trimboli's jumper with under two minutes remaining knotted the score at 52.  A DePalo lay-up from Cullinane at 1:19 provided Wheaton with the lead for good, as the Nor'easters came no closer than one on two occasions.  Trimboli twice gave the Lyons a three-point edge with clutch free throws, including with 16 seconds left and 2.4 ticks on the clock. 

In the opening half, UNE rattled off the game's first seven points while holding Wheaton off the board until 16:28.  A 7-1 run brought the Lyons to within one at 8-7 before the Nor'easters went on an 11-4 spurt for a 19-11 lead at 9:27.  The Blue and White battled back and trimmed the deficit to one twice, including at 2:30, before a Russell basket made the score 27-24 entering the break.

The Lyons face their stiffest test of the year on Wednesday when they open their New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) slate against nationally-ranked Babson College at 7:00 p.m.  The Beavers stand 13th in the country by D3hoops.com.

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