Wheaton's furious second-half rally falls just short at WPI, 61-52

Wheaton's furious second-half rally falls just short at WPI, 61-52

WORCESTER, Mass. - The Wheaton College women's basketball team found itself down by a 43-19 count with less than 14 minutes to play at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on Saturday afternoon before rallying to get within four and falling just short, 61-52 in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action in Harrington Auditorium.

Having its two-game winning streak snapped, the Lyons slip to 5-7 overall and 2-4 in conference play, while the Engineers extended their winning stretch to four games in moving to 9-3 and 5-1.

Wheaton sophomore Gabby Barbera (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) poured in a career-best 17 points while matching a career high in three-pointers, going 4-of-8 from beyond the three-point stripe.   Classmate Jeana Trimboli (Norwalk, Conn./Trinity Catholic) finished with 15 points.

Junior Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) recorded a team-best nine rebounds, freshman Laura Pierce (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) had a game-high six assists, while sophomore Natasha Colon Ortiz (Holyoke, Mass./Holyoke) notched six markers and seven boards.

Wheaton got off to a slow start, making six first-half field goals while shooting 20 percent from the floor.  The Lyons made one three in 12 attempts.  The second frame proved to be an entirely different story, as the visitors shot 51.9 percent overall while knocking down seven of their 14 three-point attempts.

For WPI, which shot just 32.3 percent in the second half, was led by junior Lauren Hannmann's (East Greenbush, N.Y./Columbia) double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.  Sophomore Theresa Logan (Southboro, Mass./Algonquin Regional) turned in 13 markers and seven boards, while senior Elle Fontaine (Franklin, Mass./Bishop Feehan) contributed 13 points off the bench.

Wheaton's 2-0 edge proved to be its lone advantage, as the hosts went on a 7-0 run and never relinquished their lead.  The Lyons were down a point at 10-9 thanks to Trimboli's jumper at 12:29 but scored just five points the remainder of the opening half, as the Engineers used a 19-5 spurt to take a 29-14 cushion into the locker room.  Wheaton connected on just two of its final 18 attempts of the stanza.

WPI stayed on the offensive to open the second half, going on a 14-5 stretch for a 43-19 lead with 14:16 left.  Over the next 10:43, the Blue and White churned out a furious comeback, scoring 30 of the game's next 40 points to climb all the way back to a four-point deficit at 53-49 with 3:12 left.  Wheaton went a sizzling 11-of-14 overall during the stretch, including 5-of-7 from deep.  Trimboli led the charge with 11 points.  However, the Engineers answered with seven straight points and a 60-49 lead at 1:02.

The Lyons finish their five-game road swing at league school Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.