Lyons finish road trip on upswing, fend off MIT, 56-50

Lyons finish road trip on upswing, fend off MIT, 56-50

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The Wheaton College women's basketball team finished its five-game road trip with a 56-50 victory over New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) foe Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Thursday night in Rockwell Cage.

Leading for the majority of play, the Lyons upped their overall record to 6-7 and conference mark to 3-4, while the Engineers fell to 5-8 and 1-6.

Wheaton's balanced scoring attack was led by junior Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) and sophomore Gabby Barbera (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood), who turned in 10 points apiece.  DePalo grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, while Barbera, who went 3-of-3 from three-point territory, notched six boards.

Sophomore Jeana Trimboli (Norwalk, Conn./Trinity Catholic) accounted for nine points, classmate Natasha Colon Ortiz (Holyoke, Mass./Holyoke) finished with seven markers and eight caroms, while junior Nicole Cullinane (Rindge, N.H./New Hampton School) dished out a game-best five assists.

MIT, which made a paltry five first-half field goals for 13 points, was led by sophomore Anna Merrifield's (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) 13 points and eight rebounds.  Freshman Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect School) registered nine points and a game-high 14 boards, while sophomore Lauren Sascha Burton (Seattle, Wash./Nathan Hale) had nine points and seven rebounds.

Three ties and a pair of lead swings took place to start the game, with the teams deadlocked at six with under 11 minutes remaining in the opening half.  A Barbera triple made it 9-6 in Wheaton's favor, and another Barbera trey at 9:11 provided the Lyons with a 12-9 edge.  The latter three sparked an 8-0 run, as the Blue and White led 17-9 at 2:56.  MIT went over seven minutes without scoring and more than nine minutes devoid a field goal, missing 12 straight shots before closing to within 21-13 at halftime.

Four Wheaton free throws to open the second half gave the visitors their largest lead up to that point.  The Engineers cut their deficit in half in trailing 25-19 with 16:07 to play before the Lyons eventually extended their advantage back to 12, including 35-23 at 13:26.  MIT closed the gap to nine at 13:02, but neither team hit a field goal until the hosts made the score 36-28 with 9:10 left.  A freebie at 6:32 brought the Engineers within three at 39-36 before Wheaton used an 11-2 run for a 50-38 lead with just 2:13 to go.  MIT closed the gap to 54-50 with 23 ticks left but it proved to be too little too late.

Wheaton plays at home on Saturday for the first time since December 10, as the Lyons are slated to host league opponent Smith College at 2:00 p.m.