February 16, 2011

Wheaton stumbles at Wellesley, playoff fate hanging in the balance

WELLESLEY, Mass. - The Wheaton College women's basketball team came up short against host Wellesley College on Wednesday, as the Lyons dropped a 63-58 decision in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play in Keohane Sports Center.

Wheaton, which is now 10-14 overall and 7-10 in league play, remains tied with Clark University for sixth place in the conference standings.  With six teams advancing to next week's NEWMAC Tournament, the Lyons needs to defeat Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on Saturday and have Clark lose to the United States Coast Guard Academy.  Securing a playoff berth, Wellesley improved to 12-11 and 9-8.

Wheaton junior Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) led the way with 14 points and a game-best 13 rebounds.  Sophomore Jeana Trimboli (Norwalk, Conn./Trinity Catholic) notched 12 points, junior Nicole Cullinane (Rindge, N.H./New Hampton School) recorded a season-high 11 markers, while freshman Laura Pierce (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) handed out a game-best seven assists.

For Wellesley, four players combined for 56 points, with sophomore Malia Maier (Torrance, Calif./Palos Verdes Estates) tallying 18 markers, seven rebounds and five assists.  Junior Elisha Orama (Miramar, Fla./American Heritage School) and freshman Leslie Leong (Sacramento, Calif./John F. Kennedy) contributed 13 points each, with Leong grabbing seven boards, while sophomore Becca Kimball (Weston, Mass./Weston) chipped in with 12 points.

A sloppy first half saw a combined 29 turnovers and poor shooting from the Lyons, who made just 26.9 percent of their attempts.  Wheaton did hold a 23-16 rebounding edge but converted on just seven field goals.  The hosts jumped out to a 15-6 advantage 7:48 in before the Lyons scored six straight points to close to within three at 8:41.  Wellesley then went on an 8-1 run for a 23-13 lead with 5:31 to go before the break.  The visitors closed the half on an 11-4 spurt to trail 27-24 at the intermission.

Wheaton forged three ties to begin the second frame before eventually taking a 43-40 lead at the 9:24 mark thanks to a Trimboli triple.  Trimboli's three was the start of a combined five straight treys between the teams, with Trimboli and Maier accounting for two apiece.  Three lead swings and a trio of ties ensued before Wellesley secured the lead for good at 59-58 with 29 ticks on the clock.

The Lyons face WPI on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.  Prior to the game, Wheaton will honor Executive Director of Athletics Chad Yowell for his 23 years of service to the college.  Yowell announced his retirement earlier this year, which is effective on May 31.

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