January 7, 2012

Strong shooting, defense propel Wheaton past Mount Holyoke, 55-42

NORTON, Mass. – Senior Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) filled the stat sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in Wheaton College's 55-42 win over Mount Holyoke College in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Emerson Gymnasium.

Freshman Abbie Brickley (Sandy, Utah/Skyline) led all scorers with 16 points and also tallied eight boards, four assists and a pair of steals for the Lyons (4-8, 2-4 NEWMAC), who improved to 29-9 all-time against Mount Holyoke (2-10, 0-6 NEWMAC).

The Lyons shot a season-high 46.2 percent from the field (24-of-52) and picked up assists on 19 of their 24 field goals. They also held a 36-28 edge on the glass, led by eight rebounds each from DePalo and Brickley. Freshman Kenzie Kuhn (Glenwood Springs, Colo./Glenwood Springs) dished out a game-high five assists to go with eight points and four steals while sophomore Melissa McLaughlin (Spindale, N.C./R-S Central) played a balanced game with five points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal in her second start of the season.

Wheaton raced out to a 10-0 lead behind four points each from Brickley and DePalo, and all 10 points came in the paint. The Lyons held a 10-point edge throughout the majority of the first half and took a 28-17 lead into halftime. Brickley paced Wheaton with 12 points while junior Hallie Vitagliano (Newton, Mass./Newton North) came off the bench to score five points. Junior Angelica Pascual (Lawrence, Mass./Proctor Academy) and freshman Amber Legare (Chicopee, Mass./Chicopee Comprehensive) each scored four points for Mount Holyoke.

The visitors trimmed their deficit to nine on two occasions early in the second half, but the Lyons answered with a 21-10 run that pushed their lead to 20 (54-34) with 4:56 remaining in the half. Kuhn scored six points during the run while Brickley and senior Nicole Cullinane (Rindge, N.H./New Hampton School) each netted five.

"We had one less day to recover from our last NEWMAC game than Mount Holyoke, so I was really nervous about our physical and mental strength coming into today's contest," explained Wheaton head coach Melissa Hodgdon. "I felt we could have done some things better today, but our team executed the game plan. We passed the ball very well and slowed down the tempo. Mount Holyoke plays a transition game, so we tried to maximize each offensive possession."

Mount Holyoke had no answers for the Wheaton defense as it shot 36.5 percent from the floor (19-of-52) – including 1-of-14 from behind the arc. The Lyons forced Wheaton to commit 22 turnovers which led to 17 points. Senior Christine Chancy (Miami, Fla./Miami Country Day School) finished with a team-high 10 points for MHC while Pascual recorded nine points, three rebounds, three assists and four steals. Legare finished with eight points and a team-high six rebounds.

The Lyons return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Wellesley for a 7 p.m. contest. Mount Holyoke travels to WPI on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game.

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