NORTON, Mass. – Freshman Abbie Brickley (Sandy, Utah/Skyline) scored a career-high 24 points and snared 10 rebounds in Wheaton College's 67-57 win over Clark University in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's basketball action Saturday afternoon at Emerson Gymnasium.
Classmate Kenzie Kuhn (Glenwood Springs, Colo./Glenwood Springs) chipped in with a career-high 14 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists, and two steals for the Lyons (6-8, 4-4 NEWMAC), who have won three-straight an four of their last five.
Wheaton senior Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) added 12 points, four rebounds and four assists while classmate Nicole Cullinane (Rindge, N.H./New Hampton School) added 10 points and four rebounds. The Lyons knocked down 25 of their 27 free throws (92.6 pct.) and held a 41-31 edge on the glass which led to 16 second chance points.
Clark took an early 14-9 lead behind seven points from sophomore Ashleigh Condon (Hull, Mass./Hull) before the Lyons ripped off a 14-7 run to grab a 25-21 lead on a layup by DePalo with 4:38 left in the first half. Condon answered with five points in the final minutes of the half to give the Cougars a 28-27 halftime lead. Reilly led all scorers with 14 points while Brickley had 12.
Cullinane opened the second half with a trey to give the Lyons a two-point lead (30-28) which grew to 11 behind six points from DePalo and three-pointers from Kuhn and sophomore Melissa McLaughlin (Spindale, N.C./R-S Central). Following a Clark timeout, the Cougars began to press the Lyons in the backcourt and forced three turnovers to help tie the game at 49 with 6:17 on the clock.
The Cougars took a 52-21 lead following a free throw by senior Kate Minister (Manchester, England/Proctor Academy) with 3:43 to go, but a three-point play by Brickley gave Lyons a 54-52 lead the Lyons would not relinquish. Wheaton sank 11 of its 12 free throw attempts down the stretch – including four each from Cullinane and Kuhn – to seal its sixth win of the season.
"This team has gone through some growing pains but continues to improve," said Lyons head coach Melissa Hodgdon. "Our theme lately has been 'Just Get Better Every Day,' and everyone is invested in it. We're winning league games and games on our home court, and I am really proud of the effort and the fight they are showing. They're staying composed down the stretch against some physical teams and making their free throws."
The Lyons saw their streak of four-straight games shooting above 40 percent snapped but held Clark to 34.5 pct. from the floor – including 9-of-32 (28.1 pct.) from the field and 0-for-10 from behind the arc in the second half. Sophomore Emily Reilly (Marlborough, Mass./Marlborough) paced Clark (10-5, 6-2 NEWMAC) with 19 points while Condon added 16 points and four assists.
"We wanted to get the ball inside to our post players today and slow down Clark's transition game, and I felt everyone did a good job sticking to our game plan," said Hodgdon. "Gabbie and Abbie are so unselfish and have an ability to find the open player when they are double-teamed, and our guards are knocking down those looks."
The Lyons return to action on Monday when they host Tufts at 2 p.m. All fans are asked to bring a non-perishable food item that will be donated to the Mansfield Food Pantry. The Cougars host nationally-ranked Babson Wednesday at 7 p.m.