Arnone's all-around game helps push Lyons into semis
NORTON, Mass. – Wheaton College women's basketball sophomore guard Rebecca Arnone (Litchfield, N.H./Campbell) poured in 13 points and collected six rebounds, four assists, a game-high four steals and one block to aid the second-seeded Lyons to a 62-46 victory over seventh-seeded MIT on Wednesday night in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament quarterfinal round.
Wheaton (20-6) advances to the semifinal round against sixth-seeded Springfield College (11-10) on Saturday at 3 p.m. on the campus of first-seeded Smith College. With the win, the Lyons have now produced the fifth 20-win season in program history and first since their 2007-08 campaign which culminated in hoisting the NEWMAC Tournament championship trophy. The winner of the Wheaton/Springfield matchup will play the winner of first-seeded Smith and fifth-seeded Babson on Sunday in Northampton, Mass. at 1 p.m.
Junior guard Laura Pierce (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) added a team-high 14 points, a game-high six assists and four rebounds towards Wheaton's final stat line, while sophomore forward Kiley Shoemaker (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) tallied 14 points, hauled in a team-high eight rebounds and rejected two shots. Junior forward Abbie Brickley (Sandy, Utah/Skyline) had five points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals and fellow starter Kirsten Ferrari (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) chipped in with seven points and four rebounds. Senior forward Sarah Fitzgerald (Bath, Maine/Morse) provided a spark off the bench, especially in the early goings of the first half, with four points, five rebounds and a block.
MIT senior forward Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect) posted 11 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals to pace the Engineers' offense. Sophomore guard Sabrina Drammis (Hilton Head Island, S.C./Hilton Head) registered ten points and seven rebounds, while junior guard Mari Kordell (Ijamsville, Md./Urbana) notched eight points, four assists, three steals, three rebounds and one block. Classmate Osheiza Otori (Metairie, La./Ridgewood Preparatory School) aided the offense with six points, nine rebounds including seven on the offensive glass and three steals. Junior Michelle Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y./Somers) rounded out the group with seven points, four boards, three steals and one assist.
Wheaton built up an eventual 29-16 lead at the half using a 16-9 run to close out the stanza after Pierce canned a jump shot off a feed from junior guard Kenzie Kuhn (Glenwood Springs, Colo./Glenwood Springs) to give the Lyons a 13-9 advantage with 11:14 to play on the scoreboard. The Blue and White received balanced scoring during the spurt as seven different student-athletes scored at least one bucket during the run.
Down by 12 at the 15:51 mark of the second half, MIT brought the game within one possession as Kordell buried a jumper in the paint to make it a 36-33 deficit (11:20). Hunt fueled the offense during the 17-7 run with seven points, while sophomore forward Maya Ramachandran (Fremont, Calif./Mission San Jose) and Drammis both had four points apiece.
The Lyons responded with a knockout 17-4 run to close out the game and improved their record to 18-4 on the season when leading at the half. Wheaton outscored its guests 34-28 in the paint, 20-13 off turnovers and shot 43.4-percent (23-for-53) from the field. MIT went 25.3-percent from the field, 53.3-percent at the line and 0-for-13 from beyond the arc. The Engineers did hold a 48-41 advantage on the boards and a 14-8 margin in steals.
Wheaton is now 39-18 all-time against MIT dating back to the 1976-77 season and 3-2 in the NEWMAC/NEW 8 playoffs. The Lyons have won back-to-back contests against the Engineers after defeating MIT by a score of 79-36 in the NEWMAC Tournament quarterfinal round at home on February 27, 2008.