NORTON, Mass. – After dropping its first game of the season earlier this week on Monday, the Wheaton College women's basketball team bounced back with a 79-54 victory over Clark University to open up New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play on Wednesday night inside Emerson Gymnasium.
Senior guard Kenzie Kuhn (Glenwood Springs, Colo./Glenwood Springs) finished tied for the game-high in points with 18 total on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor (all 3-pointers) alongside four rebounds and three assists to lead the Wheaton offense. Kuhn's six 3-pointers now ranks tied for fourth all-time in a single-game in program history. Kuhn also fell one point shy of tying her career-high tonight, which came against Springfield College in a 63-48 win on January 21, 2012.
Classmate Laura Pierce (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) registered 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and two steals, while junior guard Rebecca Arnone (Litchfield, N.H./Campbell) added eight points, four boards and two assists. Senior forward Abbie Brickley (Sandy, Utah/Skyline) had nine points, a team-high five assists, four rebounds and two steals and junior forward Kiley Shoemaker (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) contributed nine points, five rebounds, two blocks, an assist and a steal.
Senior guard Kirsten Ferrari (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) rounded out the list of highlights from the starts for the Lyons with seven points, a team-high five assists, three rebounds and one steal.
Clark University first-year guard Sam O'Gara (Worcester, Mass./Claremont Academy) paced all scorers with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting, a game-high six assists, two rebounds and a pair of steals. Sophomore guard Aretha Sullivan (Worcester, Mass./University Park) notched 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including a 4-for-4 showing at the line, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Junior guard Brooke Brennan (Weston, Mass./The Rivers School) chipped in with eight points and two boards.
Wheaton charged out to a 21-10 advantage over the course of the opening 7:15 of action hitting five 3-pointers during the run. Pierce buried a pair of long range shots, while Arnone, Ferrari and Kuhn all canned one 3-pointer as well.
After a 30-second timeout by Clark, the Lyons' lead ballooned to as many as 31 points (49-18) before the break with 1:54 to play as sophomore guard Sarah Caron (Boothbay Harbor, Maine/Boothbay Region) swished a 3-pointer on a feed by first-year guard Emily Cuthbertson (Hudson, N.H./New Hampton School).
O'Gara brought the Cougars deficit back to 27 points (49-22) with back-to-back layups towards the end of the half at the 1:37 mark and 30-second mark, respectively. In the second stanza, Clark used a 9-0 run to bring the game back under 20 points (49-31) with 17:17 remaining, but Wheaton answered with a 21-12 run of its own – culminating in a 27-point lead (70-43) at the 7:37 mark – to wrap up the victory.
During Clark's 9-0 run to start the second half, O'Gara fueled the offense with five points, while senior forward Victoria Russo (Arlington, Mass./Arlington) went 1-for-2 from the free throw line and Sullivan drilled a 3-pointer to cap the spurt.
The Lyons shot 44.3-percent (27-for-61) from the floor, a season-high 42.9-percent (12-for-28) from long distance and 81.3-percent (13-for-16) at the line. Wheaton's 12 three-pointers fell one shy of tying the program record, which was set on January 14, 1997 against Coast Guard and matched on January 2, 2011 versus Bridgewater State. The Blue and White also won the rebounding matchup, 39-35, dished out 22 assists on 27 made baskets, held a 28-18 advantage in points in the paint and a 31-7 margin in bench points.
Wheaton (5-1, 1-0 NEWMAC), who is receiving votes in both the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today Division III national poll and D3hoops.com national rankings, travels to Springfield College on Saturday for a NEWMAC clash at 2 p.m. Clark (2-4, 0-1 NEWMAC) hosts Smith College this Saturday for a league matchup at 1 p.m.