courtesy of Clark University
Worcester, Mass. – Wheaton College clamped down defensively in the fourth quarter and pulled away from a hard-charging Clark University squad to post a 65-52 win over the host Cougars in New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's basketball action on Wednesday evening at the Kneller Athletic Center.
With the win, the Lyons improve to 13-6 overall and 6-4 in conference contests, while the Scarlet and White have hit a rough patch, slipping to 3-16 overall and 1-10 in league games.
The game was nip and tuck for most of the contest after Wheaton had initially opened up a ten point lead after the first quarter (19-9). The Lyons bulge reached 15 at 27-12 after a three-point bomb from Rebecca Arnone (Litchfield, N.H.) and a pair of free throws from Oppie Morris (Ware, Mass.).
Clark slowly began to chip away at that lead using a 16-2 spurt over a five minute span that featured a layup and three-pointer from Sam O'Gara (Worcester, Mass.) and an inside hoop from Kacey Legare (Chicopee, Mass.). The other nine points all came from the charity stripe with Ogechi Ezemma (Hope Valley, R.I.) leading the way with six, two more from O'Gara and one from Aretha Sullivan (Worcester, Mass.).
When the smoke cleared before the half ended the Cougars found themselves within shouting distance at 31-28.
Clark's excellent play continued when the second half began as they scored the first eight points of the third quarter, highlighted by hoops from Ezemma and Haley Wilder (Rindge, N.H.).
Wheaton got five straight points from Arnone to even the score at 36-36, but after an Ezemma basket put the Cougars ahead, O'Gara swiped the inbounds pass and scored quickly to give the Scarlet and White a 40-36 advantage.
Moments later, however, Arnone was at it again and this time her conventional three-point play knotted the score at 40-40.
The lead changed hands four more times in the final three minutes of the period and when Jill Bodreau (Quineboaug, Conn.) drilled a three-pointer, the Lyons went into the fourth quarter ahead 46-44.
Clark kept it close and eventually went ahead when O'Gara connected with Wilder for a turn-around jumper, putting the hosts in front, 51-49 with 7:28 to play.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, they would go scoreless for the better part of seven minutes, as they misfired on their final 11 shots and committed seven turnovers in the period.
Meanwhile, the Lyons were stretching out their lead as Bodreau canned another triple, Alyssa Almario (West Orange, N.J.) and Kiley Shoemaker (Fayetteville, N.Y.) scored baskets and then as a team they went 7-for-9 from the charity stripe in the final 1:37 to secure the win.
Neither team shot the ball exceptionally well, with Wheaton hitting on just 33 percent and Clark on only 28 percent.
Wheaton held a slight edge on the interior, holding a 24-16 advantage on points in the paint and a 46-38 edge on the glass.
The game also featured 48 turnovers and a combined 9-for-37 performance from behind the arc.
Arnone finished with a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds, while Almario added 14 points, five rebounds and three steals. Shoemaker, meanwhile, had an off night shooting (3-for-14) but ended with a double-double of ten points and ten rebounds.
Clark was paced by Ezemma and her 10-for-12 effort at the free throw line on her way to 16 points and nine rebounds. O'Gara totaled 11 points, four assists and four steals while Wilder had seven points and five rebounds.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday with conference road contests. The Cougars head to Wellesley for a meeting with the Blue and Wheaton tangles with Smith in Northampton.