Late Rally Falls Short For Blue Basketball In Senior Day Setback To Wheaton

(Julia Monaco)
(Julia Monaco)

WELLESLEY, Mass. – Senior Ailis Hanley (Cranston, R.I.) capped her Wellesley College basketball career with her first double-double of the season, but the host Blue dropped a narrow 58-55 decision to Wheaton College in the New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) finale for both squads on Saturday at Gracia Mangano Martore '73 Court. 

Hanley scored 12 points and matched her career-high with 12 rebounds, as the Blue finished the 2016-17 season with an 8-14 overall record and a 4-12 mark in conference play. Wheaton closes out the year with a 5-20 overall record, going 3-13 in the NEWMAC. 

Wheaton junior guard Jill Bodreau (Thompson, Conn.) dropped in 17 points to lead the Lyons. Bodreau finished the game 6-for-11 from field, scoring all but one of her baskets from beyond the arc. Classmate Emily Cuthbertson (Hudson, N.H.) dished out a career-high nine assists in the contest, finding Bodreau on multiple occasions, while also collecting six boards. Junior Rebecca Olivieri (Milton, Mass.) and first year Lexi L'Heureux-Carland (Bridgton, Maine) each added nine points and junior Ruthie Zientek (Holmdel, N.J.) had a team-high seven rebounds.

Wellesley first year guard Caitlin Aguirre (El Paso, Texas) and sophomore Zojajha Ayub (Belle Mead, N.J.) joined Hanley in double-figures, with Aguirre pouring in a game-high 18 points and Ayub scoring 12 points. Aguirre was 4-of-5 from three-point range and finishes the season as the first Wellesley first year to lead the team in scoring since Becca Kimball '14 in 2009-10. First year guard Kendall You Mak (San Francisco, Claif.) came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds and add six points, while junior Chelsea Brown (San Jose, Calif.) had a team-high four assists.

A 13-5 first quarter run from the visitors turned out to be the difference in a contest that was decided by one possession. The Lyons broke an early 3-3 tie with a 10-0 run to take a 13-3 edge at 1:36. Hanley snapped the run at the end of the first, igniting an 11-0 Wellesley run that saw Wellesley take its first, and only, lead of the game, at 14-13, with 6:38 to play in the second. Back-to-back triples from Olivieri and Bodreau put Wheaton out ahead 19-14, before first year Keer Sun (Pine Brook, N.J.) and Hanley hit consecutive jumpers to pull Wellesley within one. However, Wheaton outscored the Blue 8-4 in the final two minutes to take a 26-22 lead into the break.

L'Heureux-Carland scored the first and last bucket of a 10-2 Wheaton run to open the second half, helping the Lyons extend their lead to 36-24 at 6:23 of the third. Wellesley again countered, scoring eight-straight points to cut the margin to 36-32, but couldn't find a way past the Lyons, as Wheaton scored seven of the final ten points in the frame to carry a 44-35 lead into the fourth. A furious fourth quarter rally from the Blue fell just short, as Wellesley outscored the Lyons 20-14 over the final ten minutes of play but could only cut the deficit to three before dropping the 58-55 final.

Wellesley finished the game shooting 33.8 percent (22-65) from the field and 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) from beyond the arc. Wheaton countered at 36.5 percent (19-52) and hit a season-high 10 three-pointers on 29 attempts from distance. The Blue grabbed a 40-39 edge on the boards and outscored the Lyons 26-14 in the paint in their season finale.