Wellesley Basketball Hangs On To Earn NEWMAC Win Over Wheaton, 52-49

Senior Kayla Jang helped orchestrate the Wellesley offense with six assists in a great all-around performance (Julia Monaco).
Senior Kayla Jang helped orchestrate the Wellesley offense with six assists in a great all-around performance (Julia Monaco).

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Sophomore Caitlin Aguirre (El Paso, Texas) scored the final seven Blue points of the game to help Wellesley College basketball hold on for a 52-49 New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) victory over Wheaton College on Wednesday at Dorothy Towne Fieldhouse. Wednesday's game also featured a halftime celebration for Wellesley student-athletes in recognition of the 32nd Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day.

The Blue improve to 8-12 overall and are still in the hunt for a spot in the NEWMAC postseason with a 5-8 record in conference. Wheaton slides to 7-15 overall (2-11 NEWMAC).

Aguirre finished the contest with 16 points, six rebounds, and a pair of steals. Senior Kayla Jang (South Pasadena, Calif.) helped orchestrate the Wellesley offense with six assists, adding nine points, four steals, five rebounds, and two blocks in a great all-around performance. Sophomore Emily Kopp (King Ferry, N.Y.) chipped in with 12 points for the Blue.

Wheaton senior Rebecca Olivieri (Milton, Mass.) dropped in a game-high 17 points to lead the Lyons. First year Mikayla Pucci (Hopkinton, Mass.) added 12 points and collected 10 boards to record her second double-double of the season. Seniors Emily Cuthbertson (Hudson, N.H.) and Oppie Morris (Ware, Mass.) each added six points, respectively, in the setback.

With the teams tied at 33-33 following the third quarter, Wellesley opened the fourth on a 5-0 run, as Jang and first year Alyssa Cho (Hillsborough, Calif.) knocked down shots on the first two Wellesley possessions. A 30-second Wheaton timeout then spurred a 6-0 Lyon run that gave the visitors a 39-38 lead at 7:24. Aguirre halted the Wheaton rally with a layup at 7:04, igniting a 9-0 Wellesley run that put the Blue ahead 47-39 with 3:55 left in regulation.

With Wellesley ahead by their largest margin of the night, Wheaton responded, cutting the deficit to three, at 47-44, following a layup by Pucci at 2:28. An Aguirre jumper at 1:55 pushed the Blue back ahead, 49-44, but Cutherbertson canned a three on the next Wheaton possession to make it a two-point game, at 49-47. However, Aguirre knocked down three free throws in the closing seconds to help Wellesley secure the 52-49 win.

Wellesley finished the game shooting 39.6% (21-of-53) from the floor, while Wheaton countered at 35.4% (17-of-48). The visitors finished with a slim 34-33 edge on the glass, but Wellesley outscored the Lyons 28-18 in the paint.

Wellesley will host Coast Guard in their next contest on Saturday, February 10, at 2:00 PM. Wheaton will welcome Smith for a 1:00 PM contest on Saturday.