Wellesley Basketball Holds-On To Top Worcester State, 57-52

Pujita Shukla finished with 14 points for the Blue (Frank Poulin).
Pujita Shukla finished with 14 points for the Blue (Frank Poulin).

WORCESTER, Mass. -- First year Jiyun Chae (Chantilly, Va.) finished one rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine boards, to lead Wellesley College basketball to a 57-52 non-conference victory over Worcester State University on Tuesday evening at John P Brissette Court. 

Chae added four steals for Wellesley (5-1 overall), while senior Emily Kopp (King Ferry, N.Y.) and first year Pujita Shukla (Austin, Texas) each dropped in a team-high 14 points. Kopp finished the contest 6-for-7 from the floor and added four rebounds. Senior Kendall You Mak (San Francisco, Calif.) added seven points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block in 22 minutes off the Wellesley bench. 

First year Charlotte MacMillan (Brunswick, Maine) scored a game-high 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting to lead the Lancers (4-4 overall). Erin Gallella (Tewksbury, Mass.) added 12 points and Mya Mosley (Worcester, Mass.) chipped in with 10 points and eight rebounds but it wasn't enough to help the Lancers overcome a 15-point second half deficit. Catherine Sweeney (Lowell, Mass.) finished with a game-high 13 rebounds in the setback. Worcester St. finished the game with a 38-37 edge on the glass. 

A 9-2 Wellesley run to close out the first quarter gave the visitors a 14-7 lead after ten minutes of play. Wellesley went on to extend the seven-point advantage to 14 at halftime, outscoring the Lancers, 17-10, in the second quarter. Layups by Chae at 9:08 and Kopp at 8:21 pushed the first quarter run into the second, bringing the score to 18-7. Kopp extended the Blue lead to 20-7 with a pair of free throws before MacMillan snapped the 15-2 run with a triple at 6:21 to make the score 20-10. However, the Blue continued to outscore the Lancers, 11-7, over the final six minutes of the half to take a 31-17 lead to the break. 

Trailing at the half, Worcester St. would go on to outscore the Blue 35-26 after the break. Back-to-back layups for Gallella and Mosley started-off the second half, trimming the Blue lead to 31-21. The Lancers eventually cut their deficit to seven with 3:19 remaining in the third, but the Blue would take a ten-point lead, 44-34, into the fourth quarter. 

Buckets from Kopp and Cho at the start of the fourth increased the Blue lead to 48-34. However, the Lancers countered with a 10-0 run that cut the lead to 48-44 when Sweeney put back a MacMillan miss at 4:16. Chae stopped the run with a three-pointer at 3:15, as Wellesley continued to hold a 51-44 lead until the final minute. Worcester St. used an 8-2 run, spurred by back-to-back threes from Gallella and MacMillan, to cut the lead to one, 53-52, with eight seconds to play. The Blue sealed the win behind four consecutive free throws from You Mak, holding on for the 57-52 final.

Wellesley was 21-of-57 (36.8%) from the floor and 12-of-16 (75%) from the line. The Lancers finished 5-for-10 from the line and 20-of-56 from the floor (35.7%)

The Blue return to action on Friday, December 6, at 8:00PM as they take on Me.-Presque Isle at the Ed Hockenbury Classic (Norwich). The Lancers will host MIT on Wednesday, December 4, at 7:00 PM.