February 5, 2011

MIT Drops Overtime Heartbreaker to Wellesley

BABSON PARK, Mass. – Leslie Leong's layup with two seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime and helped propel the Wellesley College women's basketball team to a 59-51 victory over NEWMAC rival MIT on Saturday evening. The game was held on the campus of Babson College due to unplayable court conditions at Wellesley.

The Blue (10-9, 7-6 NEWMAC) was led by 17 points and seven assists from Malia Maier, and double-doubles by Leong and Becca Kimball. Leong picked up 12 points with 11 rebounds, while Kimball added 14 points and 10 boards. Elisha Orama rounded out the scoring with nine points for Wellesley.

Margo Batie paced the Engineers (8-12, 4-10 NEWMAC) with 11 points as Rachel Hunt tallied 10 points, six rebounds, five blocks, and four assists. Lauren Sascha Burton notched eight points, eight boards, four steals, and three assists while Tamara Pena chipped in nine points and two steals. Anna Merrifield racked up nine points, four rebounds, two blocks, and one steal for the visitors.

Wellesley built a 13-6 advantage midway through the opening frame. MIT narrowed gap to two on three occasions, the last at 18-16 on Merrifield's three-pointer. Kimball's free throw and Orama's trey increased Wellesley's cushion, however, the Engineers cut their deficit in half (22-19) on Hunt's three-point play with 1:29 left in the half. Maier's layup inside the final minute gave the Blue a 24-19 edge at the break.

The second stanza was a back-and-forth battle as it featured eight ties and seven lead changes. Following the fifth tie of period, Rebecca Odim put MIT in front, 36-34, but a Maier trey and layup coupled with a Kimball three-point play pushed Wellesley ahead, 42-36, with 5:52 left.

MIT countered with an 11-2 run in a two-minute span to establish its largest lead of night (47-44) with 3:14 to go. The rally featured three consecutive baskets from behind the arc as Pena's shots sandwiched Batie's trifecta. A layup by the Blue's Katie Shulenberger at 1:40 cut the deficit to one as Maier knotted the contest by draining the second of her two free throw attempts with 59 seconds on the clock.

Immediately upon reentering the game after spending six minutes on the bench, Merrifield drained a baseline jumper with 36 seconds to play to give the Engineers a 49-47 lead. Wellesley was unsuccessful on its next trip down the court and was forced to foul with 13 seconds left. Burton extended MIT's margin by converting the front-end of a one-and-one, but her second shot was just off the mark. Leong, who was fouled after grabbing the rebound, went 1-of-2 at the charity stripe.

On the ensuing in-bounds, Wellesley fouled the Engineers with 11 ticks on the clock. A missed first attempt resulted in another rebound for Leong, who sprinted the length of the court and drained the tying layup.

The Blue carried the momentum into overtime, capitalizing on the Engineers losing two key starters to fouls. Wellesley held MIT without a field goal in the extra session, closing with a 9-1 run for the 59-51 victory.