Wheaton Fights Off Engineers, 56-46

Sophomore Tamara Pena

NORTON, Mass. – MIT cut its deficit to three on seven occasions in the second half, but Wheaton College managed to hold on for a 56-45 win in a NEWMAC women's basketball game on Wednesday night. Freshman Alexxis Isaac (San Antonio, Texas) paced the Engineers (10-13, 6-11 NEWMAC) with 13 points to go along with four rebounds.

Freshman Mari Kordell (Ijamsville, Md.) tallied 11 points on a 7-of-10 performance from the charity stripe, in addition to five assists and three steals in 40 minutes of action. Junior Lauren Sascha Burton (Seattle, Wash.) posted five boards, four points, two assists, and one steal as sophomore Tamara Pena (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) produced 11 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Freshman Michelle Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.) added four caroms, three steals, and one block to MIT's cause.

As a team, the Engineers committed only six turnovers which tied the Institute record they set two years ago at Wheaton. In addition, the Cardinal and Gray generated 15 points off of 15 turnovers by the Lyons.

MIT built a 6-2 lead during the first four minutes, and after three ties, Burton's layup put it in front, 14-12, with 7:50 on the clock. Wheaton responded with eight unanswered points to capture an advantage it would not relinquish. Sophomore Margo Batie's (Los Angeles, Calif.) put-back ended the Engineers' scoring drought with 1:38 left in the half. The Lyons registered a jumper on their ensuing possession which resulted in a 22-16 lead at the intermission.

In the second stanza, Tech stayed within striking distance, narrowing the gap to 31-28 on a Pena three-pointer at the 14:00 mark. Wheaton countered with an 8-2 spurt in a span of 3:30 to create some breathing room. Pena immediately buried a trey while Isaac knocked down one of her own, making the score 39-36 with 7:33 to go. Over a minute later the Lyons sank a layup, but Kordell drained two free throws on the visitors' next trip down the court.

Wheaton followed with a three-pointer right before the shot clock expired while Kordell tacked on another free throw. The Lyons then extended their margin to 46-39 on a jumper with 4:20 left to play. MIT battled back, coming within three on two Kordell free throws and an Isaac layup at 1:29. The hosts converted two shots from the charity stripe while Battipaglia answered with a basket that narrowed the gap to 48-45 with one minute remaining in regulation.

After back-to-back timeouts by the Lyons, they hit a three-pointer with 32 seconds on the clock. The Engineers' next field goal attempt was the off the mark and fell in the hands of the Wheaton defense. A quick foul put the Lyons on the free throw line where they scored their final five points of the game.

MIT returns to Cambridge on Saturday, Feb. 18 where it will close out the regular season against Clark University.