Second-Half Run Propels Wellesley Past MIT, 47-42

Junior Rachel Hunt

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A 19-5 run that spanned eight minutes in the second half helped power Wellesley College past the MIT women's basketball team, 47-42, in a NEWMAC game on Wednesday night. Junior Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill.) tallied seven rebounds, six points, six blocks, and three steals for the Engineers (7-10, 3-8 NEWMAC). Senior Malia Maier (Torrance, Calif.) produced a game-high 13 points and six steals to go along with five rebounds and four assists for the Blue (9-6, 8-3 NEWMAC) which picked up its sixth straight win.

After senior Ashleigh Sargent (Bedford, N.H.) registered a layup and a free throw to give Wellesley a 3-2 edge, MIT responded with an 18-6 run that resulted in a 20-9 advantage at the 5:32 mark. The Blue gradually recorded eight unanswered points down the stretch as junior Leslie Leong's (Sacramento, Calif.) free throw with 11 seconds to go trimmed the deficit to 20-17.

Freshman Maya Ramachandran (Fremont, Calif.) drained a pair of free throws after 1:38 elapsed in the second stanza to give MIT some breathing room; however, sophomore Courtney Jackson's (Baldwin, N.Y.) basket on Wellesley's ensuing possession sparked its pivotal run. Sargent, Leong, and Maier each contributed five points during the rally which established a 36-27 lead midway through the frame. The Engineers countered with an 8-2 spurt as three-pointers by freshman Durva Bhandare (North Brunswick, N.J.) and sophomore Mari Kordell (Ijamsville, Md.) sandwiched a jumper from sophomore Michelle Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.) and narrowed the gap to three (38-35) with 5:50 left to play.

Following two minutes of scoreless action, Maier sank a layup and added a three-pointer to increase the Blue's cushion to eight with 2:27 on the clock. MIT continued to attack, capitalizing on two layups by Ramachandran to trim the margin to 43-39 with 31 seconds remaining. The Engineers immediately fouled Leong on the in-bounds play who hit both of ends of the one-and-one. Kordell quickly cut the deficit in half (45-42) with a trey and then sent Wellesley back to the charity stripe in the double-bonus where it failed to convert both attempts with 18 seconds to go. On MIT's next trip down the court, senior Lauren Sascha Burton (Seattle, Wash.) tried to even the score but her trifecta was just off the mark. The Cardinal and Gray stopped the clock by fouling Sargent with five ticks left who sealed the victory by sinking both of her shots.

Kordell finished with a team-high 10 points and added six rebounds while Burton posted seven points and five assists. Ramachandran totaled six points, six boards, two blocks, and two assists as Battipaglia chipped in eight points and five rebounds coming off the bench. Freshman Sabrina Drammis (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) contributed six rebounds and two steals while junior Tamara Pena (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) grabbed three steals.

Sargent racked up 12 points and six rebounds while Leong hauled in a game-high 11 caroms in addition to nine points. As a team, Wellesley had the advantage in points in the paint (22-12) and points off turnovers (15-8) while its 18 offensive rebounds generated nine second-chance points.

Both squads continue NEWMAC play on Saturday, January 26. MIT will host WPI while Wellesley travels to Springfield College.