WPI Edges out Women's Basketball, 37-34

Sophomore Michelle Battipaglia

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – On the strength of an 11-of-12 performance from the free throw line, the WPI women's basketball team edged out MIT, 37-34, in a NEWMAC game on Saturday afternoon. Sophomore Michelle Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.) tallied seven points, five rebounds, two steals, and a block for MIT (7-11, 3-9 NEWMAC) while junior Siena Mamayek (Melrose, Mass.) registered seven points and six rebounds for WPI (11-7, 7-5 NEWMAC).

Both squads struggled on the offensive end during the first half as they combined for an 18 percent shooting performance. Trailing by two points, Mamayek drained a pair of free throws and then sank a three pointer to put WPI in front, 9-6, with 5:18 left in the frame. WPI gained some breathing room courtesy of two free throws by junior Kelly Morgan (Brookline, N.H.); however, freshman Sabrina Drammis (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) replied with two of her own to keep MIT close. Sophomore Amaia Gritsko (Milford, Conn.) generated the next five points for WPI as her two free throws and three-point play sandwiched a layup by MIT freshman Maya Ramachandran (Fremont, Calif.) which gave WPI a 16-10 lead at halftime.

MIT opened the second stanza with an 8-2 spurt that featured five points by senior Lauren Sascha Burton (Seattle, Wash.) and a trey from junior Tamara Pena (Aliso Viejo, Calif.). WPI responded with back-to-back Morgan layups and a jumper from Gritsko to go up, 24-18, at the 14:22 mark. During the next nine minutes, MIT generated a 12-4 run with a Drammis trifecta putting it in front, 30-28. Following two ties, a put-back by Battipagalia gave MIT a 34-32 edge with just over three minutes left to play.

After both teams failed to score on their next possession, sophomore Rachel Pineda (Shrewsbury, Mass.) drained a three-pointer late in the shot clock to give WPI a lead it would not relinquish (35-34) with two minutes remaining. Following a turnover and then a missed shot by MIT, a foul put Pineda on the line where she hit both shots with 19 seconds on the clock. The hosts almost knotted the game at 37 but Burton's three-point attempt rimmed out and was grabbed by WPI senior Cindy Chelius (Northfield, N.J.) with nine ticks left. Two quick fouls ensued, which put WPI in the bonus but it failed to convert the front-end of the one-and-one attempt with four seconds to go. MIT in-bounded the ball to sophomore Mari Kordell (Ijamsville, Md.) whose half-court desperation shot fell short as the final buzzer sounded.

Burton totaled seven points and three steals while Ramachandran posted six points, six rebounds, four blocks, and three assists. Drammis tacked on seven points and two blocks as junior Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill.) hauled in five rebounds. Kordell finished with four steals and four rebounds for MIT.

Gritsko notched seven points and four rebounds while Chelius added six points and a game-high seven boards. Morgan bolstered the balanced attack with six points as sophomore Dani Davis (East Granby, Conn.) chipped in four rebounds.

Both squads continue NEWMAC play on the road on Wednesday, January 30. MIT will travel to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy while WPI will visit Wheaton College.