Worcester, MA --- Host WPI used a strong first half defensive effort and survived a furious Wheaton second half rally to deliver head coach Cherise Galasso her 200th career win with a 61-52 triumph over the Lyons in a NEWMAC women's basketball contest on Saturday afternoon.
The victory pushes WPI's winning streak to a season-best four games, and coupled with Springfield 61-48 win at Wellesley, moves the Crimson and Gray into sole possession of second place in the loop, a game behind nationally-ranked Babson. The Engineers are now 9-3 overall and 5-1 in conference action. Wheaton slips to 5-7 overall and 2-4 in NEWMAC play.
Galasso, who is already WPI's all-time leader in coaching wins, now sports a 200-153 (.567) overall record, including a 165-115 (.589) mark in her 11 seasons on Boynton Hill and a 35-38 ledger during a three-year stint at Regis.
WPI held the Lyons to 6-of-30 (20%) shooting from the floor in the first half, including 1-of-12 from behind the 3-point line en route to opening up a 29-14 advantage at the half. The Engineers would open up a 24-point edge in the opening minutes of the second stanza before Wheaton began to heat up. The visitors rattled off 30 of the next 40 points to get within four at 53-49 with 3:12 remaining Lauren Hannmann (East Greenbush, NY) drained a key 3-poiner and WPI 5-of-7 free throws in the final 2:02 to hold off the Lyons.
Hannmann paced WPI with 17 points and 11 rebounds. It marked the second career double-double for the junior. Elle Fontaine (Franklin, MA) and Theresa Logan (Southboro, MA) both tossed 13 points while Melissa Kuhn (Stoughton, MA) contributed eight points and doled out a team-high four assists.
Gabby Barbera (Ridgewood, NJ) sparked the Lyons with 17 points off the bench. The junior canned four 3-pointers on the day while tallying 14 points after the intermission. Jeana Trimboli (Norwalk, CT) was also a key cog in the second half rally as she netted 13 of her 15 points after halftime. As a team, Wheaton shot 14-27 (51.9%) from the floor in the second half, including 7-of-14 from downtown.
Gabbie DePalo (Rumson, NJ) paced the visitors on the glass with nine boards while Laura Pierce (Hampstead, NH) led all players with six assists.
WPI hits the road for a pair of contests next week beginning Wednesday with a trip to South Hadley for a 7pm match-up versus Mount Holyoke. Wheaton plays its final of five straight away from home at the same time on Wednesday when they head to Cambridge to face MIT.