Wellesley, MA --- Wellesley allowed just 16 second half points, as the Blue topped visiting WPI, 57-37, in NEWMAC women's basketball action on Saturday. The win, the eighth in a row for the Blue, improves Wellesley to 10-2 overall, 7-1 in the NEWMAC. The Engineers dip to 5-8 overall, 3-5 in conference play.
The Blue used a strong second half effort that featuring stifling defense and great ball control to turn a seven-point halftime edge into a 20-point win. Wellesley turned the ball over just three times in the period, and held WPI to 7-25 (28%) from the field.
Wellesley's Morgyne Weaver (Oklahoma City, OK) led all scorers with 15 points on the afternoon, while the junior also corralled seven rebounds. Senior Leslie Leong (Sacramento, CA) recorded her third double-double of the season, finishing with 13 points and 10 boards, while also adding five assists and four steals. Senior Katie Shulenberger (Ashland, OR) contributed nine points and five rebounds, while sophomore Chelsi Scott (Portland, MI) added eight points to round out the Blue offense.
WPI was paced by an 11-point effort from senior Kelly Morgan (Brookline, NH), while senior Siena Mamayek (Melrose, MA) recorded eight points and five rebounds. Junior Rachel Pineda (Shrewsbury, MA) finished with five points and a team-high four assists, while junior Dani Davis (East Granby, CT) picked up five rebounds and three steals in the loss.
It was a tight game early on, with the first ten minutes of play featuring three ties, with neither team able to garner more than a one-point lead. Leading 9-8, WPI put together a 9-2 run that spanned four minutes to take an 18-10 edge with 8:38 remaining in the half. Morgan hit a pair of threes during the Engineers run, while Haili Welton (Southbury, CT) added one of her own.
Wellesley responded with 12 straight points, turning the eight-point deficit into a 22-18 lead with 4:21 to play in the half. The Blue benefitted from four WPI turnovers during the run, while also adding threes from Leong and Kendall Bianchi (Arlington, VA).
The visitors stopped the bleeding with a three from Pineda with 3:35, marking WPI's first points in over five minutes, cutting the Wellesley edge to 22-21. Again, the Blue responded, closing the half with six straight points to take a 28-21 advantage into the locker room.
Weaver had nine first half points for Wellesley, while Leong and Shulenberger each had seven at the break. WPI was paced by six points apiece from Mamayek and Morgan.
In the second half, Wellesley quickly stretched the lead to 12 points, as a pair of driving lay-ups from Leong and a jumper from Weaver put the Blue up 38-26 at 14:06. WPI cut the Wellesley edge to nine, on a conventional three-point play from Jessica Larson (San Diego, CA), but that's as close as the Engineers would get.
Leading 38-29, Wellesley put together a 19-4 run that spanned the next nine minutes, as the Blue went up 24 with 4:47 to play. The run was sparked by six points from Scott and four from first-year Ailis Hanley (Cranston, RI).
After the Wellesley run, WPI got back-to-back buckets from Lisa Mendez (Yonkers, MA), but it wasn't enough as Wellesley closed out the 57-37 victory. The Blue ended the game with just nine turnovers, a season-low, while forcing 19 WPI turnovers.
Both teams will continue NEWMAC play on Wednesday at 7pm. Wellesley will host Wheaton, while WPI heads to Coast Guard.