Worcester, MA --- Clark University erased a 14-point second half deficit and the host Cougars continued their strong play of late, rallying past crosstown rival WPI, 57-53, in New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's basketball action on Wednesday evening.
The win for the Scarlet and White is their fourth in their last five games to improve to 8-9 overall and 5-7 in conference contests. WPI, meanwhile, sees its two-game winning streak snapped and now sit at 7-10 overall and 5-7 in league games.
Clark found itself down by 14 in the early moments of the second half after consecutive hoops from Amaia Gritsko (Milford, CT) and Siena Mamayek (Melrose, MA) gave the Engineers a 35-21 edge. The Cougars struggled offensively through the entire first half, connecting on just six baskets – five of which came from behind the arc.
Clark then embarked on a 16-3 spurt over the next six and a half minutes in which they held the Engineers to one made basket in eight attempts and forced three turnovers. Several players contributed to the run as the Cougars got points from Gwyneth Ivory (Ashland, MA), Brooke Brennan (Weston, MA), Annmarie Fransen (Belmont, MA), Megan Grondin (Cumberland, ME), Victoria Russo (Arlington, MA) and Emily Reilly (Marlboro, MA).
When the dust cleared the score was tied at 50-50, but the Crimson and Grey went back ahead on a steal and pullup jumper from Yasmeen Luna (North Providence, RI).
Clark took its first lead since the score was 14-13 on their next trip down when Grondin found a cutting Esther Cohn (Chapel Hill, NC) for a strong finish and her subsequent free throw gave the Cougars a 53-52 edge with 2:45 left.
Dani Davis (East Granby, CT) split a pair of free throws to tie the game at the 2:04 mark and after each team had scoreless trips down the court, Reilly gave Clark a 55-53 advantage on a running leaner in the lane with 53 seconds to play.
WPI had a couple of chances to go ahead but Pineda had her shot blocked out of bounds by Ashleigh Condon (Hull, MA) and Davis came up short on a tightly contested jumper with 26 seconds left.
Condon then nailed two free throws with 11 seconds left to put the game out of reach and secure the win for the Cougars.
After shooting 44 percent in the opening stanza, WPI went cold in the final 20 minutes, connecting on just nine of 28 attempts.
The stat sheet was pretty even overall, with Clark holding slight edges in rebounds (38-36), points in the paint (20-18) and second chance points (7-5). Neither team took good care of the ball as they combined for 43 turnovers and the Cougars converted the Engineers 21 miscues into 18 points.
Mamayek led all scorers with a career-best 19 points (7-for-12) and five boards, while Davis scored 14 of 15 points in the first half. She added eight rebounds and six assists in a game-high 38 minutes.
Clark was paced by Brennan, who totaled 14 points and six rebounds, connecting on four three-points. Reilly added 13 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Cohn continued her excellent effort on the glass, coming down with a game-high11 to go along with three blocks and three points.
The Cougars will return to the hardwood on Saturday with a home contest against Mount Holyoke. WPI has a week off until they play again – a road contest at Springfield on January 29.
Release Courtesy Clark Sports Information