WORCESTER -- In a contest that saw ten ties and four lead changes, visiting WPI closed the game on a 10-4 run over the final four minutes and the Engineers escaped with a hard-fought 63-57 win over Clark University in NEWMAC women's basketball action on Saturday afternoon at the Kneller Athletic Center.
With the win, the Engineers extend their winning streak to 14 straight to improve to 16-1 overall and remain perfect in league play at 8-0. For the Scarlet and White, meanwhile they have now dropped five games in a row to dip to 3-15.
The game was tied at 53-53 when Lisa Mendez (Yonkers, NY) ignited the game changing run for WPI with a jumper but it was Madison Beck (Syracuse, NY), who did most of the damage. First, she scored off of an excellent feed from Priscilla Dunphy (Barrington, RI) and then after Dunphy set up Tess Nogueira (Merrimac, MA) for an easy finish, Beck sealed the win with consecutive hoops in the final 70 seconds.
Things started out well for the hosts, who led 15-10 after they ended the first quarter on an 8-0 scoring spurt that saw them hold the Engineers scoreless for the final four-plus minutes of the frame.
Sam O'Gara (Worcester, MA) got loose for an easy hoop to start the second quarter to push the Cougar advantage to seven but when Mendez scored inside and Ama Biney (Worcester, MA) converted a traditional three-point play with 15 seconds left in the half, the game was knotted at 29-29 at intermission.
The Engineers took control in the opening minutes of the third quarter, holding Clark without a point for nearly the first seven minutes of the period and scoring nine straight highlighted by a pair of Dunphy baseline jumpers, making the score 38-29.
Clark finally put points on the board with a sweeping O'Gara drive, kickstarting a stretch that saw the Cougars score nine of the final 12 points of the period highlighted by a Kacey Legare (Chicopee, Mass.) three-point bomb and an O'Gara score on the break.
The Scarlet and White run continued into the final quarter as Legare knocked down a jumper and Aretha Sullivan (Worcester, MA) split a pair from the charity stripe to even the score at 41-41.
It was a back-and-forth affair for the next few minutes as each team answered each others' big plays. First Haili Welton (Southbury, CT) drilled a three-pointer that put the Engineers up, but Clark had a response courtesy of a Sullivan triple.
Stasha Greenalch (Newington, CT) had a strong finish inside but O'Gara was back at it again when she scored off of a great pass from Ogechi Ezemma (Hope Valley, RI).
After a Biney three-point play and a Mendez hoop gave WPI some breathing room at 53-48 with less than five minutes to play, the Cougars evened the score for the tenth and final time following an Ezemma score and another Legare three-pointer, making the score 53-53 with 3:51 to play.
Both teams wound up shooting the ball pretty good from the field as the Engineers connected on 51 percent of their attempts (27-for-53), while the Scarlet and White shot better than 45 percent for just the second time this season (46 percent).
Clark actually held a 31-28 edge on the glass but WPI outscored the Cougars 36-26 in the paint and with Beck and Mendez (8 points each) leading the way, the Engineer reserves outscored the Clark bench, 32-10.
Biney led WPI with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Dunphy was the only other Engineer in double figures with ten. Yasmeen Luna (North Providence, RI), meanwhile, handed out a career-best five assists and added four steals.
Clark was paced by an excellent performance from O'Gara. She finished with a game-best 19 points on 9-for-18 shooting, to go along with four rebounds and five assists.
Sullivan joined her in double figures with 11, while Legare (eight points) and Ezemma (seven points, three assists, two blocks) also had solid outings.
WPI wraps up its three game road stretch with a visit to Mount Holyoke on Wednesday, while the Cougars look to return to the win column when they host Wheaton. Both games are slated to tip off at 7pm.
Release Courtesy Clark Sports Information