WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Wellesley College basketball opened the game on a 19-3 run and limited the University of St. Joseph (Conn.) to just four field goals to take a 53-30 victory over the host Blue Jays in the championship game of the 21st Annual USJ Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the O'Connell Center.
Junior guard Caitlin Aguirre (El Paso, Texas) scored 18 points to earn tournament MVP honors while helping the Blue improve to 2-0 on the season. The host Blue Jays are now 2-2 to start the year.
Aguirre finished 7-of-14 from the field to lead all scorers, knocking down 3-of-8 attempts from distance while adding six boards, five assists and a steal in 31 minutes of action. Sophomore Alyssa Cho (Hillsborough, Calif.) finished one bucket shy of a double-double, scoring eight and pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds. Senior Zojajha Ayub (Belle Mead, N.J.) added eight points and five rebounds off the Blue bench, while junior Emily Kopp (King Ferry, N.Y.) also earned All-Tournament accolades after scoring 18 points in Friday's 68-55 first round win over Fitchburg St.
First year Cheyenne-Mone Smith (Wethersfield, Conn.) had 11 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the line to lead USJ. Smith also had a team-high six rebounds, helping her earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team for the hosts. Sophomore Anna Chevarella (Derby, Conn.) chipped in with six points for the Blue Jays, but USJ finished the contest just 4-for-29 from the floor and 0-for-7 from long range.
Aguirre scored 11 of her 18 points in the first half, as the Blue got out to a 30-19 lead at halftime. Wellesley used a 15-0 run to close out the first quarter and take control of the game from the early going. Aguirre knocked down back-to-back triples to close out the first quarter with Wellesley leading, 19-3. The Blue Jays cut into the 16-point deficit in the second, but only after the Blue lead grew to as many as 21 points with six minutes left in the half.
Leading by 11 at the break, Wellesley opened the third quarter on a 12-0 run that made the score 42-19 when Aguirre canned a jumper at 4:03. The 23 point matched Wellesley's largest of the game, as a 16-5 third quarter run put the contest out of reach heading in the final quarter. The teams combined for just 13 points over the final 10 minutes, with USJ unable to cut into Wellesley's double-digit lead. The Blue would go on to win by 23, taking the 53-30 final.
Wellesley finished the contest with a 39-24 advantage on the glass, a 20-6 lead in points in the paint and a 14-2 edge in second chance points. The Blue shot 39.2 percent (20-51) while limiting USJ to just 13.8 percent shooting from the floor.
Wellesley will travel to Simmons for a 7:00 PM contest on Tuesday, November 20. USJ will travel to Pine Manor on Tuesday at 6:00 PM.
All Tournament Team