WELLESLEY, Mass. -- The Wellesley College basketball team held off a late charge from visiting Clark University to post a 58-53 victory in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's basketball action on Saturday afternoon. The win improves Wellesley to 10-9 overall, 9-5 in the NEWMAC, while Clark stands at 14-7 overall, 10-4 in league play.
Despite Wellesley holding a lead through much of the game, Clark used a substantial run late in the second half to threaten. The Blue, however, denied the comeback using solid free throw shooting down the stretch to seal the victory. The loss dips Clark to third in the NEWMAC, while Wellesley is a game back, holding sole possession of fourth place.
Wellesley took an early lead, building a 15-5 advantage midway through the half, backed by five quick points from Leslie Leong. The Blue led by as many as 11 in the first half, before Clark used a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 24-22 with 1:40 on the clock. Emily Reilly paced the Cougars during the span, tallying five points, including a three. Wellesley's Malia Maier then hit a big three for the Blue, sending the home team into the break with a 27-22 advantage.
Wellesley's Leong contributed 10 points and seven boards in the first half, while Reilly added six points for the Cougars.
Wellesley came out of the locker room on a 7-2 run, quickly building a 34-24 advantage. The Blue maintained a double-digit lead for much of the period, opening their largest advantage on another Maier three that set the score to 48-35 with 8:53 to play.
Clark, however, used hot shooting from beyond the arc, going on a 16-1 run over the next 3:30, to pull to within two at 51-49 with 5:32 remaining. The Cougars hit four straight threes during their run, three from Kelsey Giedymin and one from Kate Minister. The Blue then righted the ship, as four straight points from Morgyne Weaver set the score to 55-49 with 4:15 to play.
Again, Clark fought back. Back-to-back lay-ups from Ashleigh Condon pulled the Cougars to within two (55-53) with just over a minute remaining in the game. Then, after a missed Wellesley lay-up and a defensive board, Clark had the chance to tie the game but could not convert a pair of free throws with 18 ticks on the clock. Wellesley then got two free throws from Weaver and another from Elisha Orama to halt Clark's comeback and pull away for the 58-53 victory.
Weaver led all scorers with 20 points, including 12 in the second half, while also adding eight rebounds. Maier finished the game with 15 points (12 second half) and five steals, while Leong recorded 14 points and a team-high nine boards. Rounding of the offense for the Blue, Orama dished out five assists.
For Clark, Giedymin and Reilly led four Cougars in double figures, tallying 13 points each. Condon had a solid all-around game with 10 points, four assists and three steals, while Megan Grondin recorded 10 points. Victoria Russo led Clark on the boards, with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Wellesley returns to the hardwood on Wednesday, traveling to Wheaton for a 5:30 tip-off. Clark also plays on Wednesday, hosting Smith at 7:00pm.