WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Juniors Caitlin Aguirre (El Paso, Texas) and Emily Kopp (King Ferry, N.Y.) combined for 38 points as Wellesley College basketball defeated Fitchburg State, 68-55, in the opening round of the University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) Tip-Off Tournament on Friday night at the O'Connell Center.
Wellesley opens the season with a victory for the second time in the last three seasons and will play the host Blue Jays in the tournament championship on Saturday. Fitchburg is now 2-1 and will play Mount Holyoke in the consolation final.
Aguirre led all players with 20 points, adding five rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Kopp dropped in a career-high 18 points to go along with five boards and two assists. The Blue finished the contest shooting 49.2 percent from the floor. First year Daisy Ella Johnson (Westport, Mass.) added eight points, while classmate Valentina Morakis (Long Island, N.Y.) and sophomore Alyssa Cho (Hillsborough, Calif.) each pulled down six of Wellesley's 39 rebounds.
Junior Angelina Marazzi (Manchester, N.H.) finished two assists shy of a double-double to lead Fitchburg St., scoring 17 points with eight assists and a pair of steals. Junior Emma Thomson (York, Maine) added 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, while sophomore Mishelle Logie (Attleboro, Mass.) chipped in with nine points. Junior Catherine Coppinger (Boston, Mass.) had a game-high eight rebounds in the setback.
The Blue opened the game on an 8-2 run before Fitchburg St. scored eight of the next ten points in the contest to tie the score at 10-all, as Marazzi hit a pair of free throws at 2:04. A triple from Kendall You Mak (San Francisco, Calif.) put the Blue back ahead, 13-10. Kopp then closed out the first quarter with layups on back-to-back Blue possession to give Wellesley a 17-13 lead.
Wellesley would go on to outscore the Falcons 22-14 in the second quarter, as a 16-3 run, capped by a Morakis layup, gave the Blue a 39-24 lead. A Fitchburg St. triple from Alicia Ruth (Plaistow, N.H.) would send the teams into the break with Wellesley leading 39-27. Wellesley continued to lead throughout the second half, eventually growing their advantage to as many as 20 when with Morakis made a layup with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter.
The Blue never trailed in the contest, scoring 48 points in the paint and 19 off of Fitchburg St. turnovers. The Blue had a 39-35 edge on the glass and a 10-2 lead in fastbreak points.
Sunday's Tip-Off Tournament Championship begins at 2:00 PM. The meeting between the Blue and the Blue Jays will be the first since USJ earned a 60-57 win at the 2002 Seven Sisters Championship.