Wheaton Holds Off Bears For First Place in NEWMAC

Wheaton Holds Off Bears For First Place in NEWMAC

NORTON, Mass. – Sophomore Kiley Shoemaker and junior Abbie Brickley each had 25 points while  Shoemaker added a game-high 16 rebounds as Wheaton moved into sole possession of first place in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) with a 77-66 win over Coast Guard.

Wheaton, which entered the game in third place in the conference, improves to 17-4 overall and 12-4 in the NEWMAC while the Bears drop to 15-4 overall and 11-4 in league play. The Lyons complete the sweep of the season series as they beat Coast Guard 71-63 on January 4th in New London.

The Lyons took the lead for good in this back-and-forth affair 62-60 with five minutes left on an off balance banked hook shot from the elbow by Brickley with the shot clock winding down.

Wheaton would extend the lead to 68-62 on layup by Shoemaker with 3:09 left.

Senior Brittney Zimmerman would hit a 3-pointer for Coast Guard to pull to within 68-65 with 2:57 left, but the Lyons would make nine of ten free throws to put the game away.

Wheaton scored the first five points of the second half to take a 44-36 lead. Coast Guard would battle back using an 8-2 run to take its first lead since the opening minutes 54-53 on a 3-pointer by sophomore Meghan Fornaro with 10:14 left in the game. Fornaro had seven of the eight points in the run.

The Lyons shot 45.6 percent from the floor (26-57) while making six of 16 from behind the arc while Coast Guard shot 32.9 percent (24-73), just 24.3 percent in the second half (9-37) from the field. The Bears were just 8 of 33 from behind the arc in the loss.

Junior Dani Knox had a season-high 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season while Fornaro also had 15 points to go with six rebounds for the Bears while junior Alexi Howland had a season-high six assists.

Fornaro scored six straight points to give Coast Guard an early 6-2 lead with 16:29 left in the first half. The Bears made just three of their first 14 field goals and the Lyons used a full court press to key a 9-2 spurt as they  took their first lead of the game 11-8 following a 3-pointer by junior Kenzie Kuhn with 13:38 left in a first half which saw both teams make several runs.

Brickley would cap a 10-2 run with five straight as Wheaton opened up a 23-14 lead with 9:13 left. Coast Guard answered quickly with back-to-back treys from sophomore Torie Sutherland and Howland before an old fashion 3-point play by senior Kaitlin Ward capped a 9-0 run to tie it 23-23 with 7:38 left in the half.

Wheaton would score eight of the next ten for a 31-25 lead with 5:38 left in the opening stanza and the Lyons pushed the lead back to nine at 36-27 with 3:58 remaining.

Coast Guard again scored nine straight started on a 3-pointer by Knox and capped on a 3-pointer by Howland to tie the game 36-36 with 20 seconds left.

Sophomore Rebecca Arnone hit a 3-pointer with six seconds left in the half to give the Lyons a 39-36 lead at the break.

Wheaton shot 53.3 percent from the field in the first half and made 4 of 8 from 3-point range while the Bears shot 41.7 percent in the opening half (15-36) while hitting 4 of 15 from behind the arc in the opening half.

"I was happy with our effort. We fought back several times and took the lead in the second half," said Coast Guard head coach Alex Ivansheck. "I was pleased with our fight, but we have to do a better job of containing their players, we can't have two players combine for 50 points and expect to win."

Coast Guard, playing the first of four games in seven days, is back in action on Saturday when they travel to Emerson with tip set for noon. The Bears will then play at archrival Merchant Marine on Monday at 7 p.m. before returning home to host Mount Holyoke on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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