MIT Stuns Wheaton, 75-65, in Overtime

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Solid free-throw shooting during the last two minutes of overtime helped power the MIT women’s basketball team to a 75-65 victory over Wheaton College in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Thursday. The Engineers picked up their first win against the Lyons since the 2002-03 season and saw their ledger improve to 5-16 on the year and 3-12 NEWMAC play. Wheaton, previously tied for second in the NEWMAC, moved to 13-9 overall and 10-5 league action.

Aparna Sud led MIT with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including a 3-of-6 performance from behind the arc and a 4-of-6 outing at the charity stripe. She also hauled in nine rebounds and three steals. Sally Simpson tallied a career-high 17 points to go along with seven boards and three steals. Lauren Sascha Burton posted 17 points and eight assists while Stephanie Cooke tallied eight caroms, six points, and three assists. Anna Merrifield rounded out the squad with eight rebounds and eight points.

Andrea Bailey powered the Lyons with 17 points; including a trio three-pointers during the final 38 seconds of regulation that forced overtime. She also racked up 14 rebounds and seven assists. Jenny Champney and Gabby Barbera each registered 12 points as Champney snagged eight boards. Jeana Trimboli added 11 points to the visitors’ cause.

A Trimboli three-pointer and a layup from Champney helped Wheaton establish an early lead, but a 9-3 spurt put MIT in front, 13-8, with 11:52 on the clock. The Lyons stayed within striking distance, narrowing the gap to two on three occasions, the last coming on a trey by Barbera that made the score 23-21 at the 4:02 mark. The Engineers responded with 10 unanswered points in a two-minute span for their largest lead of the night. On Wheaton’s next trip down the court, Trimboli drained another three-pointer to put the count at 33-24 which would through the intermission.

The scoring was balanced during the early stages of the second stanza as MIT held a 44-33 lead at the 13:17 mark. Wheaton went on to outscore the Engineers, 15-7, during the next eight minutes to cut its deficit to three (51-48). Burton’s jumper with 2:18 on the clock gave the Cardinal and Gray some breathing room, however a free-throw by Ida Kruse exactly 10 seconds later kept the Lyons close.

With a minute left in regulation, Cooke was fouled while grabbing the offensive rebound off the front-end of a missed one-an-one attempt. She sank both shots which pushed MIT’s advantage to 55-49. After three unsuccessful free-throw attempts by the Engineers, Bailey drained a three-pointer with 38 seconds remaining. A foul sent Sud to the charity stripe, where she hit the first of her two shots. Bailey gathered the rebound and then hit another trifecta with 15 seconds on the clock to bring Wheaton within one (56-55). Burton was immediately fouled and then converted both of her free-throw attempts. Bailey’s hot shooting continued as her three-pointer with four seconds left tied the game at 58.

The Lyons carried the momentum into the extra session as a jumper by Stephanie Michals gave them their first lead since the opening moments of the contest. A layup by Sud ignited a 9-0 run which gave MIT a 67-60 advantage with 1:54 to go. Seven seconds later, Barbera hit a three-pointer that ended Wheaton’s three-minute scoring drought. The Engineers went on to go 8-of-12 from the free-throw line to seal the win as a basket by the Lyons’ Stephanie Walker with 13 seconds on the clock marked the lone field goal for both squads down the stretch.

MIT shot a season-high 45.6 percent for the game, including a 51.9 performance in the first half, compared to an outing of 35.7 percent by Wheaton. The Engineers registered advantages in points in the paint (24-16) and points off turnovers (17-4) while the Lyons had the upper-hand in bench scoring (18-0), three-pointers (12-7), and rebounding (44-41).

Both squads will continue conference play on Saturday, Feb. 13. MIT will travel to Mount Holyoke College while Wheaton will host Smith College.