Kordell, Pena, Hunt Lead MIT in Thriller over WPI

Freshman Mari Kordell
Freshman Mari Kordell

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Freshman Mari Kordell (Ijamsville, Md.) buried a jumper with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to give MIT a two-point edge as sophomore Tamara Pena (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) drained a pair of free throws with two ticks on the clock propelling the hosts to a 61-57 victory over WPI on Saturday afternoon. Kordell finished with 15 points, three assists, and two steals as MIT improved to 4-3 and 1-1 in the NEWMAC. WPI (2-5, 0-2) was led by junior Theresa Logan's (Southboro, Mass.) game-high 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor and 5-of-7 performance from the charity stripe in addition to seven rebounds.

Sophomore Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill.) tallied 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and added a career-tying seven blocks to go along with five rebounds and two steals. Pena finished with nine points and four boards as junior Anna Merrifield (Honolulu, Hawaii) totaled a team-high seven rebounds and six points. Freshman Alexxis Isaac (San Antonio, Texas) chipped in seven points while junior Lauren Sascha Burton (Seattle, Wash.) added four assists and two steals.

Freshman Dani Davis (East Granby, Conn.) registered 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals coming off the bench for WPI as senior Lauren Hannmann (East Greenbush, N.Y.) notched 12 points and seven boards. Senior Baillie McNally (Mapleville, R.I.) posted six caroms and three assists while junior Cindy Chelius (Northfield, N.J.) contributed three assists and three steals.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair as it featured three ties and four lead changes. Five straight points from Logan put WPI ahead, 19-17, with 5:57 on the clock. A three-point play by Hunt sparked a 10-2 run that resulted in MIT's largest lead of the game (29-21) with 2:04 left in the half. A Logan three-point play in addition to a three-pointer Hannmann brought WPI within two, but sophomore Sharon Hao's (San Jose, Calif.) trifecta gave MIT a 32-27 cushion right before the intermission.

Both squads traded baskets during the early stages of the second stanza and after four minutes of scoreless play, Pena drained a three-pointer which resulted in a 42-37 edge at the 10:39 mark. WPI responded with a 13-4 run during the next five minutes to reclaim the lead with Davis accounting for seven points.

Following its own timeout, MIT countered with nine unanswered points for a 55-50 advantage just inside the two-minute mark. Kordell's three-pointer ignited the rally as Hunt drove from outside the arc for a layup. Merrifield added a bucket on an in-bounds play under MIT's basket while Pena's jumper capped the spurt and prompted a timeout by WPI.

After the break, Hannmann hit a jumper but Hunt replied with a basket of her own with 1:12 to go. Two WPI fouls put MIT in the bonus but Kordell was unable to convert the front end of the one-and-one. Logan collected the rebound as it eventually led to a layup by Davis with 25 seconds remaining. A miscue on MIT's ensuing in-bounds attempt set up a three-pointer by Hannmann three seconds later that tied the game at 57 and caused WPI to call its final timeout.

With the ball in Kordell's hands, she pulled up for what proved to be the game-winning six-foot jumper with 10 seconds left. On WPI's ensuing trip down the court, Hunt blocked Chelius's shot with four seconds to go. Pena grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled, resulting in her trip to the charity stripe.

Both squads will continue NEWMAC play on the road on Tuesday, Dec. 6. MIT will travel to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy while WPI will visit Wheaton College.