Wesleyan University and Bridgewater St. both stayed undefeated on the year with first-round victories in the Courtyard by Marriott Tournament hosted by Wesleyan Fri., Dec. 3, as Wesleyan cruised past Keystone, 71-29, while Bridgewater fought off Vassar, 72-64, to set up a battle of the unbeatens in the tournament championship game Saturday at 3 p.m.
The first half of the Wesleyan-Keystone game had three distinct segments. Wesleyan owned two of them as the Cardinals opened the game with an 18-4 flurry in a 6:30 span, led by Erin Gold '11 (#25, main photo by SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com) , who canned a pair of three-pointers and added a basket for eight points. The next six minutes were even as the teams headed into the final 7:30 with the score 28-13. Wesleyan then scored 16 unanswered points into intermission for a 44-13 halftime bulge. Gold added another trey while Allie Southam '11 also had a three-pointer as Wesleyan went 7-for-13 from behind the arc during the first 20 minutes. The Cardinals’ edge never fell below 30 points in the second half and the final score represented the game’s largest margin in the first-ever meeting of the teams. Gold was the only Wesleyan player in double-digits with 15 points as all Wesleyan players saw at least 10 minutes of action and none played more than 18.
Saturday’s championship between Wesleyan and Bridgewater was just the third meeting of the squads. Last year, the Bears won at home, 73-68, while the Cardinals were victorious on a neutral court (Eastern Conn.) during the first meeting in 2004, 61-42.
This time, Bridgewater used a 13-5 run between the 12:55 mark of the opening half and the 9:26 point on the clock to turn a tight 11-10 lead into a 24-15 advantage and Wesleyan was kept at arm’s length the rest of the game. A 12-0 run to end the half gave Bridgewater a 44-24 lead at halftime.
Wesleyan cut the lead to 10 on several occasions in the second half but could never get any momentum to make a serious comeback threat. The Cardinals made it 48-38 with less than 15 minutes to play but the Bears scored six in a row to make it 54-38. At the 5:37 mark, Bridgewater found its lead back to 10 again at 63-53, but again the lead reached 16 before the game ended in favor of the Bears, 77-65.
Gold and Eileen Gaffney '12 (#30, photo insert lower right courtesy of SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com) made the all-tournament team. Gold scored 12 points in the finals and 27 for the tournament, adding six assists, two steals and four rebounds in the title game. Eileen Gaffney '12 had a game-high 25 points vs. Bridgewater on 10-of-15 shooting.
Wesleyan returned to action Thurs., Dec. 9, visiting Worcester St. There, Wesleyan turned an early six-point deficit into a six-point lead at halftime, 30-24. The Cardinals scored the first basket of the second half for the game's largest lead at 32-24, but the Lancers came back to break a 38-38 deadlock with nine minutes left and again gained a six-point lead. The Cardinals kept it close but Worcester made two of three free throws in the final 30 seconds and the Cardinals failed to connect on a pair of late three-point tries as the home team prevailed, 51-46.
Wesleyan ends action for the first semester on Sat., Dec. 11, hosting Hunter, a team Wesleyan defeated, 57-47, last year in Middletown.