Using a strong second-half surge, Wesleyan pulled away from visiting Bates to secure a 78-67 conference win as each team concluded a NESCAC weekend Sat., Jan. 21. Wesleyan returned to action in a non-conference tilt Wed., Jan. 25 at Emmanuel, winning 71-59 behind a career-high 27 points by Eileen Gaffney '12 (#30, main photo).
With Bates holding a 48-41 edge with 14:56 remaining, Wesleyan went on an 11-3 run to grab a 52-51 lead with 9:18 to go. Cherkira Lashlay '15 hit a pair of baskets to trigger the Cardinal run. The teams played nip-and-tuck for the next two minutes as the squads were tied, 56-56, at the 7:12 mark. But the bucket from Gaffney that evened the count at 56 started a game-clinching 11-0 burst that spotted the homestanders a 65-56 margin with 4:32 left. Five of the 11 points came from Amber Wessells '14 (#22, photo insert upper left). The Bobcats got no closer than six in the closing minutes as the Cardinals pulled ahead by as many 14, 75-61, with :55 on the clock.
Though Wesleyan led early on, 6-1, Bates controlled the first half, leading by as many as nine, 28-19, with 6:47 to go. The lead belonged to the Bobcats for the final 14:25 of the period but Wesleyan made a late run to narrow the gap to a lone point at halftime, 38-37. A 10-2 start to the second period gave the visitors their largest lead of the second half, 48-41.
Gaffney and Sam LaCroce '12 (#20, photo insert lower left) paced Wesleyan in scoring with 16 points apiece while Wessells added 11 and Jenna Klaes '14 chipped in with 10. Rebounding honors went to Emily Lippe '12 with 10. Wessells also had five of the Cardinals' 17 steals on the day as Wesleyan forced 23 Bobcat turnovers while committing 14 of their own.
Wesleyan defeated Bates for just the third time in the last 10 meetings. Bates holds a 16-12 lead in the overall series.
At Emmanuel, the Cardinals again used a second-half thrust to pull away for a comfortable win, Wesleyan's fourth in 10 all-time meetings. Trailing 41-40 with 13:34 to play, Wesleyan went on a 12-3 run that gave the visitors a 52-44 advantage with 8:23 to go. Gaffney has six of the 10 points while Klaes had four. LaCroce gave the Cards the lead for good with a basket to start the flurry on her way to a 20-point evening. Klaes finished with 10. Wesleyan let the Saints get no closer than six down the stretch, evetualy pulling out to as much as a 14-point bulge (64-50, 2:03 left). Wesleyan hit a brisk 21 of 24 free throws with Gaffney going a perfect 11-for-11 from the stripe. Wesleyan helped force the Saints into making 37 turnovers with 22 steals, seven of them by Lippe. Emmanuel did generate a substantial 48-29 rebounding margin, allowing the host to stay close despite the miscues.
Wesleyan has a critical home NESCAC matchup with a talented Conn. College squad Sat., Jan. 28 in its next start. The rejuvenated Camels, who have not posted a winning record this century, bring a 14-3 overall mark and a 4-2 conference record to Middletown.