Host Wesleyan extended a 25-19 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half into a 37-21 halftime edge over Johnson & Wales with a decisive 12-2 run and never let the lead fall below double-digits in the second half on its way to a 65-48 first-round victory in the Courtyard by Marriott tournament Fri., Nov. 30. In the second game of the night, St. Joseph's (Long Island) shook off a pesky Mitchell squad in the final eight minutes of the game for a 74-66 win and a spot in the championship game Saturday vs. Wesleyan. Mitchell and Johnson & Wales meet in the consolation game.
Wesleyan got the job done again in the title game, disposing of St. Joseph's, 66-43. Amber Wessells '13 (#22, photo by SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com) was named tournament MVP for her efforts over the two days.
The Cardinals got their 12-2 burst vs. JWU started with a three-pointer by Jackie Browne '16, followed by a traditional three-point play from Kendra Harris '13. After a basket by KellyAnn Rooney '14 made it 33-20, Cherkira Lashley '15 tossed in a pair of buckets to cap the run for the 37-21 advantage. The lead grew as large as 20 (45-25) early in the second half before the Wildcats cut the difference to 10, 51-41, with seven minutes remaining. But the Cardinals scored on four of their next five possessions while JWU managed just a free throw as the lead pushed back to 17, 59-42.
Wesleyan got 14 points fromWessells, who also had four assists and three steals, and 10 points each from Rooney and Harris. Jess Cherenza '15 added nine points and a game-high nine rebounds to the Wesleyan cause in the first-ever meeting with JWU.
Against St. Joseph's, Wesleyan held a 20-13 lead midway through the first half, but turned it into a 35-18 halftime advantage. By the 10:00 mark of the second half, Wesleyan held its largest lead at 33 points with a 54-21 bulge before the Golden Eagles outscored the Cardinals by 10 in the closing quarter of the contest to make the final margin 23 in the second-ever meeting of the teams. Wesleyan also captured the first game between the teams, played in 2008, by a nearly identical 25-point margin, 71-46.
Miller Hartsoe '15, named to the all-tournament team, had a team-leading double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Wesleyan. Rooney chipped in with 12 points and Dreisen Heath '15 added 10 points for the Cardinals. Kaylie Williams '16 was strong on the boards with nine caroms.
Wesleyan has a three-game week ahead, beginning with a home game vs. Western New England Tues., Dec. 4. In a game characterized by three distinct scoring spurts, Wesleyan got the final one over the last 5:30 of the game to come away with a 55-42 victory over the Golden Bears. Wesleyan improved to 5-1 on the year and stands 3-0 all-time vs. WNE. Wesleyan hits the court again Thurs., Dec. 6 with a non-conference matchup at Worcester St. in a game slated for a webcast.
With Wesleyan clinging to a 41-39 lead heading into the final six minutes of play, WNE had a chance for its first lead of the game when a three-pointer rimmed out and Williams grabbed the rebound. Wesleyan then scored the next eight points to move ahead, 49-39, and added four of the next five points for a commanding 53-40 advantage with 2:18 to play. Rooney hit a key trey for Wesleyan to ignite the decisive rally.
Wesleyan held a 10-8 lead with 11:45 remaining in the opening half and pulled away for a 29-12 halftime lead as WNE was held to 18.2 percent shooting in the period with four baskets on 22 attempts. Adding the first two buckets of the second period, the Cardinals seemed comfortably ahead, 33-12, with 17:10 to go. But over the next 11 minutes, WNE forced five Wesleyan turnovers and held its host to 4-for-14 shooting while connecting on 10-of-17 from the field for a 27-8 run that narrowed the difference to two points.
Wessells had a team-leading 12 points, five rebounds, six assists and six steals. Both Kendra Harris '13 and Hartsoe scored in double-digits with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Heath paced Wesleyan with seven caroms.