NEW LONDON, Conn. – Fifth-seeded Wheelock College held off fourth-seeded Mitchell College in the second half of a 69-56 final on Tuesday night in the first round of the 2017 New England Collegiate Conference Women's Basketball Championship at the Yarnall Athletic Center.
Wheelock (15-11 overall) earned its first-ever NECC postseason win and improved to 1-3 all-time in the tournament. The Wildcats advance to the semifinals and will play at top-seeded Regis College on Thursday, February 23 at 7 p.m.
Katie Walsh posted game highs of 26 points and 23 rebounds to lead Wheelock. Michelle Woods added 15 points and eight boards while Jaime Grzych contributed 15 points, six assists and four steals.
Jessica Shepherd paced Mitchell with 12 points, five assists and three steals. Allegra Jones had nine points off the bench to go with three assists.
Walsh carried Wheelock in the opening quarter, netting nine of her team's first 11 points and igniting an 8-0 run that gave the Wildcats the lead. She finished with 11 in the period as Wheelock led 16-12 after one.
The Mariners trailed by five in the second quarter before going on a 7-0 run to steal the lead. Jessica Lohneiss had five points during the stretch, including a three-pointer that put Mitchell on top 19-17 with 5:14 to go before the half.
After a lay-up by Walsh tied the game, Woods took over the scoring duties and poured in Wheelock's final seven points of the half. Her three-point play with four seconds remaining put the Wildcats up 26-21 at the break.
The duo of Walsh and Woods accounted for 23 of Wheelock's 26 points in the first half. Walsh had a double-double of 13 points and 11 boards by intermission to lead all players. Mitchell's offense was more balanced as both Lohneiss and Camille Staggers had five points.
Wheelock pushed its lead to double digits in the first six minutes of the second half. The Wildcats took their biggest lead at 45-30 following a three by Grzych with just under two minutes to go in the third quarter. However, Mitchell cut into the deficit with a barrage of threes to end the period. Shepherd connected twice and dished to Lohneiss for the third, trimming the margin to 45-39 heading into the fourth.
The Mariners never got closer than four in the final stanza as Wheelock had an answer at every turn. Grzych hit a big three with 3:14 to play to give the Wildcats some breathing room at 56-49. After a three by Alexandra Kolb got the Mariners back to within four, Sarah Tobin banked in a jumper to pad the lead.
Wheelock scored the final nine points of the contest—all at the free throw line—to seal the win. The five starters logged heavy minutes and accounted for all 69 points. The Wildcats shot only 34 percent from the floor but went 22-for-27 as a team at the free throw line.
The Mariners owned a 25-0 advantage in bench scoring but got to the foul line only six times. Tiana Edwards grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to pace Mitchell on the glass.
Mitchell ends the season with a record of 12-14.
WBB Eliminated by Wheelock in NECC First Round
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