Last week, Emerson Gymnasium welcomed an entertaining NEWMAC battle between the Lyons and the visiting Engineers of WPI. Wheaton managed to hold on to a 34-32 win even as WPI went 13-4 during the last half.
The win was highlighted by a halftime celebration of Wheaton’s female senior athletes, which included appearances by President Ronald Crutcher and Provost Linda Eisenmann, who spoke of the importance of what these young women bring to the table.
“We celebrate our women athletics and reaffirm the role of sports in the development of scholarship, initiative, leadership and confidence,” Dr. Eisenmann said to the crowd. After being called forward, each senior accepted a rose from President Crutcher.
In all, 42 athletes were honored, including two seniors from WPI’s basketball squad. It all came as a part of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which coincided with Play 4Kay Cancer Awareness Night, named after legendary North Carolina State University basketball coach Kay Yow, who passed away in 2009 after battling breast cancer for over two decades.
The emotional night was capped by Wheaton’s victory, which also gave them their first season sweep of WPI since the 2007-08 season, when the Lyons went on to earn a bid in the NCAA Tournament. With just a handful of games remaining and a losing record overall, these Lyons might not make it that far but they managed to impress Head Coach Melissa Hodgdon. After the game she spoke of her team’s ability to maintain a half-court game and slow down WPI’s rally.
“Big game for the guards, and I was a guard so I always feel like I’m ripping the guards apart,” she said. “The way that especially Melissa McLaughlin ’14, Kenzie Kuhn ’15, Rebecca Arnone ’16 came out and executed that game plan was outstanding.”
The Lyons were led by Abby Brickley ‘15 on the offensive end, who had a game-high 12 points. Brickley was the only player on either side who reached double figures in points, especially impressive considering how low-scoring the game was. In fact, the 34 points scored by Wheaton amounted to their lowest score of any game this season. Coach Hodgen credited the Lyons’ ability to limit WPI to just five second-chance points.
“There were a couple times that we over-helped and got caught but at least got a hand up to contest and then did a good job of shutting them down on the offensive rebounds” she explained.
The Lyons have two home games remaining before the NEWMAC Tournament begins. The first is Sat. Feb. 9 when Clark visits, and the second Sat. Feb. 16 on Senior Day against Mount Holyoke, a team who narrowly edged out Wheaton 51-49 in a thriller earlier this winter.