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Women's Basketball Savors Strong Victory

Jiri Schindler--The Tech
Vicky Best '99 scores in MIT's 82-62 victory over Wheaton College in the first round of the NEW 8 Conference Tournament on Tuesday evening in Rockwell Cage.

By Erik S. Balsley
sports editor

The women's basketball defeated Wheaton College 8262 Tuesday night to advance to the next round of the New England Women's 8 Conference playoffs.

The Engineers were fourth entering the playoffs, while Wheaton was ranked fifth. The Engineers thought they would be playing a close tough game, as they had defeated Wheaton by only three points in their earlier season matchup. That victory was the Engineers' first against Wheaton in 10 years.

Although Wheaton sank two early 3-pointers to bring the score to 84 with 16:57 left in the half, the Engineers began to drive at Wheaton and to build the large lead they enjoyed for most of the game.

The team played an extremely aggressive offensive game and played smart defense to overwhelm what appeared to be a shocked Wheaton. They kept the pressure on Wheaton's backcourt so that by halftime the team was enjoying a 16 point margin at 3822.

Determined to not let their lead slip away, the Engineers continued to play strongly throughout the second half. Although Wheaton managed to score eight within the first four minutes of the half, Sarah Davis '97 sank two from the line and made two baskets to bring the score to 4430 with 15:26 left in the half. Shortly thereafter Vicki Best '99 grabbed a rebound and ran with the ball down a clear court and sank it to bring the score to 4630.

Excellent rebounding was a key factor in the team's success. While Wheaton made 44 rebounds, the Engineers made 65. The team's number of defensive rebounds was the same as Wheaton's total rebounds.

Heather Lukacs '00 had another excellent rebounding game; she had 12 in the team's game against Mount Holyoke College to make 11. Amy MacKay '97 also took advantage of Wheaton's sloppy playing to make 13, while Vicky Canto-Ponce '00 had 12.

The Engineers continued to hammer away at Wheaton throughout the second half. With 7:26 in play, Best sank MIT's only 3-pointer of the game to bring the score to 6942. It was an excellent game for Best, who played superb offense to score 19 points throughout the game.

Wheaton quickly sank a basket, but Canto-Ponce maintained the 27 point Engineer lead, the game's largest, by sinking a basket with 6:59 left to bring the score to 7144.

Despite the wide margin, both teams were playing a very rough game. As an indicator, both teams broke their foul limits in both halfs. MIT had 23 personal fouls, while Wheaton had 25. In addition, Davis left 10 points behind her when she fouled out with 5:48 left in the game.

In the final minutes of play, Wheaton began to take any shots in an attempt to even the score. Although another 3-pointer was scored by Wheaton with 2:23 left, the team could not make up what was by then a 20 point deficit.

In the end, the Engineers defeated Wheaton, which was a close game in regular season, 8262. The team now faces Clark University, and the nation's top ranked Division III player, at Mount Holyoke College Friday in round two of the NEW8 playoffs.