BOSTON, Mass. – Freshman Tan'eja Drayton (Roxbury, Mass.) came off the bench to score 20 points to help lead the Wentworth Institute of Technology women's basketball team over Nichols College 72-71 in Commonwealth Coast Conference action Saturday afternoon inside Tansey Gymnasium.
With the win the Leopards snap a 10-game losing streak and move to 2-12 overall and picked up their first conference victoryto move to 1-6 against league opponents. The Bison drop to 3-10 this season and 1-6 in conference play.
Senior Courtney McCormick (Hanson, Mass.) set the tone early for the Leopards, knocking down an opening three-pointer before freshman Stephanie Mini (Topsfield, Mass.) gave Wentworth a 5-2 advantage. The Bison took their first lead of the game on a layup by senior Brooke Packard (Dudley, Mass.), and used a trey from sophomore Jessica Larsh (Bolton, Conn.) to hold a 13-10 advantage with 4:44 left in the first quarter.
Wentworth sophomore Emily Magasic (West Milford, N.J.) pulled the hosts within one on the next play, but Nichols ignited an 8-2 charge to end the first stanza holding a 21-14 lead, including back-to-back three pointers from Packard.
Drayton and freshman Erin Morton (Norway, Maine) combined for eight unanswered points in the second quarter, which regained the lead for Wentworth, 22-21. Nichols responded with a seven-point run of its own - with five points from junior Mekaela Fithian-Giantonio (Plainville, Conn.) – to lead 32-28 with 2:52 to go in the half. Nichols held on to its four-point margin heading into the break, as two free throws from freshman Beth Laing (Sparta, N.J.) gave the Bison a 42-38 cushion.
The Bison kept the Leopards out of reach until a minute remained in the third quarter, as sophomore Sam McGibbon (Pembroke, Mass.) nailed a three-pointer to knot the score at 52-all. Nichols knocked down two free throws to stay on top for the time being, before senior Haley Sabino (Topsfield, Mass.) scored three final points to put Wentworth back on top, 55-54.
With 8:26 left remaining in regulation, Drayton converted at the line to again tie the score 57-57, but back-to-back jumpers from Fithian-Giantonio gave the Bison a 61-57 lead. Drayton again tied the score 62-62 with a fade away jumper inside the paint, and fueled the Leopards to a 6-0 run, taking a 68-62 lead with 3:55 left to go. With four seconds left in regulation, Cerrato answered a layup from Sabino, but foul trouble from Nichols kept the score 72-71 in favor of the home team.
Drayton's game-high 20 points set a new career-best for the newcomer, as she also added four rebounds and three assists in the victory. Three other Leopards reached double-digits, led by Morton with 19 points, eight boards, and four assists. McGibbon and Sabino each knocked down 11 points apiece.
Cerrato paced the Bison offense with 20 points and was just shy of a double-double, grabbing nine rebounds. Larsh added 11 points of her own with seven rebounds, while Fithian-Giantonio led the Bison on the glass with 11 rebounds.
Both teams are back in conference action on Tuesday, January 16. The Leopards are back on the road for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at Western New England, while the Bison head to Eastern Nazarene for a 5:30 p.m. game time.
For the latest on Wentworth Athletics, follow the Leopards via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Wentworth Leopards "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.