POUGHKEEPSIE – While the Vassar College women’s basketball team built a comfortable 14-point lead with 8:06 to play in regulation, there was always the feeling visiting Wesleyan would claw itself back into the game. The Cardinals did exactly that – tying the game 57-57 with 1:30 left to play - but the Brewers used six straight free throws to secure a 63-59 victory on their home floor on Tuesday, November 20, 2012.
Two big free throws by Wesleyan’s sophomore forward Jess Cherenza knotted the contest at 57-57 with 90 seconds left to play, but the Brewers remained calm, getting six made free throws from freshman Caitlin Drakeley, junior Hannah Senftleber and sophomore Colleen O’Connell to withstand a late Wesleyan surge.
In the final 1:23, Wesleyan went cold from the field, missing two layups and a pair of 3-pointers that could have potentially brought the game into overtime. The Cardinals were hampered by a 41 percent shooting effort in the second half, which included just 3 of 10 shooting from three-point distance.
The victory, which improves Vassar’s record to an impressive 3-0, is the program’s first ever victory over Wesleyan in three meetings and the Brewers’ first win over a NESCAC opponent since the 2000 season, when Vassar defeated Connecticut College, 80-58.
Vassar will next host Hunter College on November 30th at 7:00 p.m. Wesleyan drops to 2-1 on the young season.
The first half was tight. While Wesleyan held a brief 6-2 lead, Vassar regained control of the half 12-11 at 15:10 on a 3-pointer by junior guard Cydni Matsuoka. There was no escaping a tenacious Wesleyan team, and the Brewers led only 32-28 at intermission.
Within the first two minutes of the second half, Vassar attempted to end the contest in a hurry, building a 39-30 lead on a right side jumper by Drakeley with 18:13 to play. The Brewers kept its offense in an up-tempo mode with a pair of 12 point leads during the half, and built a 14-point bulge, 55-41, after Drakeley converted a nifty inside layup with 8:06 remaining.
Wesleyan mounted a considerable comeback, going on a 16-2 run, keyed by Cherenza, sophomore guard Dreisen Heath and back-to-back three-pointers by sophomore forward Cherikira Lashley and freshman guard Jackie Brown to come within 57-55. Cherenza’s two free throws then tied the contest 57-57.
The Brewers remained aggressive, however, with Drakeley, Senftleber and O’Connell crashing the offensive end and earning trips to the line where they all converted their free throw attempts down the stretch to seal the win.
The Brewers got a near-perfect shooting night from Senftleber, who scored 22 points on 7-8 shooting from the floor and a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line. The Brewers also got an efficient 18 points from Matsuoka. O’Connell contributed to the win by pulling down a game-high eight rebounds.
Wesleyan got 12 points from Cherenza and another 11 points from Health.