Western New England Comes Through Late Again to Earn 75-72 Win at Emerson

Senior guard Dorothy O'Neill scored a season-high 20 points in Western New England's 75-72 victory at Emerson on Saturday (photo by Chris Marion).
Senior guard Dorothy O'Neill scored a season-high 20 points in Western New England's 75-72 victory at Emerson on Saturday (photo by Chris Marion).

O'Neill breaks out for season-high 20 points as Golden Bears secure fourth straight win

BOSTON, Mass. (December 9, 2017) –
For the fourth straight game, the Western New England University women's basketball team made clutch plays down the stretch to earn a 75-72 victory over Emerson College on Saturday afternoon in non-conference action at Brown & Plofker Gym. 

The Golden Bears, who trailed 41-38 at halftime, faced a 69-66 deficit with less than four minutes remaining in the contest, but they came through with key shots, defensive stops and just enough free throws late to secure their fourth consecutive victory.

Top Performers
• Senior guard Dorothy O'Neill (Staten Island, N.Y.) broke out for a game and season-high 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc while sinking 1-of-2 free throws. O'Neill also recorded six assists, two steals and one rebound.
• Sophomore forward Courtney Carlson (Woodbury, Conn.) was the only other Golden Bear in double figures with ten points, while junior guard Meghan Gilhool (Montrose, Pa.) totaled eight points, six rebounds and three assists.
• Sophomore Hannah Zirkel (Westbury, N.Y.) and junior Caroline Niland (Waltham, Mass.) led the Western New England bench with nine and eight points, respectively, as the duo went a combined 5-of-6 from three-point distance.

• Sophomores Kate Foultz (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and Natalie Clydesdale (Pittsburgh, Pa.) paced the Lions, as the two players accounted for almost 50 percent of Emerson's points. Clydesdale shot 7-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe on her way to 17 points, while also tallying seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Foultz netted a team-best 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three-point range to go with a 2-for-2 mark at the free throw line.

Game Review
• Western New England got off to a strong start, as O'Neill scored the team's first five points and sophomore Meghan Orbann (East Hampton, Conn.) canned a pair of free throws to give the Golden Bears a 7-2 lead two minutes into the contest. Emerson pulled back ahead (11-10) on a jumper by Foultz midway through the first quarter, and the Lions led by the same margin (21-20) when freshman Ashley Toner (Barnegat, N.J.) knocked down a jumper with a minute left in the period. Western New England regained the lead heading into the second quarter as freshman forward Emily Scurka (Billerica, Mass.) drew a foul and made both free throws with one second on the clock.
• The Golden Bears maintained their slim lead in the early part of the second quarter with the help of four points from sophomore Alyssa Stefanelli (Chicopee, Mass.) and three from Zirkel. Western New England held its largest advantage of the afternoon (34-27) following an Orbann layup with just under five minutes left in the half, but the Lions answered with four straight points as part of a 14-4 run overall that saw the home team claim a 41-38 edge at the break.
• Western New England opened the second half with an 8-0 run to regain a 46-41 lead. Emerson slowly chipped away at its deficit, before pulling ahead (52-51) on a three-pointer by junior Natalie Busch (Weybridge, England) at the 3:13 mark. Zirkel answered with a three of her own later in the quarter, and the Golden Bears held a 56-55 lead heading into the fourth.
• The lead changed hands four times early in the fourth, before Western New England established a four-point cushion (66-62) on a three-pointer by Gilhool at the 5:12 mark. The Lions answered with a 9-0 run to claim a 69-66 lead with 3:48 to play, but O'Neill evened the score with a clutch three 26 seconds later and Orbann made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Golden Bears the lead for good with 2:52 on the clock.
• Clinging to a two-point lead with 22 seconds left, sophomore Emily Farrell (New Fairfield, Conn.) sank a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game (74-70).  After Foultz brought the Lions back to within two (74-72) with two free throws four seconds later, O'Neill made 1-of-2 at the charity stripe and the Golden Bears got a couple of defensive stops on Emerson's final two possessions to seal the win.

Notes
• Western New England scored a season-high 75 points while posting season-best shooting clips both from the field (55.1%, 27-of-49) and from three-point range (55.6%, 11-of-16). The Golden Bears also recorded a season-high 17 assists on their 27 made field goals.   
• O'Neill, who entered Saturday's action with 942 career points, is now just 38 shy of 1,000 for her career.
• The game featured 17 lead changes and three ties. 

Up Next
Western New England (6-2) will be off for the next two and a half weeks, before taking on Messiah (Dec. 28) and Framingham State (Dec. 29) at the Land of Magic Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. Emerson has one more game remaining on its 2017 schedule, as the Lions travel to cross town rival Suffolk on Tuesday evening.