Basketball's Comeback Falls Short in 50-48 Loss to Wellesley

Basketball's Comeback Falls Short in 50-48 Loss to Wellesley

BOSTON, Mass. – Sophomore guard Cassandra Stapelfeld (Brookline, N.H.) matched her season high with a game-best 23 points to lead the Simmons University women's basketball team in a 50-48 loss to visiting Wellesley College tonight at Moore Gymnasium in Boston, Mass. The Sharks fall to 0-4 on the season, while the Blue remain unblemished at 3-0.

Wellesley took advantage of 27 Simmons turnovers, outscoring the home team, 22-10, in points off miscues. The Sharks defensive effort improved dramatically in the second half, holding the Blue to just 29.6% (8-27) in the second half after the visitors shot 50% (12-24) in the opening stanza. 

Stapelfeld's point total is the highest for a Simmons sophomore since Emily Thomas netted 24 at Anna Maria College on February 8, 2011. She was 9-17 from the floor, including 3-6 from three-point range and added three rebounds and four steals, while senior forward Lauren Brandau (Madison, Conn.) ripped down a career-high 12 rebounds to go with five points, two steals, a block and an assist. Junior forward Kirra Courchesne (Wilmington, Vt.) came off the bench to contribute six points, five rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal in 28 minutes of action. 

Junior Emily Kopp (King Ferry, N.Y.) scored 13 points to lead the Blue, finishing 5-for-9 from the field. Classmate Caitlin Aguirre (El Paso, Texas) added 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Senior Zojajha Ayub (Belle Mead, N.J.) scored eight points and had a team-high five rebounds off the bench. Sophomore Alyssa Cho (Hillsborough, Calif.) matched Ayub with five boards for the Blue. First year Daisy Ella Johnson (Westport, Mass.) finished with four of Wellesley's 15 steals. 

Leading 13-12 following a back-and-fourth first quarter, the Blue used a 15-4 second quarter run to take a 12-point lead, 28-16, when Kopp hit a jumper with just under a minute left until the half. However, a put-back layup at the buzzer from Simmons sophomore Denae Douglas (Towson, Md.) sent the teams into the half with the score 28-18. The Blue scored 13 points off of 14 first-half turnovers.

Following the break, Simmons used an 11-0 third quarter run to cut a 12-point deficit all the way to one, at 31-30, at 5:04. Kopp got the Blue back on the board with a pair of free throws at 2:05, but sophomore guard Suzie Cosme (Framingham, Mass.) cut the lead back to one with two from the stripe at 1:36. A fast-break layup from Aguirre with seven seconds left in the third quarter made the score 35-32, as the teams moved into the fourth with the Blue holding on to a three-point advantage.  

A Valentina Morakis (Long Island, N.Y.) layup to start the fourth pushed the Wellesley advantage to 37-32, but five straight Simmons points tied the contest for the first time since the 2:16 mark of the second, as Stapelfeld hit a triple and Courchesne dropped in a layup on back-to-back possessions to make the score 37-37. 

The Blue regained the lead when Jada Wiltz (Lafayette, La.) hit the second of two free throws at 5:48. Ayub then knocked down a jumper at 5:10 to give the Blue a 40-37 lead. Courchesne cut into the lead to one, at 40-39, with a layup at 4:42, but the Sharks were unable to rally past the Blue in the closing minutes. Wellesley countered with a 9-5 run, capped by a pair of big buckets from Aguirre, to take a 49-43 lead with 40 seconds remaining. Simmons added a pair of late baskets but ran out of time as the Blue held on for the 50-48 victory. 

Wellesley finished the game shooting 39.2 percent (20-for-51) from the floor, while the Sharks countered at 36.5 percent (19-for-52). 

Simmons will travel to Brooklyn, N.Y. to take on State University of New York College at Old Westbury in the opening round of the Dr. Betty Shabazz Tournament on Saturday, November 24 at 3:00 PM, while Wellesley returns home to host Worcester State University at 1:00 PM on Sunday, November 25.