Gators fall short against Wheelock

CHESTNUT HILL, MA – A five-point Pine Manor lead in the final minutes of the first half dwindled to one by halftime, and the visiting Wildcats converted 16-18 second half free throws to hold on for a 59-52 win Thursday night.

            A pair of Wildcats field goals forced an early timeout from Gators coach Alex Gould, but for the second straight game, a Tia Nelson (right, Rockport, MA/Rockport) three-pointer gave Pine Manor an early lead, this one at 7-6 with 13:40 left in the first. A pair of Yiafia Dowridge free throws gave the Gators a five-point lead, which Gould’s team held until two Elise Ordile (Waltham, MA/Waltham) freebies gave Wheelock the lead, 20-19, at the 7:30 mark.

            In her second game as a Gator, freshman forward Lacree Robinson (South Boston MA, South Boston) went baseline for a layup to retake the lead on the next possession, and the Gators held the lead for the final 7:00 of the half. Pine Manor’s lead ballooned to five on two more occasions, first on a Paulette Wright (Baltimore, MD/Seton Keough) layup and for a final time on another Nelson trifecta with 90 seconds left.

            Free throws were the theme of the night for Wheelock, and another pair from Ordile at the stripe, followed by a Keneisha Milton layup (Randolph, MA/Wayland) with under 40 seconds in the half sent the Gators to the locker room clinging to a 30-29 halftime lead. Milton led all scorers with 10 before break, while Wright and Ordile followed with nine each.

            Wheelock instantly took command to start the second, but Nelson again answered. An Ordile layup and a Kayla Drescher (Wallingford, CT/Sheehan) jumper gave Brooke Freeburg’s club a 33-30 lead in the opening minute. Then, with the shot clock expiring, Nelson hit on her third three-pointer, this from 25 feet, to tie the game at the 18:00 mark.

            The next 8:00 featured four ties and four lead changes, with a Yiafia Dowridge (White Plains, NY/Woodlands) free throw putting the Gators back on top, 43-42, with 9:11 remaining. On the next possession, a Joy Holliday (Milford, MA/Milford) jumper gave Wheelock back the lead, which increased to three on a pair of Milton free throws.

            Gina Simpson-Hobbs’ (Dorchester, MA/English) three-pointer just outside the 8:00 mark tied the game at 46. The eighth tie of the contest was the last, though, as the Wildcats mixed a Holiday three-pointer in with a 10-12 effort from the charity stripe over the final 7:27, tucking away the team’s first win of the season.

            A Wright jumper at the 2:16 mark made it a 56-53 game, but Holliday immediately responded with her third three of the game. Pine Manor shot 0-4 over the final 1:50 to drop to 0-10.

            Holliday and Wright tied for game-high honors with 15 points. Ordile totaled a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and senior forward Kerry Casey added nine points and a game-best 13 boards for Wheelock, which shot 19-22 (86.4 percent) from the stripe, outrebounding Pine Manor 43-39.

            Wright added seven rebounds, while Nelson finished with 11 points and six boards. Dowridge added 11 points and five rebounds, as Pine Manor fell to 0-10.

            The Gators wrap up a three-game homestand Monday night, returning to GNAC play against Simmons at 7 p.m.  

 
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