MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Trailing by 10 with 7:27 remaining, the Wesleyan Women’s basketball team responded with a 23-5 run to land an 84-76 come-from-behind win over Worcester State from Silloway Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals (3-1) stretched their winning streak to three while Wesleyan captured the Courtyard by Marriott Classic title, securing a title in the team’s home tournament for the fifth season running. The Lancers drop to 2-3 on the season.
The game-deciding run began with the Cardinal defense forcing turnovers as Brooke Guiffre ’23 forced a turnover which led to an uncontested layup on the other end. On the next possession, another Lancer turnover led the points as Alana Jones ’24 scored on the fastbreak to cut what was a 10-point deficit down to a two-score game.
Two more Worcester State possessions followed, both of which resulted in turnovers as the Cardinal defense forced the Lancers into miscues on four straight trips down the floor at the beginning of the 23-5 run. As the defense continued to hold, the offense soon followed Maggie Lee ’23 converted in traffic before an Olivia Quinn ’26 triple made it a one-point game with 4:26 remaining.
Wesleyan retook the lead on their next possession, with Tori DaCosta ’25 hitting from down low before Lee swished in a triple as the Cardinals suddenly led 77-33 with 3:03 left. The scoring barrage continued with DaCosta swishing two free throws before Lee made it 81-73 with a floater as Jones grabbed an Offensive rebound and spotted the senior caption open on the left block.
The Lancers’ Erin Gallella hit a three to make it 81-76 Cardinals with 1:22 left but a crucial block from Guiffre on an Emma Found layup attempt with 34 seconds left iced the game away, capping a dramatic comeback win for the Cardinals.
From the 4:46 mark until a little more than a minute remained, Wesleyan scored on six straight possessions while holding the Lancers scoreless on their six trips down the floor with the ball. The Cardinals shot 60 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter while Worcester State was just 4-for-17 (23.5 percent) and 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from three in the frame.
Lee was crowned Tournament MVP following her career game as the senior netted a career-high 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting (2-3 3FG, 7-9 FT) while she added five rebounds, four assists, and three steals in what was Lee’s first career 20-point game. Guiffree was named to the All-Tournament Team as she posted 17 points (6-13 FG) with four rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and five steals in 35 minutes.
The first half saw the two sides get off to a cracking start, with the scoreboard reading 28-20 in favor of Wesleyan after one. The Cardinals hit on 12 of their 15 shot attempts in the frame, as the 80 percent performance spotted Wesleyan with the eight-point lead. Lena Benway ’25 proved a huge spark off the bench, hitting on all six of her shots in the first quarter alone, scoring 13 of the Cardinals’ 28 points in the first.
Wesleyan cooled down in the second quarter, hitting on just 23.5 percent of their shot attempts but still managing to hold off the Lancers who scored just 17 themselves as the Cardinals took a 42-37 lead into halftime.
The game then completely flipped on its head as Worcester State blitzed the Cardinals with a 28-point third quarter, outscoring the Cardinals by 12 in the frame and taking a 65-58 lead into the fourth. The Lancers then eventually stretched their advantage to as many as 10 before the late run won the game for the Cardinals.
On the strength of an Incredible first quarter, Benway finished with a career-high 15 points (7-12 FG). Among the other contributors included nine points and nine rebounds for DaCosta off the bench. Quinn posted eight points and eight rebounds herself while Abby Gray ’24 gave another terrific all-around effort with seven points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Coming into this weekend with a previous career-high of four assists, Gray has now tallied seven assists in back-to-back games.
Worcester State was led by Erin Gallella who tallied 21 points with five rebounds and four assists. Nyah Thomas finished with 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists as she and Gallella both played all 40 minutes.
SWesleyan has a quick turnaround as the Cardinals welcome in Clark University on Tuesday for a 7:00 PM tip from Silloway Gymnasium. This marks the first meeting between the two teams since January 11, 2003.