WEST HARTFORD, Conn.— The Mitchell College women's basketball team extended its winning streak to four games with a 55-33 victory at the University of Saint Joseph on Monday night in non-conference action at the O'Connell Center.
The Blue Jays (2-10, 0-1 GNAC) have lost seven straight games, while the Mariners (5-3, 4-0 NECC) have won four in a row, and five of their last six.
Amina Wiley dominated inside from the opening tip and finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Dejia Santana just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine boards. Le'Sandra Turner, who was named New England Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Week earlier in the day, chipped in with a dozen points of her own.
Cheyenne-Mone Smith and Anna Chevarella carried USJ with nine points each.
The teams combined to shoot 2-for-23 from three, but the game was really decided in the paint. The Mariners doubled up the Blue Jays in points in the paint (38-16) and outrebounded them by a 53-36 margin.
Early on, it was the work on the offensive glass for Mitchell that made all the difference. The Mariners had six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone, good for eight second-chance points. Shaniyah Williams drew a charge on a fastbreak opportunity, igniting the USJ bench early, but it was not enough to hang onto the lead. The Mariners were just too aggressive, attacking the gaps in the Blue Jays' 3-2 zone. Kelsey Hernandez was 4-for-4 from the foul line, and the Mariners led 10-6 at the end of the first quarter.
After a timeout by Blue Jay Head Coach Wendy Davis, Saint Joe's went back to work, down 16-8, midway through the second quarter. They got several open looks from Chevarella and Raelynn Voislow but could not convert.
Meanwhile, Wiley and Santana continued to attack the glass. Both finished with six points and six rebounds in the first half, scoring on several second chances. The Mariners extended the gap to nine at the half, 21-12. Both teams shot under 30 percent for the half, but Mitchell was plus 10 on the boards. Smith scored six points of her own in the first half on 3-of-4 shooting for Saint Joe's.
The Blue Jays came out of the locker room determined to cut into the lead. They could not get any closer, as the size and strength of the Mariners wore them down. Wiley dominated inside—when she wasn't scoring or rebounding, she was either clogging the lane defensively, or keeping the back line of the 3-2 zone intact. Mitchell forced many of its turnovers with tenacious on-ball pressure, especially when a ballhandler picked up the ball, or when anticipating where passers would throw the ball next. Hernandez had several steals that way.
The Mariners built a 20-point lead after three quarters, 39-19, and held on for the win.
Mitchell will next host Wentworth (MA) on Saturday, December 15 at 2:30 p.m.