En route to a fast 5-1 start, the Cardinals have won with a tried and true formula: impenetrable defense, with just enough scoring to get by. Against the woefully outmatched opponents Wesleyan faced in its first two home games, that game plan translated to an average margin of victory of 20.0 points. Even though the Cardinals shoot just .413 from the field, they can sustain that paltry figure because their opponents only have a .319 field goal percentage against Wes. So what happens when Wesleyan’s offense falls off even further? Then the Cardinals must lock down even more on the defensive end and try to win with the fewest points necessary.
That’s exactly what Wesleyan did against Western New England University (WNE). After consecutive convincing victories in the friendly confines of Silloway Gym, the women’s basketball team welcomed WNE to town for a third straight home game on Tuesday, Dec. 4. What ensued was a sloppy but successful performance by the Cardinals, who shot below their already meager average, but made up for it by putting up a brick wall on defense. After 40 unseemly minutes, Wes churned out a 55-42 win that was inefficient and effective at the same time.
If any WNE fans made the trek down to Middletown for the game, they witnessed an unwatchable first half of play from their team. Even as WNE held Wesleyan to just 13-33 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, the Cardinals just would not let the visitors get anything going on the offensive end. WNE attempted 22 shots in the first half, and it hit only four of them. That’s a .182 shooting percentage, and that’s just atrocious. Even with their subpar performance from the field, the Redbirds slowly but surely turned the first half into a blow out. Though they only led 12-8 after nine minutes, the Cardinals tacked on points when they could, and WNE could not respond. Wesleyan put together a 17-4 run to end the half, going into the break with a comfortable 29-12 lead.
WNE actually exploited a couple of holes in Wesleyan’s game in the second half. Firstly, the two teams shot nearly identically from the field; Wesleyan hit 10 of its 25 shots, while WNE sunk the same number on 26 attempts. In tandem with that efficiency boost, WNE got to the line significantly more in the last 20 minutes. WNE took four free throws to Wes’ two in the first half, with each team converting on half of its attempts. In the second, WNE went 8-13 from the charity stripe, while the Cardinals went 5-6. Though Wesleyan made more of its opportunities than its opponent, WNE simply forced its way into more chances for easy points. That was enough for WNE to win the second half 30-26, but was not nearly enough to undo the damage Wesleyan dealt in the opening frame. The Cardinals did not play a perfect game by any means, but they still managed to beat WNE by 13, and so they will live with a few mistakes.
Riding a three-game win streak, women’s basketball traveled to Worcester State University on Thursday, Dec. 6, after press time. Wesleyan will next take the court on Saturday, Dec. 8 at Silloway Gym to take on Williams, kicking off NESCAC and Little Three play for the year.