GORHAM, ME - The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's women's basketball team outscored Western Connecticut State in overtime, 10-0, and defeated the Colonials, 74-64, in the semi-finals of the Little East Conference Tournament at Southern Maine's Hill Gymnasium Friday evening. With the victory, the Corsairs advance to the LEC championship game for the first time ever.
Senior forward Colleen Moriarty (Canton, MA/Canton HS) broke a 64-64 tie when she hit a driving layup at the start of the overtime period. Sophomore guard Kelsey Garrity (Somerville, MA/ Somerville HS) followed with another layup to make it 68-64, and then another layup by Moriarty made it 70-64. Garrity hit another driving layup and drew a foul to make it 72-64, and when Garrity missed her free throw, Moriarty grabbed the offensive rebound and connected on a jumper to make it 74-64. The Colonials failed to score after Moriarty's basket, and the Corsairs ran out the clock.
UMass Dartmouth overcame a 58-54 deficit towards the end of regulation time and tied the game at 59-59 on Moriarty's jumper with 3:19 remaining. Junior forward Erika Bornemann (Canton, MA/Canton HS) hit a three-pointer with 2:08 left to make it 62-59 and Garrity's jumper with 1:30 to play made it 64-59. Jackie Zilnicki hit a layup for WCSU eight seconds later to make it 64-61 and Carly Murphy's free throw with 44 seconds left made it 64-62. Sha'Quira Palmer's layup with 32 seconds left tied the game and sent it to overtime.
Moriarty led the Corsairs with 25 points, Bornemann added 17, and Garrity and freshman guard Beth Castantini (Newburyport, MA/Newburyport HS) each scored 11. Murphy had 21 and Zilnicki 17 for the Colonials.
"This was an overwhelming, emotional victory and it shows how far our program has come," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Amanda Van Voorhis. "I can't be any happier for the seniors. I promised them we would turn things around, and a 20-win season and a berth in the championship game helps solidify that. It was a great all-around performance. We just put emotion aside and fought hard for the victory. Now we have a challenge in front of us tomorrow, but we're going to ride the momentum, and we're up for it."
UMass Dartmouth improved to 20-7 with the victory, winning 20 games in a season for the first time, while Western Connecticut fell to 19-8 with the defeat.
The Corsairs advance to the championship game against host Southern Maine, a 73-62 winner over Rhode Island College in the opener. The championship game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Western Connecticut was eliminated from the tournament with the defeat.
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