NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth women's basketball team closed with a 15-4 run to rally past Little East Conference leader Rhode Island College, 58-54, this evening at the Tripp Athletic Center. Freshman Megan Ronaghan (North Attleboro, Mass.) posted a double-double with 16 points and a season-high 16 rebounds to pace the Corsairs.
UMass Dartmouth (15-9) won its fourth consecutive conference contest to improve to 8-5, while Rhode Island College (16-8) suffered its second straight setback to slip to 10-3 in the league.
Ronaghan produced her second double-double of the season to lead three Corsairs in double figures in scoring. She was 7-for-16 from the field and 2-for-2 from the foul line. Senior Erika Bornemann (Canton, Mass.) and freshman Ashley Brown (Fairhaven, Mass.) each scored 12 points. Junior Kelsey Garrity (Somerville, Mass.) registered six points and handed out four assists.
The Anchorwomen were led by sophomore Vandell Andrade (Providence, R.I.) with a game-high 23 points and 18 rebounds. She was also a major factor on the defensive end of the court with six blocks and six steals. Senior Cara Paladino (Arlington, Mass.) nearly reached double digits with nine points, while freshman Christian McDuffy (Brockton, Mass.) came off the bench to register eight.
In a nip-and-tuck affair, the largest lead of the evening was just seven points. The contest featured eight ties and the lead exchanged hands seven times. Bornemann drained a 3-pointer and followed with a layup to give UMass Dartmouth its largest lead of the evening, six points (18-12), with 12 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the first half. Rhode Island College responded with five consecutive points, capped by a traditional 3-point play from Andrade, to trim the deficit to one point. Neither team was able to take a lead larger than one possession over the final 10 minutes of the frame. McDuffy connected on a layup with 21 seconds left in the stanza to provide RIC with a 28-26 lead entering the intermission.
Andrade sank a jumper at the top of the paint to break a 37-all tie and spark a 13-6 run to hand the Anchorwomen their largest lead of the contest. She scored eight of RIC's next 10 points, while sophomore Michelle Lagrotteria (Niantic, Conn.) capped the surge with a lay-up to put the visitors up 50-43.
Undeterred, the Corsairs countered with a 7-0 run of their own to forge 50-all tie with just under six minutes remaining on the clock. Garrity kickstarted the run with a jumper in the lane and sophomore Beth Castantini (Newburyport, Mass.) sank a pair from the foul line. Following a missed Rhode Island College field goal, Bornemann drilled a 3-pointer to cap the surge.
Lagrotteria gave the visitors their final advantage of the evening with a make from the foul line, but Castantini put UMass Dartmouth ahead for good with a tip-in. Garrity buried a jumper in the paint to stretch UMD's lead to three points (54-51), but Andrade hit a layup and Paladino made the back-end of her two attempts from the foul line to knot the contest at 54-all. Bornemann broke the deadlock with a jumper in the paint with 28 ticks left on the clock, and the Corsairs denied two Anchorwomen chances to regain possession. Ronaghan closed out the scoring with a pair from the charity stripe to seal the pivotal conference contest.
The hosts shot 33.3 percent (23-for-69) from the floor and 87.5 percent (7-for-8) from the foul line. Rhode Island College connected on 38.2 percent (21-for-55) and 73.3 percent (11-for-15) from the charity stripe. The Corsairs forced 21 turnovers, while committing just 15. The visitors had a slight edge on the glass(42-41).
UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, when the Corsairs travel to Keene State College (12-12, 4-9 LEC) for the Little East regular-season finale.