WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Eastern Connecticut State University produced a strong second half performance to deliver the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth women's basketball team its first Little East Conference loss of the season, 64-41, on Tuesday evening at the Geissler Gymnasium. The Warrior win brings both teams tied atop the conference leaderboard (3-1), with Eastern Connecticut holding the tiebreaker over the Corsairs.
With 13 minutes and 40 seconds displayed on the game clock and the score deadlocked at 33-all, the Warriors unleashed a 34-8 run to close out the contest. In the final half, Eastern Connecticut shot a blistering 51.9 percent from the field, while holding UMass Dartmouth to 18.5 percent, and held an advantage in total rebounds (24-10) and assists (9-1).
Senior Kristina Forsman led all scorers with 22 points, 15 of which were scored in the second half, and grabbed four rebounds for the Warriors. Junior Jill Ritrosky registered a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, while senior Shannon McCourt poured in 12 points and reeled in seven caroms. Guard Taylor McBride and Forsman each generated four steals on the defensive end for the home team.
For UMass Dartmouth, sophomore Megan Ronaghan (North Attleboro, Mass.) led the visiting offensive attack with 15 points. Senior Kelsey Garrity (Somerville, Mass.) recorded seven points and grabbed a team-high nine boards, while sophomore Bri Hochwarter (Attleboro, Mass.) added seven points and four rebounds off the bench for the Corsairs.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the opening 20 minutes of action. Eastern Connecticut utilized a 9-0 run to build the largest advantage of the stanza at 21-12 with less than five minutes remaining on the clock. McCourt scored four consecutive points during the surge, while McBride capped the run with a layup to force a UMass Dartmouth timeout.
The Corsairs closed strong down the stretch, using a 13-2 run over the final four minutes to forge a 25-all tie at the halftime break. Ronaghan ignited the run with a lay-up, while junior Beth Castantini (Newburyport, Mass.) followed suit with a short-range jumper in the paint. Despite a Warrior basket, Hochwarter responded with a three-pointer and senior Erin Fahey (Salem, Mass.) converted a lay-up to trim the deficit to one possession. Eastern Connecticut scored its final field goal of the frame, but Fahey sank a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining to account for the final points of the half.
UMass Dartmouth shot 31 percent (9-for-29) from the floor, including 14.3 percent (1-for-7) from behind the three-point arc. The visitors limited their hosts to 27.8 percent (10-for-36) from the field and 11.1 percent (1-for-9) from long range. The Warriors scored more than half their points in the paint, while producing 10 second chance points off 11 offensive rebounds.
In the early minutes of the second half, the Corsairs sailed out to a 32-27 advantage behind a jumper and a trifecta from Garrity and a midrange shot from junior Beth Castantinni (Newburyport, Mass.). Forsman answered with back-to-back jump shots and Ritrosky followed with a lay up to swing the lead back over to the Warriors, 33-32 with just over 14 minutes left in the game.
After Ronaghan tied the game at 33 apiece with a free throw at the 13 minute, 40 second mark, Eastern Connecticut took command for the duration of the contest.
The Corsairs, who coming into this evenings game averaged five made 3-point field goals per game, were limited to only a pair by Eastern Connecticut's defense. The Warriors dominated the rim, outscoring UMass Dartmouth in the paint (26-12) and out-rebounding the Corsairs by a margin of 18 (50-32).
UMass Dartmouth will return to action at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17, when the Corsairs travel to Little East Conference rival Keene State College.