BOSTON, Mass. -- Senior Nakira Examond’s (New Bedford, Mass.) lay-in with 12 seconds remaining lifted UMass Dartmouth to its second straight Little East Conference women’s basketball regular season championship with a 60-59 victory over UMass Boston Wednesday evening at the Clark Athletic Center.
The winning bucket capped a memorable night for Examond, as she became the first player in program history to reach the 1,000 career rebounding mark with a second quarter board. The All-America forward scored 22 points and grabbed 10 caroms to record her 13th double-double of the season for the Corsairs, who reached the 20-win plateau for a third straight year in improving to 20-4 overall and 13-2 in league play.
Examond scored 20 points in the opening 20 minutes of action to stake UMass Dartmouth to a 34-23 advantage at the break, as the visitors limited the host Beacons (17-7, 10-5 LEC) to a 19 percent shooting effort in the first half. UMass Boston crept back to within five midway through the third quarter before the Corsairs took an eight-point edge (54-46) into the final frame, and the hosts held the visitors to just four points in the first six-plus minutes of that fourth quarter to slice their deficit in half on sophomore Tahjai Mazyck’s (Hamden, Conn.) jumper with 3:40 remaining.
A lay-in by sophomore Joie Grassi (Plymouth, Mass.) and a free throw by sophomore Geanna Williams (Cromwell, Conn.) whittled UMass Dartmouth’s lead to one, and after a foul with 20 seconds to play, sophomore Jalani Jackson (Brockton, Mass.) gave UMass Boston its only lead of the night by converting a pair of free throws and set up Examond’s heroics. Jackson missed a potential game-winning lay in on the ensuing Beacon possession, and the visitors were able to run out the clock and claim the regular season crown.
Junior Ashley Brown (New Bedford, Mass.) added 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the win for UMass Dartmouth, which received nine points and three boards from freshman Shaelyn Carreiro (Fall River, Mass.) along with seven points, four caroms and four steals from senior Jess Korzec (West Brookfield, Mass.). Sophomore Lauren Empey (Middleboro, Mass.) added four points and five rebounds for the Corsairs, who shot 37 percent (23-62) from the field and outscored the hosts by a 15-0 margin from behind the arc to improve to 29-2 in their last 31 Little East regular season contests.
Jackson scored 17 points and grabbed four rebounds to lead three players in double figures in the setback to UMass Boston, which received 11 points, seven boards and three steals from Grassi along with 10 points from Mazyck. Sophomore Alecia Quinones (Stoughton, Mass.) chipped in with eight points and eight caroms for the Beacons, who shot 29 percent (17-58) from the floor and held a 25-9 scoring advantage at the foul line on the night, as the hosts outrebounded the visitors by a 42-40 margin.
UMass Dartmouth hosts Castleton in its Little East regular season finale on Saturday afternoon at the Tripp Athletic Center that tips off at 1:00 pm, while UMass Boston travels to Providence, R.I. on Saturday afternoon for a Little East matchup with Rhode Island College that also tips off at 1:00 pm.