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W-Basketball: Warriors Can't Maintain

 No. 7 Williams uses 18-8 run in second half in 64-54 non-conference win

carter_72dpi_7495.jpgWILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. --  Nationally-ranked Williams College outscored the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team 18-8 over eight minutes early in the second half to break open a tight game and post a 64-54 victory Thursday night at Chandler Gymnasium.

At left: Tanisha Carter

Ranked No. 7 nationally in the most recent WBCA/ESPN Division III poll, Williams (18-1) won its sixth straight game since an 85-63 loss to No. 4 Amherst College and remained unbeaten this year in ten home games. Coming off Tuesday's loss to Little East Conference opponent Western Connecticut, Eastern (12-6) has now lost two straight New England games for the first time this season.

Williams converted nine of 21 three-pointers in the game and shot 40.6 percent from the floor in the second half after shooting 29 percent from the floor in the first half that left the Ephs with a two-point halftime lead.

Leading by one point two minutes into the second half, Williams used an 18-8 run to move out to a 46-35 lead with ten minutes left. Despite turning the ball over only six times in the second half, the Warriors were never able to make a significant dent in that lead due to 25.0 percent field goal shooting and 11-of-17 free-throw shooting over the final 20 minutes. 

Despite featuring three starters at six-feet or better, Williams was outrebounded by six by the Warriors. Eastern sophomore forward Tanisha Carter (East Hartford) recorded her first double-double  in nine games with game-highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Even though she continued to struggle from the floor (9-of-50 in her last five games), senior guard Jessica Moriarty (East Haven) continued to contribute on the boards, grabbing  a season-tying 11. Senior guard Amanda Pierlioni (Plainville) chipped in 12 points and six rebounds.

Six-foot-one  inch Chessie Jackson (11 points-12 rebounds) and Jennie Harding (10-10) both posted double-doubles for Williams, whose last two losses have come against Amherst (the Ephs reached the NCAA sectional semifinals last year before losing by five to the Lord Jeffs en route to a 20-8 season). Six-foot-three inch Claire Baecher added 11 points but was limited to just two rebounds. Team rebounding leader Taylor Shea, a six-foot senior, grabbed nine rebounds but was held seven points below her scoring average of 11.0.

Williams tossed in three more three-pointers than its season average, getting production behind the arc from four different players (only one player shot less than 40.0 percent from three-point range).

Averaging 67.0 points through its first 15 games, Eastern has averaged just 53.3 points in the last three games, thanks largely in part to 18.2 percent shooting (8-of-44) from three-point range (30.5 percent overall).

Against quality opponents, the Warriors continue to struggle. While they are averaging 70.9 points with a 42.9 field goal percentage in 12 wins, they are  averaging only 52.5 points in their six losses. In those games, Eastern has averaged 18 turnovers and a 36.0 percent from the floor and 20.4 percent from three-point range. Half of the losses have come against teams ranked nationally (Amherst (No. 1 at the time), Williams and Western Connecticut).

Eastern returns to Little East Conference play Saturday at Plymouth State University at 1 p.m.