Warriors drop first road game of season to No. 20 Emmanuel, 65-47
BOSTON - The task was a tall one for an inexperienced Eastern Connecticut State University team to tackle : No. 20 nationally-ranked Emmanuel College in its first game away from home Tuesday night.
Playing its third game in four days, Eastern (1-2) trailed by only nine points seven minutes into the second half before missing 17 of its final 22 shots as Emmanuel pulled away for a 65-47 victory -- its third straight home victory in as many games this season -- in a non-conference game at the Jean Yawkey Center on the Emmanuel campus.
Featuring only one player with more than a year's experience, Eastern
went cold from the floor over the final13 minutes, turning the ball over only one time in that stretch in losing for the third time in the last four meetings with Emmanuel. The Saints were coming off a 25-win season last year which was punctuated with three wins in last year's NCAA Division III tournament and a berth in the sectional tournament.
Emmanuel averaged six-feet across the starting front line and opened the game with two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore. Eastern countered with a senior, three sophomores and a freshman.
Senior forward Fiona O'Dwyer poured in a career-high 30 points and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds to lead Emmanuel, ranked 20th nationally in the first WBCA Division III regular-season poll.
Eastern's defense forced seven Emmanuel turnovers in the opening six minutes of play, leading to a 9-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) as the Warriors moved out to a 12-8 lead.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half -- continuing to turn the ball over under pressure and combining for 20 turnovers in the opening fifteen minutes of action - but the Saints were able to maintain the upper hand. Senior guard Laura Benvenuto found Liz Daley on a backdoor cut and Daley's hoop gave the Saints a ten-point lead at 27-17 with three minutes remaining in the half.
The Saints found themselves in foul trouble and Eastern took advantage of being in the bonus eight minutes into the second half. The Warriors drained five consecutive free throws to cut their deficit to nine at 44-35.
A turn-around in the paint by Bujnowski extended the Emmanuel lead to 52-37 and forced a Warrior timeout with 8:12 on the clock. Out of the timeout, Eastern sophomore Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) scored on a drive and freshman guard Megan Cardarelli (Manchester) sank a jumper from the wing to chip away at the Saints' lead. Senior guard Chenae Earle then found O'Dwyer on the break at the five-minute mark to put the Saints up, 60-44, and forced another Eastern timeout. Unable to re-gain their shooting touch, the Warriors scored just three more points over the final five minutes.
McCourt and Forsman combined to take 33 of Eastern's 55 shots and commit ten of the team's 22 turnovers, with McCourt finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds as the only Eastern player in double figures. The 5-foot-11 inch O'Dwyer connected on 13 of 22 field goals and also came up with seven of her team's total of 11 steals.
Eastern hosts Manhattanville College Monday at 6 p.m.