Gulls swoop in, collect two wins and a 56-42 championship-game win
By Bill Mullins/Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Endicott College women's basketball team used an early 11-0 run and was never seriously threatened in winning the 33rd Annual Eastern Connecticut State University Tip-Off Tournament championship with a 56-42 victory over the host Warriors Sunday afternoon at the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Above: Sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Photo by Courtney Weber)
Eastern (1-1) used a 13-5 run to finally pull to within ten with a minute to play but Endicott's (2-0) lead proved to be too much. Endicott junior Jennifer White made four free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
A 17-time tournament champion, Eastern was denied its third straight tourney title12th in the last 16 years. Endicott had overcome a six-point halftime deficit in a 58-47 first-round win over Connecticut College Saturday, while Eastern dispatched Simmons College, 64-33, in Saturday's late game.
During the critical 11-0 run over two minutes, four different players were able to contribute points for Endicott, including junior Jordan Ferland leading that charge with the first four points of the eight that she would score for the game. During that time, Eastern missed all eight shots it attempted and an early 2-0 lead turned into an 11-2 deficit just four minutes and 21 seconds into the game.
The Warriors got off to a slow start - no one would reach double figures in the game -- and could never rebound after a 33.3 percent (10-30) shooting effort in the first half. For the game the Warriors managed to shoot just 30 percent (18-60) as they were held to their lowest point total since January 24 of last season. Sophomores Taylor McBride (Willimantic) and Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) led the Warriors with eight points apiece while freshman Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) added seven off the bench.
The Warriors seemed entirely overmatched in the game as they were dominated on the boards 51-29 and were outscored by ten points on second-half opportunities by Endicott's 16-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
Most active on the glass for the Warriors were McCourt and freshman Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) who pulled down seven and six, respectively. Also indicative of the aggressiveness of Endicott was the 20-9 edge the Gulls held in free-throws attempted, as they took the ball to the basket time after time and when they were unable to finish they were able to get to the free throw line and capitalize on their opportunities, especially in the first half.
Leading the charge for Endicott was tournament Most Valuable Player Samantha Crough with 15 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, and three steals. White aided in the cause with 11 points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots of her own. Senior point guard Jen McBrien recorded a game-high 14 rebounds. For the tournament, Crough finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds. Joining Crough on the all-tournament team from Endicott were McBrien and White. McBrien had 20 rebounds in the tournament and White 31 points, 16 rebouds and was 13-for-16 from the foul line.
There were some high points that the Warriors will be able to take away from this game and build upon moving forward. Not to be lost amid the hustle and bustle of the final score was the high-quality defensive play that Eastern exhibited in the game, holding Endicott to 38.2 percent (21-55) shooting and forcing the Gulls into 23 turnovers.
Eastern placed two players on the all-tournament team in McBride and freshman Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA). In the tournament had 14 points, four assists, and five rebounds while playing lockdown defense and engineering the Eastern offense. Leonard put up totals of 15 points and eight rebounds, giving a big lift off the bench in both contests. McCourt had the best numbers for Eastern in the tournament with team-highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds on 55.0 shooting from the floor.
Eastern visits Emmanuel College Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The matchup was the first all-time between Eastern and Endicott.
This is the 12th time that Eastern has come second in the Tip-Off Tournament.
With the win, Endicott improves to 3-1 all-time in the tournament after coming in third in 2005.
At one point in the game, four freshmen and a sophomore were on the court for Eastern, which features ten newcomers on its 16-player roster. Injured freshmen Gabriella Farrell (Stoneham, MA) and Victoria Pfohl (Trumbull) did not see action on the weekend. Endicott started a senior and four juniors in the final game, Eastern a senior, three sophomores and a redshirt freshman.
Endicott is coached by Brittany Hutchinson, a Groton, MA native who played briefly under current Eastern head coach Denise Bierly in 2004/05. Hutchinson led the Gulls to the ECAC tournament in her first season as head coach a year ago.
Connecticut College routs Simmons for third place
In the game to decide third place, Connecticut College (1-1) won its first tip-off tournament game in its fourth try by holding Simmons College (0-2) to 20.8 percent shooting from the floor and forcing 24 turnovers (five shot-clock violations) in a 52-27 victory.
Simmons managed only four second-half field goals and was outscored 27-11 over the final 20 minutes, when Conn turned the ball over only three times.
Conn all-tournament pick Willa McKinley, a freshman, was the only player in the game in double figures, finishing with 15 points and no turnovers in 25 minutes. Junior Tara Gabelman (Irvington, NY) had nine points (5-for-5 from the foul line), a game-high 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks for the winners.
Conn scored 14 straight points late in the first half - going ahead for good on McKinley's three-point field goal to move out to a 15-point, 21-6 lead with five minutes left in the first half. Conn sank six free throws in as many attempts in that stretch and McKinley, senior Kacie Quick and freshman Caroline Jadovich all dropped in three-point field goals.
McKinley led Conn in the tournament with 19 points (8-for-16 from the floor), while Gabelman had 16 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals and sophomore Carlee Smith 13 points and ten assists.
Simmons, making its tip-off debut, missed 12 of 15 three-pointers in the game. In two games, the Sharks shot just 23.8 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent (5-for-17) from the foul line with 41 turnovers. Simmons junior Leah Davis and junior Hannah May combined for 23 of their team's 60 tournament points.