Eastern recovers from early deficit but eventually drops LEC decision
PROVIDENCE, R.I.- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team rebounded after allowing the first 12 points of the game but was never able to pull even in a 46-31 Little East Conference loss to Rhode Island College Saturday at The Murray Center Saturday afternoon.
At right: Brianna Leonard
While Rhode Island (6-2, 2-0 LEC) was sinking three of its first four shots (two of them three-pointers), Eastern (2-7, 0-2 LEC) came up empty on its first four shots (three of them in the paint) and turned the ball over once on its first five possession in digging an early 12-0 hole before pulling to within five later in the half and to within three midway through the second half.
Rhode Island (6-2, 2-0 LEC) won its third straight game and the defending LEC regular season and tournament champions defeated Eastern (2-7, 0-2 LEC) for the third straight time in the series.
Getting baskets from three different people, Eastern rallied back to within 27-24 when sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) put back her own miss seven minutes into the second half. Still trailing by three and maintaining possession of the ball with ten minutes left, Eastern gave the ball back to the Anchorwomen and senior guard Ashley O'Dell turned a steal into two points to make it 31-26. Another Eastern miss inside resulted in a foul and a pair of free throws by RIC freshman guard Danielle LeBlanc, and after the Warriors gave the ball away, freshman forward Vandell Andrade put back a miss by junior guard Stephanie Prusko to make it 35-26 with 8:27 left.
The Rhode Island lead reached double figures minutes later and crested at the final 15-point margin.
Eastern missed nearly 80 percent of its field goals en route to its season-low scoring total, with no one reaching double figures.
Eastern freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) had a team-high eight points to go along with five rebounds and two steals and turned the ball over only once in 34 minutes, while sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) registered six points and five boards. Freshman guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) led Eastern with six rebounds.
Both teams struggled to find their offense in the game, especially Eastern, which shot 21 percent (12-for-57). RIC finished at 33 percent (18-for-55). The hosts controlled the glass (48-40), but lost the turnover battle (21-17).
Rhode Island senior forward Courtney Burns led the way with a game-high 12 points to go along with three boards and two assists and Andrade grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to complement nine points in just 16 minutes. Junior forward Cara Paladino contributed eight points and 10 rebounds. O'Dell had eight points, while classmate forward Alexia Vega had four points and seven boards off the bench.
Eastern competes in the Hampton Inn West Springfield/Naismith Classic, hosted by Springfield College, Jan. 1-2. The Warriors face Bridgewater State in their opener at 3 p.m.