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January 2013 Archives

W-Swim: Warriors Dominate WNEU

Warriors record fastest times in 12 of 14 events in 151-103 victory


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. --  Senior Julie Pietrycha (Newington), junior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) and sophomore Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) all won two individual events as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swimming team routed Western New England University, 151-103, Wednesday evening at the Sports Center pool.

At right: Julie Pietrycha (Photo by Colleen King

On the brink of its second straight one-loss season, Eastern (7-1) officially was credited with ten first-place finishes and also swam the fastest times in two additional events while competing on an exhibition basis. The win was the ninth straight for Eastern over Western New England (4-5).

Pietrycha won the 100 (1:18.88) and 200 (2:47.63) yard breaststroke, McVeigh  the 100 (57.07) and 200 (2:06.01)  freestyle and Smoragiewicz the 100 individual medley (1:07.03) and 50 backstroke (30.26) and swam the lead leg of the 200 freestyle relay (1:48.77) which clocked the fastest time on an exhibition basis.

The Warriors took the top three spots in the 50 and 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle and on an exhibition basis, the 200 individual medley. Eastern also went 1-2 in the 200 medley relay, 100 individual medley, 200 freestyle, 50 butterfly, 50 freestyle and 200 freestyle relay (on an exhibition basis).

Additional individual champions were juniors Becky Odgers (Shelton) in the 100 backstroke (1:06.40), Colleen King (Barkhamsted) in the 50 butterfly (29.06), and Michelle Schapp (Torrington) in the 50 freestyle (27.01) and freshman Heather Avery (Wethersfield) in the 500 freestyle (6:00.82). Junior  Marissa Colley (East Haven) swam the fastest time (2:24.05) in the 200 individual medley on an exhibition basis.

Eastern swimmers recorded a total of 11 personal bests and 14 fastest times in the meet. Swimming their fastest times of the season were Colley in the 100 freestyle and 200 individual medley, Schapp in the 100 butterfly, Smoragiewicz in the 50 backstroke and 100 individual medley, Odgers in the 200 individual medley, junior Mackenzie Russo (New Milford) in the 100 individual medley, sophomores Rachael Thatcher (Newington) in the 100 and 200 freestyle and Morgan Charlow (Branford) in the 100 backstroke, and freshmen Rachel Borden (Milford) in the 200 freestyle, Kenna Jones (Simsbury) in the 50 and 100 backstroke, and Macaire Jones (Danbury) in the 50 butterfly. 

Eastern looks for its second straight 8-1 regular season when it hosts Rhode Island College Saturday at 11 a.m. in the regular-season finale.


M-Basketball: Warriors Can't Match Wes

Cardinals sink 12 of first 13 shots, build 20-point first-half lead

robitaille72wes_0256.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. --  The Wesleyan University men's basketball team connected on its first eight shots of the game and 12 of its first 13 to race to a 20-point lead on the way to a 74-63 non-conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Wednesday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At left: Eastern's Chris Robitaille bodies up on Wesleyan's Mike Callaghan in the first half of Wednesday's non-conference loss.(Photo by Krysta Valerio)

Eastern (13-7) commited a season-low five turnovers in the game but could not match Wesleyan (11-10) in the first half. The Cardinals shot 65.4 percent from the floor before the break (8-for-12 from three-point range), opened up a 20-point lead ten minutes into action, and weathered an Eastern threat early in the second half to post their fourth straight victory over the Warriors in this series.

Senior guards Shasha Brown and Derick Beresford combined for 25 points in the first half on 10 for 15 field goal shooting (5-for-8 from long range) for Wesleyan, which connected on ten of 18 three-point field goals in the game despite averaging under six made per contest this season.

Eastern opened the second half strong, scoring the first nine points behind senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville), who contributed four and five points, respectively, as the Warriors needed just 2:19 to cut the deficit to three, 42-39. Soon after, Wesleyan countered with a six-point run of its own when junior forward Glen Thomas put back a teammate's miss, then turned an Eastern turnover into two more points on a driving layup before junior guard Zach Lynch came off the bench to score his only points following an Eastern miss that made it 54-43 with 11 minutes left.  The lead dipped into single digits only once thereafter.

Brown and Robitaille shared game-high scoring honors with 19 points each. Beresford followed Brown (six assists) with 18, including his 1,000th career point on a jumper 2:34 into play. Senior forward Mike Callaghan had 11 points and five assists and Thomas ten points on perfect shooting (5-for-5) from the floor.

Robitaille led all players with ten rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) had 16 points for the Warriors, extending his streak to 25 games with at least one three-point field goal.

Eastern senior guard Joe Ives (Avon), who missed Saturday's home loss to Rhode Island College with a shoulder injury, was helped off the floor with 5:23 left after injuring his knee on a collision under the basket.

The Warriors played without starting freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield), who missed his first game after straining his calf Saturday against Rhode Island.

Eastern visits Plymouth State University Saturday at 3 p.m. in a Little East Conference game.


W-Basketball: Bowdoin Downs Warriors

leonard72_3060.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team missed its final ten shots of the first half, allowing Bowdoin College to break a tie and score the final six points of the session on the way to a 61-50 non-conference victory Tuesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At left: Brianna Leonard splits Bowdoin defenders Kirsten Prue (10) and Megan Phelps (32) for two of her career-high 17 points in the first half Tuesday. (Photo by Courtney Weber).

The win is the fourth straight in the series for Bowdoin (11-8), which has won three straight. Eastern (7-13) had a two-game winning streak snapped in falling under .500 (4-5) at home.

There were four ties and three lead changes before the Polar Bears took the lead for good with just under five minutes left in the first half. While Eastern failed on ten field goals over the remainder of the half, Bowdoin got a pair of free throws from senior guard Kaitlin Donahoe and two inside baskets from  freshman forward Shannon Brady  to take a six-point, 27-21, lead into the lockeroom. Donahoe assisted on both of Brady's baskets in the final minutes of the half.

After the Warriors pulled to within a point six minutes into the second half on a defensive rebound and jumper from freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA), the Polar Bears ripped off 15 unanswered points over a span of five minutes to build their largest lead, 48-32, with nine minutes left. Five different Bowdoin playerrs fueled that run with points, with sophomore guard Sara Binkhorst and junior guard Kristen Prue  nailing three-pointers, with junior forward Anna Prohl adding a conventional three-point play.

On seven possessions in that Bowdoin run, Eastern missed four field goals and two free throws and turned the ball over twice.

Eastern freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) topped Eastern with a career-high 17 points, with Ritrosky following with 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

After being limited to just four points in the first half, team scoring leader Donahoe equaled her season average with a team-high 15 points for Bowdoin, with Binkhorst adding 13 points, nine coming on three-point field goals. Five Bowdoin players grabbed either five or six rebounds.

Eastern visits Plymouth State University Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Little East Conference game.


The Aconfora Report: Weekly Basketball

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013

By Nicholas Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

After splitting the doubleheader on Saturday vs. RIC, the Eastern women's and men's teams will finish out its out-of-conference schedule on Tuesday and Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

The women come off a huge win against the Anchorwomen as they won by two with a defensive stop to win the game. The men lost a heartbreaker as they were only down three with around five minutes remaining, but after the Anchormen knocked down a few threes, the Warriors couldn't dig themselves out of the deep hole.

Both teams are looking to finish out the season strong as they are both in position to grab a good seed in the LEC Tournament.

 Women -- Tuesday -- 7 p.m.


At left: Victoria Pfohl

Eastern looks like it's  improving more and more as the season goes on. Taylor McBride stepped up for the Warriors on Saturday vs. RIC and I expect her to keep her foot on the gas. McBride showed some of her offensive game as she was able to get to the basket and knock down a few jumpers, she also played extremely well on the other side with a few big steals. Kristina Forsman and Shannon McCourt played well once again and were probably happy to see McBride break out in such a big game. Brianna Leonard and Jill Ritrosky look great in their freshmen year, but must keep it up as the season comes to an end.

Eastern will be taking on Bowdoin College, which is similar to the Eastern team from the beginning of the season. Bowdoin has senior guard Kaitlin Donahoe, who averages 15.5 points per game and sophomore forward Megan Phelps, who averages 9 points per game. Why does this remind me of Eastern? It was all McCourt and Forsman early on, but now the freshmen and McBride are coming up big. Bowdoin is 10-8 coming into this one, which makes me believe this will be a very competitive game. I don't see Eastern having too many problems in the post as there isn't much of a size difference between both teams. Although the Warriors seem to always make it interesting at the end of games, I believe they'll get the win at home.

Key for Bowdoin - Instead of shutting down McCourt and Forsman, focus on the big freshmen and McBride. If the Polar Bears can make it a 2-man game for Eastern, they can get a huge road win against a LEC opponent.

Key for Eastern - Get Victoria Pfhol more looks from three and open up the lane for McBride. Forsman and McCourt will score their points, so Eastern must rely on its other players.

 Men -- Wednesday -- 7 p.m.


At left: Justin Nunez

Joe Ives was hurt in practice and is out indefinitely, so Eastern looks for its other guards to step up in this one against Wesleyan University. Trachone Preston was pressured throughout the entire RIC game and finally showed his "freshman" side, although he still looks like the leading candidate for the LEC Rookie-of the-Year award. Justin Nunez, the smallest player on the roster at 5-5, got much more playing time and played fairly well. Although Nunez is small, he is smart with the ball and has very good ball handling skills. The player I expect to see more in this one is the 6-2 freshman guard Kevin Leumene. Leumene came in this year expecting to see a lot of time with Preston, but was injured early in the season. The fact that Coach Bill Geitner gave Leumene minutes in a game as big as one against RIC, he is sure to get more in this game vs. the Cardinals. The Cardinals have three players who average double digits in scoring and have an offensive that is able to score at will. Sasha Brown averages over 17 points per game and leads the team in scoring. Mike Callaghan isn't far behind him as he averages just over 16 points per game. Both Brown and Callaghan may cause some problems for Eastern, but it'll be interesting to see how much the Cardinals know about this Eastern team.

Brian Salzillo  -- ranked third nationally in three-point field goals per game -- has slowed down in conference play, but maybe a game like this will give him the opportunity to play the in-and-out-game with Chris Robitialle. I expect Eastern to come out playing tougher than it has all season after the loss to RIC, and as long as they don't make any late mistakes, they should win this one.

Key for WU - Pressure Preston like RIC did. Also, make sure to play tight on and off ball defense on Salzillo as he'll look to shoot early.

Key for Eastern - Work the ball inside to Robitaille to let him test the big men of the Cardinals. Give Nunez and Leumene plenty of minutes so they can improve on playing without Ives. 

Swimming: LEC Cites Freshman Jones

After earning 15 points in win over RWU, she is Rookie of Week


NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury) has been selected as the women's swimming Rookie-of-the-Week in the Little East Conference for her contributions in Saturday's victory over Roger Williams University.

At right: Macaire Jones (kneeling, second from left) was named all-conference earlier this season with the 200 medley relay.

One of the team's top performers in the sprint freestyle and in the butterfly, Jones became the second Eastern swimmer to earn an award this season and first Eastern rookie to be selected for the weekly honor since last February 6.

Jones totaled 15 points in three individual events Saturday, plus swam a leg of the 200 yard freestyle relay which was second in a time of 1:46.39 when Eastern downed visiting Roger Williams University, 154-107, for its sixth dual victory against a loss this year. Jones won the 100 yard freestyle (56.64) for the third time this year, was second in the 50 freestyle (25.95) and fourth in the 100 butterfly (1:06.22), posting season-best times in all three events.

Jones, who has captured the 50 freestyle four times this season, has the fastest time on the team this year in the 50 freestyle, second-fastest mark in the 100 freestyle and third-fastest times in the 100, 50  (29.43) and 200 (2:36.63) butterfly events.

During the Little East Conference Championships Dec. 1, Jones earned all-conference honors by swimming the anchor leg of the 200 medley relay which placed second. She was also fourth in the 50 freestyle, fifth in the 100 freestyle and ninth in the 100 butterfly.

Eastern hosts Western New England University Wednesday at 6 p.m.



Track: Four Excel at Springfield Invite

Reynolds breaks record in 60mH; Hewett, Chambers, McElveen qualify

Eastern Men's Results.pdf         Eastern Women's Results.pdf

reynolds_72_8470.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. --  Eastern Connecticut State University sophomore Andre Reynolds (Hartford) broke his own program record in the 60 meter hurdles and three teammates qualified for post-season competition at the Springfield College Track & Field Invitational Saturday at the Springfield College Field House.

At left: Andre Reynolds

Reynolds broke his own record in the 60 meter hurdles and junior Fredrick Hewitt (New London) and sophomores Akaya McElveen (New Haven) and Nikki Chambers (East Hampton) qualified for post-season championship competition.

The Eastern men finished ninth in a field of 11 with 24 points while the women were last in a field of 12 with 18 ½ points. The St. Lawrence men and women's both scored over 100 points in topping their respective fields to take team titles.

Reynolds finished fifth in a field of 20 in the 60 hurdles in a record time of 8.78, eclipsing the previous record of 8.87 which he had established in the season-opener Dec. 1 at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Having already qualified for the New England Division III Championships in the 60, 200 and 400 meters, Hewett qualified for the New England Open Championships at 400 meters for the second time in as many years. Hewett was timed in 51.05 seconds to capture second place in a field of 43 to earn eight points. Hewett also added six points with a third-place finish among 48 competitors with a time of 7.26 in the 60 and ran the anchor on the 4x400 relay which picked up four points with a fourth-place finish (3:34.43).

mcelveen_72_8567.jpgThe program record-holder in the 600 and with the 4x800 relay, Chambers qualified for the ECAC Division III Championships with a time of 2:20.20 in a second-place finish among 35 in the 800, while McElveen qualified for the New England Division III Championships in her third event with a personal-best time of 1:02.29 in claiming fourth place in a field of 29 in the 400. McElveen earlier met the New England Division III Championship standards in the 600 and 800.

At left: Akaya McElveen

Other top finishes for the women included McElveen in the 200 (ninth among 59), junior Tacia Bryant (Guilford) in the long jump (sixth among 29) and the 400 (11th of 29), freshman Shanique Bunsie (Bridgeport), who was 11th in a field of 30 in the shot; senior Christina Charpentier (Monroe) who was ninth among 29 in the 400, junior Katie France (Portland), who was 11th among 35 in the 800 and 13th among 42 in the mile; senior Cora Gingras (East Hampton), who was eighth among 16 in the triple jump, junior Lauren Hultzman (Putnam) who was fifth among 27 in the high jump and 11th among 29 in the long jump; and freshmen Samone Jones-McCarthy (Windham) and Emily Kohn (Columbia), who tied for 15th place among 30 competitors in the shot.

For the men,  Reynold shared ninth place in a field of 57 in the 200, freshman  John Boisette (East Hartford) was 24th among 57 in the 200 and sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington) was fifth in a field of 26 in the long jump and seventh among 30 in the 600.

Eastern returns to the Springfield College Invitational Saturday at 11 a.m.


W-Swim: Warriors Overpower Hawks

Sixteen individuals contribute points in 154-107 win over Roger Williams


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team  collected 29 of the meet's first 35 points and was never headed in recording a 154-107 victory over Roger Williams University Saturday afternoon at the Sports Center pool.

At right: Becky Odgers

A total of 16 individual contributed points for the Warriors (6-1), who burst to a 51-22 lead after four events, then pulled away in the ninth event for a 58-point lead when juniors Marissa Colley (East Haven) and Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia, NY) and sophomore Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) went 1-2-3 in the 200 backstroke.

Six individual claimed first place, with junior Becky Odgers (Shelton) winning the 500 and 1000 yard freestyle, junior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) the 50 butterfly, Colley the 200 backstroke, Smoragiewicz the 100 backstroke, freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury) the 100 freestyle, and freshman Katie King (Barkhamsted) the 100 breaststroke. The 200 medley relay of junior Michelle Schapp (Torrington), Katie King, McVeigh and Colley opened the meet by taking 11 points with a first-place finish.

Odgers led the Warriors with 19 points (adding a point in the 100 freestyle), McVeigh contributing 16, Macaire Jones and Katie King adding 15 each and Colley 13.  In addition to her first, McVeigh was second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 100 freestyle, Macaire Jones  second in the 50 freestyle and fourth in the 100 butterfly, Katie King third in the 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley and Colley second in the 200 backstroke.

Behind Odgers, sophomore Abby Arisco (Wallingford) and freshman Courtney Holzer (Cromwell), the Warriors also finished 1-2-3 in the 1000 freestyle and the team commanded the top two spots in the 50 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 500 freestyle.

Four individuals swam to first-place finishes for Roger Williams (7-4): junior Heather Beardsworth won the 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, sophomore Stephanie Niman the 200 freestyle, junior Kristen Grandonico the 50 freestyle,  and senior Melly Marrington the 100 butterfly. Niman, junior Erin Carlson, Marrington and Grandonico also teamed to win the meet-ending 200 freestyle relay.

The win was the third straight in dual competition for Eastern over Roger Williams as the Warriors move over .500 (5-4) in the all-time series.

Eastern hosts Western New England University Wednesday at 6 p.m.

M-Basketball: Warriors Fall Out of First

RIC takes over sole possession in Little East with 60-50 victory

garrow72ric_0032.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Rhode Island College men's basketball team opened the game by missing 13 of its first 14 shots but sank over half of its second-half attempts from the floor on the way to a 60-50 Little East Conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At left: Mike Garrow battles Tahrike Carter for position in the first half of Saturday's Little East Conference loss. (Photo by Courtney Weber).

Ranked No. 21 nationally, Rhode Island  (16-2, 8-1 Little East) took hold of sole possession of first place in the conference by winning its ninth straight game since dropping a 76-68 home decision to Eastern (13-6, 7-2 Little East) Dec. 8 at the Murray Center.

Eastern, which defeated Rhode Island in last year's conference championship game, saw seven-game conference and six-game overall winning streaks come to an end. The Warriors drop into a two-way tie for second place in the LEC with the University of Southern Maine, which dumped homestanding Western Connecticut State University Saturday, 90-77.

The No. 1-rated defensive team in the conference, Rhode Island held Eastern 23 points under its season average, outscoring the hosts 36-23 in the second half.  The Warriors entered play as the conference's top three-point-shooting club but managed only three from distance on 16 tries.

Led by junior guard Michael Palumbo, the Anchormen second team outscored the Eastern reserves, 29-3. Palumbo came off the bench to nail all three of his three-point field goals, all coming in the second half. Palumbo connected on consecutive three-pointers to give the Anchormen their first double-digit lead, 52-42, with just under five minutes left and two minutes later, Palumbo and junior guard Nyheem Sanders drained back-to-back three-pointers to push the visitors' lead to 13, 57-44, with three minutes left.

Three free throws from senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) gave the Warriors their last lead with 12 minutes left before Rhode Island countered with nine consecutive points to move out to a six-point, 44-38 lead with nine minutes left.  Six of RIC's points in that stretch came inside the paint by three difference individuals. Senior guard Tahrike Carter got it going with a free throw, and after Eastern missed two straight three-pointers, he dropped in a jump shot.

Carter (14 points) and Palumbo (13) topped RIC in scoring while junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) led Eastern with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) had eight points and shared game-high rebounding honors with Hundley with eight, while Robitaille grabbed seven. Preston  converted all six of his free throws to push is season percentage over .800 (.810).

Salzillo swished one three-pointer in each half to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least one long-range basket to 24.

Rhode Island turned the ball over only nine times in the whole game, with only three coming in the second half when it outscored Eastern 16-1 off turnovers.  In the game, 20 Eastern turnovers resulted in 22 RIC points.

Senior point guard Joe Ives (Avon), the Eastern team leader in minutes, missed his first game since his freshman year with a shoulder injury. In this year's win over Rhode Island, Ives played all 40 minutes and finished with 14 points and six rebounds.

Eastern  hosts Wesleyan University Wednesday at 7 p.m.

W-Basketball: Warriors Overcome RIC

They emerge with tight win to gain share of third place in LEC, 55-53

ritrosky_72yarborough_0243.JPGWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) sparked a run of seven straight points late in the game for Eastern Connecticut State University and Rhode Island College missed a shot and turned the ball over on its final two possession with a chance to tie as the Warriors edged the Anchorwomen, 55-53, in a Little East Conference women's basketball game Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At left: Jill Ritrosky (Photo by Cris Yarborough)

The win for Eastern (7-12, 5-4 Little East) avenges a 46-31 loss at Rhode Island (12-7, 5-4 Little East) as the Warriors move into a tie for third place in the conference with Rhode Island and UMass Dartmouth, which routed visiting Plymouth State University, 76-39, Saturday.

Down by six with seven minutes left, the Warriors bounced back with seven straight points in a span of less than two minutes. While RIC was missing five field goal attempts (four in one sequence) and was turning the ball over on six possessions, Eastern battled back behind Ritrosky, sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) and sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington). 

Ritrosky opened the closed the run with free throws, McCourt sank a pair, and Forsman delivered one of her three three-pointers as the Warriors surged into a 49-48 lead with 5:26 left. Sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic) set up McCourt's two freebies with a steal that returned possession to the hosts and McCourt finally pulled down a defensive rebound after RIC missed four consecutive shots in the paint, and McBride got the ball to Forsman for her three-point basket on the other end of the court.

There were ten ties and seven lead changes in the game before a pair of free throws by Forsman gave the Warriors the lead for good, 53-51, with just over three minutes left.  Rhode Island's next missed shot was rebounded by McCourt  and Ritrosky scored inside to give the hosts their largest lead of the second half (55-51) and biggest advantage since there were eight minutes left in the first half.
With a chance to salt the game away, the Warriors turned the ball over twice, missed two free throws and a field goal on their final four possessions, but the visitors could not capitalize.  Junior guard Stephanie Prusko managed to pull RIC to within a basket with an inside bucket with 65 seconds left, but the Anchorwomen missed a potential game-tying jumper with 6.3 seconds left. The ball was rebounded by senior forward Alexia Vega, but after a timeout, RIC threw the ball out of bounds on a long in-bound attempt with 2.8 seconds left. The Warriors missed a pair of three throws with 2.1 seconds and the second miss was grabbed by RIC senior forward Courtney Burns, but the clock expired before the Anchorwomen could attempt a shot.

After missing nine of ten field goals in the earlier loss to Rhode Island, Forsman led all players with 17 points, with Ritrosky adding 13 points and seven rebounds and McCourt nine points and a game-high ten rebounds. In 29 minutes off the bench, McBridge was 3-for-3 from the floor with two assists and a steal and rebound and no turnovers. 

Burns led Rhode Island with 16 points, junior guard Cara Paladino adding 15 points and nine rebounds and Vega seven boards. The Anchorwomen played with third-leading scorer Ashley O'Dell, who contributed eight points and four assists in a starting role in her team's victory over Eastern earlier this season.

Eastern hosts Bowdoin Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Aconfora Report: RIC Saturday

By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff


 The women will kick off the doubleheader at 1p.m. at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. After their 18-point win on the road at Keene, the Warriors come in with some momentum. Although Shannon McCourt didn't have a good game vs. Keene, look for her to come out ready to play in this huge conference home game.

Eastern is at 4-4 in the conference and needs to finish the last few weeks of the season on a high if they want to make a run. Erin Brooks played very well against the owl as she scored eight points and was a presence rebounding the ball. On the other side, the Anchorwomen don't have any player that averages double digits in points as they all share the wealth. Vandell Andrade shoots 50 per cent  from the field and averages 9.6 points per game, which actually leads the team. Behind her, Courtney Burns averages 9.2 points per game. With no one at 6 feet, this will be an interesting game as there will be a lot more shots taken from the outside. I expect the freshman Jill Ritrosky to have a good game as she may be the best post player between both teams since McCourt has been stretching out her game this season. 

Key for RIC - Shut down two of the four main scorers for Eastern. If they can stop the two freshmen (Ritrosky and Brianna Leonard) or two sophomores (Kristina Forsman and McCourt) they should have no problem winning this game.

 Key for Eastern - Put pressure on one or two players to try and carry the load offensively for RIC. They don't have one pure scorer, so making them rely on one or two players will cause problems for the Anchorwomen.


The men will close out the doubleheader at 3pm

The Anchormen come in 15-2 and 7-1 in the conference. Both teams have had good seasons thus far as the RIC men are ranked 21st in the nation.

Since these teams played last, RIC has only lost one game which leads to their ranking of 21st in the country. This will be the biggest game thus far for both teams as it could decide who will be the No. 1 seed and host the conference tournament. When they played each other on December 8th, Eastern was without their shooter Brian Salzillo and Chris Robitaille only scored seven points. With Salzillo back and Robitaille getting better every game, RIC has its hands full. Although Eastern is at home, RIC comes into this one wanting revenge. After they lost to Eastern earlier this season, Coach Bob Walsh was extremely angry with his team and is sure to have them prepared physically and mentally for this game. Tyhrike Carter, who was a big part of last year's team, comes back to the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium looking for revenge from this season's loss and last year's LEC championship loss. Carter averages just over ten points per game and will look to lead his team to their biggest win of the season.

Key for RIC - Shut down the perimeter game for Eastern.  Robitaille will probably have another one of his good games, but if RIC can shut down Salzillo and freshman Trachone Preston from three, they'll be in good shape.

Key for Eastern - Come out early with strong and aggressive defense. RIC had some trouble in the game early on shooting from the field, and a lot of credit was given to Eastern for its good defense. Look for them to do the same in this game.

M-Basketball: Warriors Surge Past KSC

Warriors use 13-3 run to wipe out deficit for seventh straight LEC win

preston_hundley_raw_6832.jpgKEENE, N.H. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team overcame a nine-point second-half deficit, breaking a late tie with six  consecutive points to defeat Keene State College on the Owls' home floor for the fourth straight year, 62-57, Tuesday night in a Little East Conference game at Spaulding Gymnasium.

At left: Trachone Preston

The defending LEC regular-season and tournament champion, Eastern (13-5, 7-1 Little East) retains a share of the conference lead with Rhode Island College, which came from behind for a 56-51 home win over Western Connecticut State University Tuesday night.

The Warriors have won six straight games overall and seven in a row in the conference since an LEC-opening overtime loss at the University of Southern Maine. Keene State (10-7, 5-3 Little East) missed out on an opportunity to pull even with Eastern in the standings. The Owls drop from a share of third place into fourth place.

Eastern led by six at halftime but was outscored 21-6 to open the second half as Keene moved out to it largest lead of nine points, 49-40, nine minutes into the half on a dunk by 6-foot-10 inch senior Rashad Wright. The Warriors countered immediately with a 13-3 run of their own, however, highlighted by the only two three-pointers of the game by junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and one by freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield). Consecutive three-pointers from Salzillo and Preston shot the Warriors back into the lead and with the game tied at 55-all, Salzillo gave Eastern the lead for good with a jumper off a pass from Preston. After Keene missed a three-pointer, sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) sank his only bucket of the game to make it 59-55 with 3:20 left. The Owls missed their next two shots and Preston nailed a jumper with 55 seconds left to make it 61-55.

The LEC team leader in scoring, Keene was held 20 points under its season average by Eastern, the third-best defensive team in the conference. Keene failed on seven of its last eight shots from the floor and three free throws (also being called for a violation on a fourth) over the final 22.7 seconds Tuesday, but remained close by grabbing five offensive rebounds over the last 38 seconds.

Preston led Eastern with 17 points, senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) adding 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds before fouling out with 33 seconds left. Junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) added 13 points and Salzillo ten.  Ranked second nationally and first in the LEC in three-point field goals per game, Salzillo has now collected at least one three-pointer in 23 straight games dating back to last year.. His second three-pointer gave him 59 on the season - one more than his total of last year and the fifth-highest season mark in program history. By connecting on two of three three-pointers, Preston improved his conference-leading three-point percentage to .517 (31-of-60).

Despite playing on its home floor, Keene was whistled for eight more fouls than Eastern, which outscored the hosts by 11 from the stripe. Robitaille was 6-for-9, Preston 5-for-6 and Garrow 5-for-8 from the foul line for Eastern.

Wright led all players with 19 points and 14 rebounds for Keene.

Eastern hosts Rhode Island College Saturday at 3 p.m. in a re-match of last year's LEC tournament final which was won by the Warriors. A victory would give Eastern sole possession of first place and a season sweep of the Anchormen.


W-Basketball Klamps Down on Keene

Warriors limit Owls to least points in this series in 56-38 LEC victory


KEENE, N.H. --  The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team limited Keene State College to its lowest point total in this 36-game series in defeating the Owls on their home floor for the third consecutive time, 56-38, in a Little East Conference game Tuesday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.

At right: Erin Brooks

Having averaged over 66 points in its last two victories, Keene (7-10, 2-6 Little East) managed only 14 first-half points - with six of those points coming in the first 2:35 when the hosts scored the first six points of the game.

The point total is the lowest for Keene against Eastern (6-12, 4-4 Little East) in this 36-game series and the points allowed are the least given up by Eastern this season and the least allowed by the Warriors in their last 36 conference regular-season and playoff games.

With its fifth victory over Keene in the last six meetings, Eastern moves from fifth place in the eight-team conference into a tie for fourth with Massachusetts Dartmouth, which dropped a 76-73 decision at Massachusetts Boston Tuesday.

Leading 10-5 four minutes into the game, Keene managed only four points the rest of the half as the Warriors took an eight-point lead (22-14) into the lockerroom, thanks mainly to the hosts' 25.5 shooting from the floor and ten tournovers.

Leading by two points midway through the second half, Eastern scored 13 consecutive points during 16-3 run over six minutes to build a 15-point, 49-34 lead with five minutes left. Freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) scored seven of her nine second-half points in that stretch with a conventional three-point play and two jumpers, sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) added three of her team-high 15 points with a long-range basket following her own defensive rebound, and freshman forwards Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) and Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) combined for six points, four coming on free throws.

Coming off a 34-point effort in Keene's 11-point home win over UMass Dartmouth Saturday, senior forward Siobhan Carnell led all players with 20 points but converted only 31.6 percent of her field goals and got only 18 total points from her teammates.

Ritrosky also finished in double figures for Eastern with ten points and a game-high seven rebounds, while Leonard totaled all nine of her points in the second half. Sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic) had four points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench and combined with Forsman for only two turnovers in 62 minutes. Brooks added eight points (one shy of her season high) and tied her season high with five rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.

Eastern gained the convincing win with only part-time service from scoring and rebounding leader Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield), who was limited to 12 minutes in the second half after picking up her fourth personal foul seven minutes into the half and the Warriors leading by six.  Replaced by Brooks, McCourt returned with five minutes left and the Warriors enjoying a 15-point advantage.

Eastern continued to dominate its conference opponents on the boards, earning a plus rating for the seventh time in eight LEC games with a lopsided 43-24 advantage.

While both teams struggled from the floor, both teams were red-hot from the foul line. The Warriors were perfect on 15 attempts (Ritrosky led the way with six made) and the Owls sank 10 of 11 (after going 10-for-10 Saturday, Carnell was 8-for-8 against Eastern).

Eastern hosts defending LEC champion Rhode Island College Saturday at 1 p.m.


The Aconfora Report: Tuesday at Keene

By Nicholas Aconfora/Sports Information


Wednesday: 12:30-1:30 p.m.



mcbride_head_72_2751.jpgFollowing a split doubleheader at home vs. Southern Maine Saturday, both Eastern teams head to New Hampshire Tuesday night to play one of their conference rivals, Keene State. It will be the first of this year's home-and-home set, with the clubs meeting at Geissler Gym in the 13th game of the 14-game regular-season conference schedule Feb. 12.

At left: Taylor McBride

Just like Eastern, it is a tale of two different teams as the Keene men's team is near the top of the conference at 5-2 (10-6 overall) and the women toward the bottom at 2-5 (7-9 overall). Like always, both of these games are sure to be nailbiters. I expect all four teams to come out ready to play as the season is quickly coming to a close.

The women's teams will kick off the night at 5:30. Shannon McCourt scored 22 against one of the best teams in the country on Saturday, but was held scoreless in the first ten minutes. Expect to see McCourt attack early in this one as Keene doesn't have anyone that can matchup with her mid-range and inside game. It seems like freshmen Jill Ritrosky and Brianna Leonard are becoming more consistent as the season moves on, so I believe they will keep their foot on the gas and both have another good game. Kristina Forsman is due for a big game scoring and I think this is the game for her to do so. I know I've said before that Forsman shouldn't be relied on to score often with her point guard skills, but with the improvement of Leonard and Ritrosky game by game, it's easy to see that Forsman is able to get off a few more shots.

On the other side, the Owls have Siobhan Carnell, this week's LEC Player-of-the-Week who averages just under16 points per game. Carnell scored nearly half of her team's points against UMass Dartmouth Saturday, finishing with 34 on 12-of-17 shooting from the floor and 10-of-10 marksmanship from the stripe. The 5-9 senior can play both the guard and forward position. I think this would be a good test for the freshman Leonard because Leonard has some size as a guard and could matchup with Carnell. The Owls also have Christan Wojtas who averages just under 13 points per game. The sophomore stands at 5-10 and can also play the guard and forward position. It looks as if this team has a large assortment of players who can move around the floor and play different positions. This game will be close as both teams are looking to stay in the conference picture.

Keene has won its last two conference games after a run of three straight losses against top-tier conference opponents. The Owls downed visiting UMass Dartmouth Saturday by 11 points at Spaulding Gymnasium.

Key for Keene - Even if McCourt scores her points, make sure the freshmen don't get hot. If the Owls shut down Leonard and Ritrosky, it will be a replay of a game from early in the season where McCourt and Forsman had to carry the load.

 Key for Eastern - Let Taylor McBride get more opportunities to score. McBride is extremely quick off the dribble and can get to the basket. It is usually her size that is the disadvantage, but the Owls don't have anyone in the paint that is a game-changer.


preston_tie_72_2796.jpgThe men's teams wrap up the doubleheader at 7:30. Does anybody remember the last time these teams played? It was one of the best games I have ever seen in my career of broadcasting. The Warriors defeated the Owls in 2OT in the LEC tournament semifinal at Geissler Gym. It was a Chris Robitaille putback off a Nick Nedwick shot that kept the game going. That game left a sour taste in the mouths of the Owls and I'm sure they'll look for revenge in this one.

Above: Trachone Preston

The Owls still have a very talented team with many of the players from last year, back this season. It all starts with Ryan Martin who averages 15 points per game - third-best  in the conference. Anthony Mariano, this week's LEC Player-of-the-Week, follows with a 14.3 scoring average. Martin played a big role in Keene's semifinal game vs. Eastern last year and will be huge in this one. The pre-season favorite to win the LEC regular season, Keene has won seven of its last ten but is an uncharacteristic 3-4 at home this year. Eastern is 5-2 on its opponents' court.

At 5-2 in the conference, this would be a huge win for the Owls, but the Warriors feel the same way. After its huge win at home vs. Southern Maine Saturday, Eastern looks to improve its conference record to 7-1. Tyler Hundley stepped up with 16 points and knocked down three triples in the first half as he filled in for Brian Salzillo's early 0-2 start from three. Robitaille and Mike Garrow  both had good games and will be tested Tuesday night. Robitaille has gone up against Rashad Wright for most of his career and he will again in this one. Wright averages nine rebounds per game along with eleven points. This LEC game could be one of the more exciting games of the year and I expect it to go down to the wire.

Key for Keene - Feed the ball into the post to Wright and let him try to establish a post game to open up shots for Martin throughout the whole game.

Key for Eastern - Try and get Salzillo hot in the first half and make sure to guard Martin closely. I believe sticking Trachone Preston - the LEC Rookie-of-the-Week two of the last three weeks -- on Martin could be an interesting matchup. 



Little East Conference Awards Two

Chambers in women's track and Preston in men's basketball honored

chambersN head 72_3443.jpg

At left: Nikki Chambers

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. -  Eastern Connecticut State University sophomore Nikki Chambers (East Hampton) and freshman Trachone Preston (Enfield) have been recognized by the Little East Conference in its weekly awards program.

For the week ending Sunday, Chambers was named the LEC Female Track Athlete-of-the-Week while Preston was recognized as LEC men's basketball Rookie-of-the-Week for the second time in the last three weeks.

Saturday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Invitational in her first attempt at 600 meters , Chambers broke the program's three-year-old record by two seconds with a winning time of  1:41.96 in a ten-person field.  She outran the field by nearly four seconds.  Chambers also anchored the 4x400 relay which won the event in a time of 4:21.13.

Individually, Chambers has also run the 500 and 800 meters this year, placing second in a field of 20 in the 800 in a time of 2:24.82 at the season-opening Massachusetts Boston Invitational Dec. 1 at the Reggie Lewis Center. On Dec. 8 at the Yale University Invitational, she ran the lead on the 4x800 relay which set a program record of 10:14.47 .

preston72_yarborough_0245.jpgChambers becomes the second member of the women's track team to be recognized this year in the LEC awards program, following junior Lauren Hultzman (Putnam), who was named Field Athlete-of-the-Week Dec. 10.

The Warriors compete at the Springfield College Invitational Saturday at 11 a.m.


At right: Trachone Preston (Photo courtesy of Cris Yarborough).

In two Little East Conference wins last week, Preston averaged 13.5 points, 3.0 steals and 2.5 assists in an average of 34.0 minutes. He shot .455 from the floor and .714 from the stripe and also had two three-pointers in five tries.

After being held scoreless in the first half of a 69-56 LEC road win over Western Connecticut last Tuesday, the 5-foot-9 inch guard scored 16 of the team's 40 second-half points (6-of-9 from the floor). In an 87-71 LEC home win over the University of Southern Maine, he had 11 points and only one turnover in 34 minutes.

This season, Preston is fourth on the team in scoring (10.5) and first in three-point field goal percentage (.509) and steals (1.2). He has appeared in all 17 games for the Warriors and has started the last seven. He leads the conference in three-point field goal percentage and is ninth in free throw percentage (.784) (first among freshmen) and tied for ninth in three-point field goals per game (1.7) (second among freshmen).

Last year's LEC regular-season and tournament champion, Eastern is 12-5 overall with five straight wins and shares the top spot in the LEC with a 6-1 record. The Warriors visit pre-season LEC favorite Keene State College Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.




Track: Six are Individual Winners

At Coast Guard Invite, Chambers breaks women's 600 meter mark

chambersN head 72_3443.jpgkruppa head raw_0151.JPG

Chambers (far left), Kruppa

NEW LONDON, Conn. - Sophomore Nikki Chambers (East Hampton) broke the Eastern Connecticut State University women's 600 meter record in her first attempt and sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington) and senior Cora Gingras (East Hampton) qualified for post-season competition in field events when the Warriors returned from a six-week break to compete at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Winter Track & Field Invitational Saturday at the Roland Fieldhouse.

Chambers outran a ten-person field to win the 600 in a record time of 1:41.96, nearly two seconds faster than the previous two-year-old mark. Kruppa, second in the long jump at Coast Guard last year, established a personal-best mark of 21-0 ¾ in winning the event for the first time in his career and qualifying for next month's New England Division III Championships  at Lewiston, ME. The distance was the tenth-longest in program history.

Both Eastern teams finished third in a four-team field with the Coast Guard men and women winning the competition, with the Westfield State University men and women second and the  Trinity College men and women fourth. The Eastern women totaled 44 points, the men 42.

Gingras and junior Lauren Hultzman (Putnam), who share the Eastern indoor high jump record at 5-3, both topped the field with marks of 5-2 ¼ Saturday in that event. Gingras was awarded first place, based on jumps, qualifying for the ECAC Division III Championships in March at the New Balance Track & Field Center in New York City.

In addition to Nikki Chambers, Gingras and Kruppa, other Eastern winners included juniors Katie France (Portland) and Fredrick Hewett (New London), the 4x200 men's relay (1:36.19) and 4x400 women's relay (4:21.13). France headed an 11-person field in the 3000 in a time of 11:22.02 for her first individual first-place finish in any event indoors or outdoors. Hewett won the 400 for the second time in as many years at Coast Guard, outpacing a field of 21 competitors in a time of 52.42. It was his second victory at 400 meters this season. Hewett also captured the 55 in a time of 6.71 in a field of 17 runners and anchored the winning 4x200 relay.

Teamming with Hewett on the winning men's 4x200 relay were sophomores Andre Reynolds (Hartford), and D'Vonte Chambers (West Haven) and junior Michael Singletary (Hartford). The winning women's 4x400 relay was comprised of juniors Akaya McElveen (New Haven) and Tacia Bryant (Guilford), senior Christine Charpentier (Monroe) and Nikki Chambers.

Contributing second-place finishes for the women were Bryant in the long jump (15-9 ¾), Gingras in the triple jump (33-2 ½), and Hultzman in the high jump (5-2 ¼). Picking up eight points with second-place finishes for the men in the 200 (24.09) and 55 hurdles (8.13) was Reynolds -- who ran the third-fastest 55 hurdles in program history in the final -- while D'Vonte Chambers was second to Hewett in the 55 (6.92). The 4x400 relay (3:35.02) was also second.

 Eastern visits Springfield College Saturday at 11 a.m.

W-Swim: Warriors Crown Corsairs

They improve dual meet record to 5-1 with 151-120 win over UMD

jonesM_72_7416.jpgNORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Seven different swimmers contributed at least one first to carry the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team past the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 151-120, Saturday afternoon at the Tripp Athletic Center.

At left: Macaire Jones

The dual meet win is the fifth against one loss for Eastern while UMass Dartmouth (5-2) lost its first dual to a Division III opponent this season. Since losing against UMass the first five times the programs met in dual competition, the Warriorrs have downed the Corsairs the last seven times.

Freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury) captured the 50 (26.66) and 100 freestyle (57.59) for the Warriors Saturday, with freshman Katie King (Barkamsted) claiming the 50 breaststroke (32.56) for the fourth time this year in as many attempts. King also produced the fastest time in the 200 individual medley (2:24.32) while swimming on an exhibition basis.

Additional firsts were turned in by senior Stephanie O'Kelly (Westport) in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.67), juniors Becky Odgers (Shelton) in the 1,650 freestyle (19:10.00) and Michelle Schapp (Torrington) in the 100 backstroke (1:04.64), and sophomores Abby Arisco (Wallingford) in the 500 freestyle (5:48.99) and Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) in the 50 backstroke (30.92).

The 200 medley relay opened the meet by going 1-2, with Schapp, Katie King, junior Colleen King (Barkamsted) and Macaire Jones combining on the winning time of 1:59.83. Swimming on an exhibition basis, the 400 freestyle relay compiled the fastest time (4:00.59). O'Kelly, and juniors Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia, NY), Marissa Colley (East Haven) and Odgers participated in that relay.

In the meet, Eastern took the top two spots in the 200 medley relay, 50 and 100 breaststroke, 50 and 500 freestyle andn 100 backstroke and the first three places in the 100 freestyle. On an exhibition basis, the Warriors also had the fastest two times in the 200 individual medley.

Macaire Jones topped Eastern with 18 points in two individual events, with Arisco, O'Kelly and Smoragiewicz collecting 13 points each with a first and second place outcome, and Odgers 11 points.

Eastern hosts Roger Williams University Saturday at noon in the first of three home dual meets which close out the regular season.



Women's Basketball: Slow Start Costly

 reunion_72_9982.jpgPlayers and coaches from the 2003 team which qualified for the NCAA Division III FInal Four and reached the national championship game were recognized on their 10th Anniversary following Saturday's game against the University of Southern Maine


mccourtUSM72_9847.jpgFirst-half missed shots, turnovers keep Warriors from challenging USM

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Senior forwards Haley Jordan and Jordan Grant combined to outscore the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team in the first half and unbeaten University of Southern Maine coasted to its 17th straight win, 69-55, in a Little East Conference game Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Shannon McCourt shoots over Rebecca Knight of Southern Maine in the first half of Saturday's 69-55 Little East Conference loss. (Photo by Krysta Valerio)

Ranked 16th nationally, Southern Maine (17-0, 7-0 Little East) finished off the regular-season sweep of Eastern (5-12, 3-4 Little East), which had won its two previous LEC home games.

Eastern missed 18 of 22 shots in the first half and turned the ball over 11 times and found itself trailing by 19, 35-16, at the break. Leading by three, Southern Maine outscored Eastern 24-5 over 13 minutes of the first half to take its largest lead of the half, 35-13, with 70 seconds left.

Jordan had 11 points and Grant ten in the first half for Southern Maine, with Jordan connecting on all three of the three-pointers she attempted in the game. The pair led the Huskies with 18 points each in the game, combining on 13-of-18 field goal shooting. Senior guard Nicole Garland added 14 points (four three-pointers) and seven rebounds and junior guard Erin McNamara  contributed 11 points and four steals for USM, which got all but six points from its starters and never trailed in the game.

Sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) of Eastern led both teams with 22 points, but was held scoreless over the first ten minutes and totaled 16 of her points with Eastern out of contention in the second half. Freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) followed McCourt with 11 points and matched her with eight rebounds. Freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) of Eastern led all players in the game with a collegiate-high 11 rebounds, giving her 21 boards in the last two games.

Eastern visits Keene State College Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.


M-Basketball: Warriors Pull Away, 87-71

Fifty-one point second half carries them to LEC win over So. Maine


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) tied his career high with 17 points and grabbed a career-high ten rebounds to pace six double-digit scorers when the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team avenged its only Little East Conference loss of the season with an 87-71 victory over the University of Southern Maine Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right Tyler Hundley was perfect on eight free throw attempts en route to a game-high 17 points in Saturday's 87-71 Little East Conference victory over the University of Southern Maine at Geissler Gym. (Photo by Krysta Valerio).

With Eastern (12-5, 6-1 Little East) trailing by five at halftime, junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) ignited a 51-point second half with 11 points after failing to score in the first half - hitting all three of his three-point field goals - as the Warriors pulled away for their fifth straight win and sixth straight conference triumph since dropping a 69-63 overtime decision at Southern Maine (10-7, 5-2 Little East) in the conference opener for both teams Dec. 1.

Last year's LEC regular-season and tournament champion, Eastern remains in a tie at the top of the conference with Rhode Island College, which edged homestanding Plymouth State University Saturday, 57-54. Southern Maine falls into a two-way tie for third place with Keene State College, which routed visiting Massachusetts Dartmouth, 89-60 Saturday.

Both Eastern and Southern Maine shot over 50 percent from the floor in the first half and combined on just seven turnovers, but the Huskies nailed eight of 14 three-pointers to post a 41-36 halftime edge. The Warriors outscored USM 19-5 over the first seven minutes of the second half, however, to build an 11-point, 57-46 advantage. The lead never dipped below nine thereafter.

robitailleUSM72_0058.jpgWhile Southern Maine was missing four shots and turning the ball over twice on six possessions over three minutes in the second half, the Warriors scored ten straight points, capped by a conventional three-point play by sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) and Salzillo's first three-point field goal that made it 57-46 with 12:36 left.

At left: Chris Robitaille goes up for two of his 16 points in the first half of Saturday's win over Southern Maine. (Photo by Krysta Valerio)

In outscoring Southern Maine by 21 points in the second half, Eastern shot 68.0 percent and the Huskies only 24.4. In addition to Salzillo's 11 second-half points, Hundley hit six free throws and grabbed nine rebounds in the second half, with senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) adding eight points each on 6-for-7 field goals.
 Senior forward Sean Bergeron and junior forward James Odneal combined for 26 points for USM in the first half, each sinking five of eight field goals. Averaging less than one three-pointer per game this year, Bergeron tossed in four over the first 20 minutes.

Behind Hundley, Robitaille finished with 16 points (7-for-9 from the floor) and seven rebounds in the game, junior guard Mike Garrow (Terryville) 15 points (6-for-8 from the floor) and six rebounds, Ives 12 points and Salzillo and freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) 11 points each. Hundley was perfect in the game with three field goals (all three-pointers) on three attempts and was 8-for-8 from the foul line. He also blocked two shots.

Bergeron and Odneal both had 16 points for Southern Maine - but a total of only six came in the second half  -- with Bergeron adding a game-high ten rebounds. Junior guard Conor Sullivan added 13 points and junior guard Brandon Graham came off the bench for 13 points - all in a stretch of three minutes with his team trailing by 20 in the final four minutes.

Eastern visits Keene State College Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

The Aconfora Report: Saturday vs. USM

By Nicholas Aconfora/Sports Information Staff



At left: Brianna Leonard

After they split the double-header at Western, the Warriors return home on Saturday to take on Southern Maine in two huge Little East Conference matchups. Both Husky teams come in on top of the conference, although the men are tied with Eastern and Rhode Island College for first place with a record of 5-1 in the conference. The Huskies come off a sweep on Tuesday against UMass Boston. Although both teams come in hot, there's nothing harder than coming into a packed Francis E. Geissler to take on the Warriors where they are 8-4 combined at home.

 The women come off a loss to Western on Tuesday night where it was the freshmen who grabbed the headlines. Brianna Leonard and Jill Ritrosky combined for 30 points and 20 rebounds in a twelve point loss to the Colonials. Most Warrior fans figured with a performance like that, they should have had an easy win, but it was the sophomores or as many know them, the veterans, of this team who couldn't get the job done. Kristina Forsman and Shannon McCourt combined for 9 points where they shot 1 percent  from the field.

In this game, the Warriors need to come together and all score the basketball. If they come out like they did against UMass Dartmouth in the second half, the Warriors can stick with the Huskies. The Huskies have four players who average double digits in scoring. It all starts with the forwards Rebecca Knight and Jordan Grant, who combine for about 25 points and 16 rebounds a game. Everyone in the conference knows the size issues for the Warriors in the post, so it is guaranteed that they Huskies exploit that with their forwards in the beginning of the game.

Eastern's guards also have their hands full as they have to defend Nicole Garland, who averages 12.5 points per game. This game could go either way. If Eastern comes out to play and everyone shows up ready, they'll make this a tough game for the Huskies and possibly hand them their first loss. Although it could also go bad for the Warriors if they turn the ball over early and lose focus.

 Key for USM - Pressure the Warriors early in the game to cause as many turnovers as possible. Eastern has a tendency to lose focus if it struggles early on in the game.

 Key for ECSU - Eastern must play a perfect game. They need to defend to the best of their ability, and all players need to step up offensively. If some things go their way, Eastern can run away with a win.



At left: Chris Robitaille

The men came off yet another win as they beat Western on Tuesday night on the road. Although Brian Salzillo only knocked down one three-pointer, he only shot four from beyond the arc, so look for him to come out firing in this game. Some people forget that when Eastern lost to the Huskies early on in the season in its first conference game, no one knew who Trachone Preston was. Well the Huskies are in for a surprise as the Warriors have found their player of the future. Preston just scored 16 points on Tuesday and as of now, looks like he'll become the LEC rookie of the year. There's also Mike Garrow who keeps getting better as the season progresses. Chris Robitaille will look to have another one of his impressive games in the post as he'll matchup with James Odneal. Odneal averages right around 10 points per game and has an inch on Robitaille, but as we all know, they doesn't make a difference to Robitaille as he can defend and go up against players bigger than him.

It's going to be guards Alex Kee and Conor Sullivan that Eastern will have to focus on. Kee and Sullivan combine for about 30 points a game. Sullivan is a bigger guard at 6-3 so look for players such as Tyler Hundley and Garrow to try and lock down the guard. This game could end up being the difference at the end of the season if these teams both stay on top. I expect this to come down to a final shot in the final minute.

Key for USM - Make sure that Robitaille doesn't get his shots easily down in the paint. If Robitaille struggles, the Huskies can defend the perimeter closer without having to worry.

Key for ECSU - Attack the basket and knock down the three ball. Coach Bill Geitner has said it before, when they knock down their shots, they're extremely hard to beat. If the Warriors can establish their inside and out game, they'll get the win in this one.


M-Basketball: Warriors Stay Hot, 69-56

Balance, defense lead them to fifth straight conference win, 69-56

yarborough_72_6757.jpg DANBURY, Conn. --  Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) and sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) gave the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team a first-half lift and the Warriors used a 10-1 run midway through the second half to post a 69-56 Little East Conference victory over Western Connecticut State University Tuesday night at the Feldman Arena.

At left: Brandon Yarborough

Salzillo and Yarborough each scored six points off the bench in the first half as Eastern (11-5, 5-1 Little East) took the lead in the first minute and never trailed on the way to its third win in the last four contests against Western (4-11, 2-4 Little East). The Colonials dropped to 1-7 at home while the Warriors improved to 5-2 on their opponents' home court.

Eastern, Rhode Island College and the University of Southern Maine maintained a share of the top spot in the conference with victories Tuesday, Rhode Island College surviving against winless UMass Dartmouth, 70-64, on the road and Southern Maine edging visiting UMass Boston, 64-58.

While Western was missing six straight shots and turning the ball over four times on ten possessions, Eastern rattled off  eight straight points in a 10-1 spurt, holding the Colonials off the board for five minutes to move out to a 51-37, 14-point lead on a jumper by Salzillo with eight minutes left.

Ranked second nationally in three-point field goals per game (4+), Salzillo connected on his first attempt from long distance to give Eastern an eight-point lead with 8:31 left. It was the only three-pointer of the game for Salzillo, who has collected at least one in 21 straight games dating back to last season.

Western guard Phil Starks, the top freshman scorer in the LEC with a 12.4 average, was held to one three-pointer and three points until he tossed in two from long range in the final 74 seconds and his team trailing by 19. He finished with nine points.

Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) and freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) led all players in the game with 16 points each for Eastern, with Robitaille amassing his third double-double in the last five games with a team-high 11 rebounds.  Each had three points in the 10-1 run, with senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) sinking two free throws in that stretch and finishing with 11 points.

Ives converted all six of his free throws for Eastern to improve his season mark to .871 and help the Warriors finish 21-for-28 in that department and Preston added four steals to improve his team-high total to 18.

Eastern hosts the University of Southern Maine Saturday at 3 p.m. The Warriors opened their conference season with a 69-63 overtime loss at Southern Maine.



Wednesday: Eastern Athletics Weekly


all3 hosts_72dpi_1042.jpgEastern Athletics Weekly returns to its regular one-hour format Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m., originating from the Sports Center with hosts Nick Aconfora, Nick Minutelli and Sean Harrison. Tuesday's night's Little East Conference games against Western Connecticut State University will be a topic of conversation, along with this Saturday's LEC home doubleheader against the University of Southern Maine. Swimming and track & field are also on the agenda, as are the NFL playoffs. The show airs live on and is also archived immediately upon the conclusion of the live broadcast.

W-Basketball: Freshmen Shine in Loss

Ritrosky, Leonard combine for 30 points, 20 rebounds against Western

ritrosky_72_9226.jpgDANBURY, Conn. --  Freshman forward Sha'Quira Palmer came off the bench to double to season scoring average with a team-high 17 points and the Western Connecticut State University women's basketball team never trailed in a 60-48 Little East Conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Tuesday night at Feldman Arena.

At left: Jill Ritrosky

A winner of its previous three conference games, Eastern (5-11, 3-4 Little East) falls into a two-way tie for fifth place in the conference with its sixth straight loss at the hands of Western (11-5, 4-2 Little East), which moves into a three-way tie for second place in the conference behind unbeaten LEC leader University of Southern Maine.

Averaging just under eight points per game this year, Palmer collected seven of her points from the free throw line (in ten tries) and also topped her team with seven rebounds.

Trailing by six at halftime after shooting over 50 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes, Eastern shot just 29.4 percent from the floor in the second half, finishing under 40 percent from the floor in the game for the tenth time this year.

The Warriors stayed within striking distance throughout the second half but were unable to cut the deficit to single digits after the hosts upped the margin to ten nine minutes into the second half.

Freshmen forwards Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) and Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) combined for 30 points and 20 rebounds to pace Eastern. Ritrosky totaled a season-high 18 points and finished with her second double-double in four games with a game-high ten rebounds. Leonard recorded her first double-double with 12 points and a career-high ten rebounds.

Eastern sophomore scoring leaders Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) and Kristina Forsman (Newington) combined for only nine points on 4-for-21 shooting from the floor. Forsman handed out six assists, however, and added four steals in 40 minutes and McCourt pulled down six rebounds.

Eastern limited Western scoring leader Caroline Brasa to five points. Carly Murphy followed Palmer with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds to help the Colonials to their fourth straight win with their seventh home triumph in nine contests. Eastern fells to 2-8 this season away from home.

Eastern hosts the University of Southern Maine Saturday at 1 p.m.


The Aconfora Report: Hoop at WestConn

By Nicholas Aconfora/Sports Information Staff



At left: Shannon McCourt

After three straight conference wins, the Warriors (5-10, 3-2 LEC) look to stay hot as they take on their in-state rival, Western Connecticut. Western comes into the game 10-5,  3-2 in the conference. The Colonoials have won three straight games overall and come in hot to play the Warriors in Danbury. Guard Caroline Brasa has led the Colonials in points per game with 13.3 while other guards Jackie Zilnicki and Carly Murphy add around 10 points per game. Knowing this, it could be the game for Shannon McCourt to dominate in the paint with her short fade-away and mid-range jumper. Eastern must rely on strong defense from its guards as Brasa, Zilnicki and Murphy will look to score often. I see this game turning out to be extremely close throughout and the team who plays better defensively will come out with a win.

 Key for WestConn - Attack the basket all game long. Although they don't have much size, either does Eastern. The guards for the Colonials must get players like McCourt and Jill Ritrosky in foul trouble and get to the line as much as they can.

Key for Eastern - Like I said above, they need to have great defense coming from the guard position. If McCourt can find a way to get hot early on, they Warriors will be in good shape.


salzillo_tie_72_2785.jpgAt left: Brian Salzillo

Besides a 1-3 record in two tournaments over this winter intersession, the Warriors have been consistent all season long. Take away those three four games, they're 9-2. They come into the game at 10-5, 4-1 in the conference only losing to Southern Maine in their LEC opener. Western comes into this game 4-10, which is a very disappointing season so far after losing its star Daquan Brooks. The most impressive part of the Colonials season thus far is their freshman Phil Starks. Starks is leading the team in points per game and shoots just about 40 percent from beyond the arc. Although Starks'  three point percentage is fairly good, it seems like there's no one better than Brian Salzillo. Prior to Saturday's four three's, Salzillo was already second in the nation (4.02) behind Jack Taylor of Grinnell College in three pointers made a game. Taylor was recently injured and could be out a while, which will give Salzillo a chance to take over the top spot. For this game, it would surprise me if Eastern didn't come away with an easy win on the road. The team is bigger, stronger, and more talented than this Western team which lost Brooks after last year.

 Key for WestConn - Get as many players involved offensively as you can. Starks can't be the only one scoring in this one, the Colonials need to step up and move the ball around on offense.

Key for Eastern - Work the ball inside to Chris Robitaille, who shouldn't have any trouble down in the paint and will look to have another monster game. 


M-Soccer: Seniors Honored at Banquet


seniorbanner_9718.jpgThe outgoing seniors of the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer program display their framed jerseys which they received at the program's annual year-end banquet Sunday afternoon at the Betty Tipton Room. From left: Jordan Munsell of Waterford, Cory Tobler of Portland, Bradley Fletcher of Middletown and Matt Furman of Montville. Missing is Jon DeCasanova. These seniors were members of teams which qualified for four straight NCAA tournaments, captured three Little East Conference regular-season and tournament titles and compiled an overall record of 62-17-6, 29-3-3 in conference regular season and playoff competition. This past fall's team finished 17-2-1, setting a program record for victories in a season, and winning both the LEC regular season and tournament titles.

M-Basketball Keeps it Together, 73-70

Warriors re-group against UMass Boston after 18-point lead evaporates

garrow_72_6844.jpgBOSTON - Junior forward Mike Garrow (Terrvyille) grabbed a rebound and scored on the other end to give the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team the lead for good with four minutes left and the Warriors hung on for a 73-70 Little East Conference victory over the University of Massachusetts Boston Saturday afternoon at the Clark Athletic Center.

At left: Mike Garrow

After coming up short the last three times it was involved in a game decided by four or less points, Eastern (10-5, 4-1 Little East)  re-grouped after blowing an 18-point first-half lead to corral its fourth straight conference win after an opening loss. The victory is the seventh straight for Eastern over UMass Boston (8-6, 2-3 Little East) on the Beacons' home court and seventh straight overall against UMB.

Eastern retains a share of the top spot in the conference with Rhode Island College and the University of Southern Maine, with Keene State College dropping a game back of the leaders with a 58-55 road loss to Rhode Island.

A winner of three in a row and four of its last five, Eastern roared to an 18-point lead 12 minutes into the game, but the hosts cut the gap to 12 by the half, and after trailing by 11 six minutes into the second half, put together a 14-2 run over four minutes that vaulted them into the first lead since the opening minute, 53-52, with ten minutes left.
A UMass free throw broke the final tie of the game with just over five minutes left, but the Beacons failed to capitalize on a chance to make it a three-point lead when they missed an inside shot off an Eastern turnover. Garrow rebounded the miss and took a return pass from freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) at the other end to put the Warriors in front for good, 62-61, with just over four minutes left. Preston later swished two free throws off a steal from senior guard Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) to make it 64-61.

In the final four minutes, Preston and Garrow combined on eight of ten free throws, and junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) applied the death blow with his fourth three-point field goal of the game with 2:16 left that expanded a one-point lead to four.

Eastern's 18-point first-half lead came largely due to the three-point marksmanship of  Salzillo and Preston, who combined to connect on six of seven three-pointers in the first half and fuel the team's torrid field goal mark of 65.4 percent. Each finished with four three-pointers, with Hundley chipping in two as the Warriors made good on ten of 20 attempts from long range.

Garrow shared game-high scoring honors with a season-high 23 points - tying his career high. He was 9-for-15 from the floor and shared team-high rebounding honors with senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton), both with six. Preston, last week's LEC Rookie-of-the-Week, doubled his season scoring average with 18 points, hitting five of seven field goals (4-for-5 from "three") and all four of his free throws. Salzillo had a three-pointer in his 20th game over two years and matched Preston with 18 points. Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) handed out a career-high seven assists.

UMass, which started two players standing 6-foot-9 inches tall, got 23 points from sophomore guard Vinny DeLucia and 14 points and a game-high seven rebounds off the bench from team scoring leader Rahshjeem Benson, a 6-foot-8 inch junior. Benson turned the ball over seven times, however, in 23 minutes.

On the season, Preston is shooting .519 from three-point range and Salzillo .442 with an average of 4.1 made per contest; Preston is shooting .795 from the foul line, Salzillo .842 and Ives .859; and Robitaille has sank .551 percent of his field goals.

Salzillo entered the game ranked second nationally in three-point field goal made per game (4.08) behind Grinnell sophomore Jack Taylor (6.25), who left his team's last game Wednesday after six minutes of play due to injury and did not play in his team's contest Saturday.

Eastern visits Western Connecticut State University in an LEC contest Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

W-Basketball Takes Fresh Approach

After being swept by UMB last year, Warriors turn to first-year players

leonard_72dpi_9213.jpgBOSTON --  Sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) ignited a 16-2 second-half run with a three-point field goal and capped it with an inside bucket as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team captured its third straight Little East Conference decision, 70-53, over the University of Massachusetts Boston Saturday afternoon at the Clark Athletic Center.

At left: Brianna Leonard: Big second half.

Leading by two points, Eastern (5-10, 3-2 Little East), Eastern outscored UMass Boston (10-5, 2-3 Little East) 16-2 over six-and-a-half minutes  to pull away to a 16-point, 54-38 lead. With the exception of Forsman's five points, the remaining 11 points in the span were scored by freshmen and came in the paint: Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) had five straight inside points - completing a three-point play with a free throw during the streak - while Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) had two hoops and Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) one.

Following their only field goal in that stretch, the Beacons missed seven shots and turned the ball over four times in 11 possessions while Eastern was scoring 13 consecutive points. The Eastern lead never dipped under 13 the rest of the way.

The story of the game was turnovers - Eastern's ability and UMass' inability to capitalize on them. The Warriors turned 18 UMB miscues into 24 points while the hosts converted 15 Eastern turnovers into only two points. And because of that, Eastern amassed its second-highest point total of the season and won away from home for only the second time in nine road contests.

Eastern junior forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) recorded her fourth double-double in six games with 20 points and 13 rebounds while Forsman put together her third straight double-digit game with 23 points - one shy of her career high. The pair combined to sink 16 of 35 field goals. Leonard added ten point - all in the second half. The trio combined to sink 20 of 41 field goals in the game.

In 25 minutes - her longest opportunity since mid-November -- Brooks added a career-high nine points. She was 2-for-2 from the floor and 5-for-6 from the line. Freshman guard Victoria Pfohl (Trumbull) missed all five of her shots but handed out a career-high seven assists.

Senior guard Teresa Pina, who torched Eastern for 32 points and nine rebounds in her team's 22-point win over Eastern on the final day of last year's regular season at the Clark Athletic Center, managed only six points - only two after the break - and five rebounds. Sophomore center Kristen Morrison, last year's LEC Rookie-of-the-Year, led her team with 17 points and nine rebounds and six-foot freshman Olivia Murphy  added 13 points and seven rebounds.

Eastern visits Western Connecticut State University in an LEC contest Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

W-Swim: Warriors Drops First Dual

In 50 breaststroke, Katie King gives Warriors only first-place finish


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Freshman Katie King (Barkhamsted) won the only event for the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team against Keene State College Saturday afternoon at the Sports Center in the Owls' 175-82 victory.

At right: The eight individuals to achieve All-Little East Conference status at last month's conference championships were officially presented their certificates before the meet by head coach Maureen Fahey (far left) and Director of Athletics, Dr. Jeff Konin (far right).

Eastern's (3-1) King won the 50 yard breaststroke in a time of 32.56 and also had the second-fastest time in the 100 individual medley (1:06.05).

 Keene (6-1) swimmers had the fastest times in all 12 individual events and both relays, going 1-2 in 12 events and 1-2-3 in three events. 

Seven different Keene swimmers recorded individual titles. Sophomore Diana Pimer won the 400 individual medley and 200 breaststroke and also posted the fastest time in the 100 individual medley on an exhibition basis. She also swam the  second leg of the winning 400 medley relay.

Junior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) touched the wall in third place in three events for Eastern: 400 individual medley (5:00.92), 50 freestyle (26.20) and 100 freestyle (56.92). Others recording third-place finishers were juniors Michelle Schapp (Torrington) in the 200 freestyle (2:05.26), Marissa Colley (East Haven) in the 200 backstroke (2:19.22) and Colleen King (Barkhamsted) in the 50 butterfly (29.28) and sophomore Abby Arisco (Wallingford) in the 200 butterfly (2:29.72).

Katie King, undefeated (3-0) in the 50 breaststroke this season, edged Keene freshman Corrina Nickerson by .02 at the finish in that event. King was this year's 100 breastsstroke winner last month at the Little East Conference Championships.

Sophomore Julie Trodden won the 200 and 500 freestyle and junior Alexis Houser claimed the 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly. Houser also contributed to the 200 freestyle relay which recorded the fastest time on an exhibition basis.

Eastern, which was competing officially for the first time in more than a month, visits the University of Saint Joseph (CT) Wednesday at 7 p.m.


The Aconfora Report: LEC Basketball

By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

Saturday, January 12

Little East Conference Basketball

at Boston


WOMEN -- 1 p.m.



At left: Victoria Pfohl


Eastern travels to Boston after its 67-40 non-conference loss at the University of Saint Joseph Thursday evening. Still, the Warriors have won their last two Little East Conference games while UMass has split its last two. Both teams enter play with 2-2 conference marks.

Like Eastern, the Beacons are a very young team in which a sophomore and freshman lead in scoring. Center Kirsten Morrison averages 14 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, which is just short of averaging a double-double. Most figure this is where all the power comes from in the paint, but the Beacons added another weapon this year in six-foot freshman Olivia Murphy, who averages just under 13 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.

Both Murphy and Morrison will cause a lot of problems for Eastern. As we know, it has been the size advantage other teams have over the Warriors that have hurt them so much. This trend will continue on Saturday unless the Warriors come out aggressive and strong crashing the boards.

Shannon McCourt was named Player-of-the-week in the LEC and must continue her hot streak to keep her team in this game, although some help from the bench would be nice. Look for Coach Bierly to put more trust into freshman Victoria Pfohl coming off the bench to knock down threes. Eastern will need to knock down its outside shots since it'll have trouble getting shots up in the paint with two six footers on the Beacons' side.

Despite the size discrepancy, however, Eastern has outrebounded its opponent by slim margin, but the Beacons show a +10 advantage in that category.

Although some may see this as a game the Beacons should take, I think Eastern will come ready to play and play its best in a hard fought, close game.

Key for UMass Boston - Work the ball inside as often as you can. The Beacons know they're going to have mismatches in the post throughout the entire game, so look for them to exploit that.

Key for Eastern - Crash the boards on every shot taken. If Eastern can stick with the Beacons in the rebounding department, it will be in good shape. Knock down all perimeter shots. The Warriors won't get to many good looks in the paint, so hitting shots from the outside will be the difference. 



 MEN -- 3 p.m.


At left: Joe Ives

The Warriors head to Boston after a solid +91-63 Little East Conference punch-out of UMass Dartmouth Tuesday night at Geissler Gymnasium that pulled them into a four-way tie for first place, one game ahead of UMass Boston.

 The Warriors and Beacons meet for the first time this season in an interesting game. UMass Boston is 8-5 and has beaten a few good teams at home where it is 5-0.

The Beacons have a variety of players from different states, a few all the way from California, but their star comes from right down the road. Junior forward Rahshjeem Benson, from Boston, stands 6-8 and averages just under 14 points and 10 rebounds a game. The Beacons are sure to exploit the talented big man's offensive abilities throughout the game. Although Eastern's Chris Robitaille, coming off a career-high 25-point performance Tuesday, is always up for a challenge. Robitaille stands at 6-5, but has the strength to defend players taller. As much as everyone will love to watch that matchup in the post, look for the Warrior guards to do a lot of work offensively. Joe Ives and Trachone Preston along with pure shooter Brian Salzillo will combine for a lot of Eastern's points. Eastern must keep a close eye on Vinny DeLucia who averages ten points a game.

 If the Beacons can establish a post game early on, it will leave DeLucia open from three, where he shoots 42 percent on the year (53 percent in the conference).

Like we all know, records don't mean anything in this conference. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day, so look for this one to be close.

Key for UMass Boston - Establish a game in the post with Benson early on. This will give Eastern trouble defensively inside and out as the Beacon guards will knock down their jumpers.

Key for Eastern - Play strong defense and look for you guards to come up big. Salzillo will need to continue shooting the ball well as Ives and Preston run the offense and get others and themselves open often. 



M-Basketball: Supporing Cancer Fight

Program involved in NABC's Suits and Sneakers weekend Jan. 26 

geitner_72cancer_6740.jpgcoachesvscancerlogo66629-1.gifWILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- During his team's game against Rhode Island College, Eastern Connecticut State University head men's basketball coach Bill Geitner will be one of more than 4,000 college and high school basketball coaches across the United States making an unusual fashion statement, when he wears sneakers with his game attire to support the Coaches vs. Cancer® program during the 10th Annual Suits & Sneakers weekend.

At left: During the January 26 game against Rhode Island College, head coach Bill Geitner will swap his Nunn Bush for Nike to support the fight against cancer.

"The Eastern Connecticut men's basketball program is proud to participate in this year's Coaches vs. Cancer event in an effort to raise awareness and much needed funds to help battle this disease that has affected so many families," offered Geitner.

The Little East Conference contest against Rhode Island College is slated for Saturday, Jan. 26 at 3 p.m. at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. It will RIC's first appearance at Geissler Gym since dropping an 82-60 decision to Eastern in the championship game of the 2012 LEC tournament last Feb. 25.

By wearing sneakers, participating coaches help raise awareness about cancer and the importance that nutrition and physical activity play in reducing one's risk of the disease. Additionally, this weekend helps promote the American Cancer Society as a place for people facing cancer to turn for free information, day-to-day help, and emotional support.

A collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Coaches vs. Cancer program brings coaches, teams and fans together to raise awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society by empowering basketball and other athletic coaches to save lives from cancer by leveraging their community leadership to support the Society. The funds raised by coach Geitner and others help the American Cancer Society save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well and get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back against this disease.

Fans will also be able to join the effort to support the American Cancer Society. By texting the word "Coach" to 20222 any time between Jan. 21 and April 9, fans can donate $5 to Coaches vs. Cancer - and when they do, they will be entered for a chance to win exclusive prizes, like a free trip to the 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic or autographed items from a prestigious coach. Look for more information on, or to start your own Suits and Sneakers event, contact Katy Meagher at

About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end cancer for good. As a global grassroots force of three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping you stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early, helping you get well by being there for you during and after a diagnosis, by finding cures through groundbreaking discovery and fighting back through public policy. As the nation's largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.8 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, an estimated 13.7 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit


W-Basketball: Road Tripping, 67-40

At USJ, Warriors continue to falter away from Geissler Gym
Box score.HTM
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -  Looking to run its winning streak to three in a row, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team instead dropped its seventh road game in eight tries this year in a 67-40 non-conference decision to the University of Saint Joseph Thursday night at the O'Connell Center.

At right: Jill Ritrosky

Devon Diliberto scored a game-high 16 points for Saint Joseph (7-2), which scored the first seven points. Down by 13 in the first half, Eastern (4-10) scored eight of the next nine points to cut the gap to six, 28-22, at halftime. St. Joseph countered by scoring ten of the first 11 points of the second half -- getting all of those points from two players -- to take control. Heather Framski tossed in seven of those points and Diliberto canned a three-point field goal in fuel that run.

Sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) led Eastern with 15 points and freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) had eight points six coming in the late first-half run -- and a game-high 13 rebounds. The team's other three starters shot just 5-for-26 from the floor and the Warriors received only six points and two rebounds from its bench in 50 minutes.

Eastern shot just 28.8 percent from the floor in the game -- including 1-for-12 from three-point range -- and was outrebounded 44-31 as it was held to its lowest point total of the year. The Blue Jays collected 12 more second-chance points than Eastern.

Heather Framski and 13 points and Mary Hyde had 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals for the hosts.

A winner of two straight Little East Conference games, Eastern visits Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Clark Athletic Center.  

Swimming: Flex Time in Florida


one_mile_swim72.jpgMembers of the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team psych themselves up for the one mile ocean swim during the team's winter training session in Florida this past week. The Warriors wrapped up their week-long stay by competing in the Bob Mowerson Meet at the Ft. Lauderdale Aquatics Complex. Eastern returns to official competition for the first time in over a month Saturday against Keene State College ( at the Sports Center pool at 1 p.m. To date, the Warriors have won all three of their dual meets, captured the season-opening Blue Jay Pentathlon, placed second in the Little East Conference Championships, and dominated action in the Massachusetts Dartmouth non-scoring invitational.  Eastern competes at home in four of its final six dual meets of the season before participating in the NEISDA Division II-III Championships Feb. 8-10 at White River Junction, VT. Recordbreakers through the first half of the season include junior Michelle Schapp in the 100 yard backstroke (1:01.45) and freshman Katie King in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.32).

M-Basketball: Eastern Pounds Corsairs

Robitaille has 25 points and ten rebounds in 91-63 LEC victory over UMD


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) had a career-high 25 points and recorded his fourth double-double of the year with ten rebounds as the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team routed the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 91-63, Tuesday night in a Little East Conference game at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

A winner of three of its last four, Eastern (9-5, 3-1 Little East) downed UMass Dartmouth (2-10, 0-4 Little East) for the seventh straight time.

At right: Brian Salzillo shoots over the UMD defense in Tuesday's Little East victory.

Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven), ranked fourth nationally in three-point field goals made per game (just under four), connected on six three-pointers (on nine tries) - his fourth game of six or more this year -- for the Warriors, who canned 7-of-15 from long range. As a team, the Warriors rank seventh nationally in three-point field goal percentage.

Salzillo, who has at least one three-pointer in his last 19 straight games, finished with 20 points and junior forward  Mike Garrow (Terrvylle) had 11 points.

Robitaille helped Eastern to a 55.9 shooting percentage by converting ten of 14 attempts from the floor.

Freshmen Kevin Luemene (Stamford) and Michael-Thomas Sciro (Westerly, RI) recorded their first collegiate points with four and three points, respectively.

With the win, Eastern moves into a four-way tie for first place in the conference.

Last year' conference regular-season and tournament champion, Eastern visits Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 3 p.m. in a conference game.

W-Basketball: Warriors Rally Past UMD

Eastern overcomes 11-point halftime deficit to win in overtime, 54-51


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team erased an 11-point halftime deficit and sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) scored eight of the team's ten points in overtime with six free throws and a perimeter basket as the Warriors ended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's seven-game winning streak with a 54-51 Little East Conference victory Tuesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Kristina Forsman saved eight of her ten game points for overtime in Tuesday's LEC victory over UMass Dartmouth.

The conference win is the second straight for Eastern (4-9, 2-2 Little East) while UMass Dartmouth (10-2, 3-1 Little East) - off to its best start in program history -- lost for the first time in four conference games. The Corsairs dropped into a two-way tie for second place in the conference behind undefeated University of Southern Maine. Eastern is one of three teams sharing fourth place.

Eastern never trailed after taking its first lead of the game with 2:20 left on a pair of free throws from freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA), but 6-foot-1 inch senior forward Colleen Moriarty of UMass tied the game with a turnaround bucket in the paint with ten seconds left in regulation. Following a timeout, Eastern inbounded at halfcourt with 4.2 seconds left with a chance to win in regulation, but the Warriors turned the ball over and UMass sophomore guard Kelsey Garrity  nearly converted a two-on-one break, but the ball would not drop as the horn ending regulation sounded.

The Warriors scored the first six points of overtime on two free throws each from Forsman and Ritrosky and a jump shot from the top of the key from Forsman that made it 50-44 with 1:48 left.

Ritrosky tied her season high with 14 points and pulled down a season-high 15 rebounds. Freshman forward Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) got Eastern back in contention in the second half by scoring eight of her ten points and pulling down seven of her nine rebounds. Sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) added 11 points and 13 rebounds  for her fourth double-double of the season. Forsman had ten points, four rebounds and four assists.

Leading by nine with 12 minutes left, the Corsairs went scoreless from the floor on 12 tries (0-for-6 from three) and the Warriors went on an 8-0 run ignited by Leonard's three-point play to cut the gap to one with 5:25 left. Later, they took their first lead, 42-40 on an inside bucket by Ritrosky with 1:44 remaining in regulation.

UMass missed its first 24 three-point field goals before freshman forward  Colleen Kane cut a six-point Eastern lead to three with 42 seconds left in overtime with her team's only three-pointer in 26 attempts.

Moriarty led the Corsairs with 12 points and six rebounds before fouling out with  2:52 left in overtime and her team trailing by two points.

Eastern visits Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 1 p.m. in a conference game.


The Aconfora Report: M-Basketball

By Nicholas Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

Eshield72dpi.jpgFollowing an exciting win over Plymouth State, Eastern (8-5, 2-1 conference) looks to improve its conference record to 3-1 with a win over UMass Dartmouth (2-9, 0-3 conference) Tuesday night.

Tuesday at noon -- Eastern Athletics Weekly with head coach Bill Geitner and Mike Garrow.

Brian Salzillo was 4th in the nation with three point field goals per game with 3.9 entering Saturday's game. Salzillo didn't disappoint as he hit four three pointers. Salzillo will look to stay hot in this one as he'll be tested with a few talented guards on the Corsairs side.

Mike Rotando and John Genkos both average around 14 points per game for UMass Dartmouth. Genkos shoots 45 percent  from beyond the arc and will likely be trading threes with Salzillo during this one.

The most interesting matchup of the day will be Chris Robitaille and Alex Rodrigues. Rodrigues, the 6-7 sophomore, averages just under 11 points per game and has strong offensive game down in the post where he does all of his work. Robitialle, just 2 inches shorter, will cause problems for Rodrigues as Robitaille has for many players in the post this season.

I don't believe that Eastern will have many problems in this one as it should come away with a win. Although, every one of these conference games end up coming down to just a few points.

 Key for UMass Dartmouth - The Corsairs must work the in and out game with Rodrigues. If Rodrigues has a presence in the post, it will open up plenty of open jumpers from the outside.

Key for Eastern - Get Mike Garrow involved early and often. Garrow had an off-game on Saturday vs. the Panthers and will look to get back on track during this one. He should have plenty of mismatches throughout, so look for him to take advantage. 

The Aconfora Report: W-Basketball

By Nicholas Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

Eshield72dpi.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Tuesday night against UMass Dartmouth, the Warriors head into their second conference game over this year's winter intersession following win Plymouth State University Saturday.

Tuesday at noon -- Eastern Athletics Weekly with head coach Denise Bierly and Shannon McCourt.

The Corsairs are a very talented team this season judging by their record. UMass Dartmouth is 10-1, 3-0 conference on the season, which looks as if it will be their best season in years. UMass has had three straight losing seasons, its worst in the 08-09 campaign where they went 3-23.  

Eastern comes into the game 3-9 overall, 1-2 conference.

This game has two different storylines as the Warriors look to improve with a young inexperienced team, and the Corsairs look to stay hot as they're looking for a regular season conference title. They are led by 6-1 senior forward Colleen Moriarty who is averaging an outstanding 17.5 points a game, which puts her on top in the LEC for scoring. With her strong post game, Moriarty is sure to have a big game in this one. She is shooting just over 50% from the field on the season, not to mention all her points come inside the paint as she has not taken a three all season. Does this sound familiar?

Well if you're on the Eastern side, Shannon McCourt is the same player. McCourt, last week's LEC Player-of-the-Week, is shooting 45 percent from the field without taking a three as all of her buckets come from inside in the three point line and down in the paint. Moriarty has a height advantage over McCourt, but it should still be an interesting matchup. The Corsairs may have only one loss, but I see Eastern making this a very competitive and close game.

 Key for UMass - Control the tempo of the game. If the Corsairs can play the game they want and play at their own tempo, they'll leave the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium with an easy win.

 Key for Eastern - Share the ball and find multiple options for scoring. If Eastern is able to distribute the ball to more than two or three players, it will have a balanced day scoring which could lead to a close game or possibly even a win over the best team in the conference. 

Basketball: Two Net Little East Honors

McCourt is women's Player of Week, Preston is men's Rookie of Week


McCourt (far left), Preston

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Two Eastern Connecticut State University basketball players have been recognized in the Little East Conference awards program for the week ending Jan. 6.

In the sixth report of the year, women's basketball sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) was recognized as the conference's Player-of-the-Week for the first time in her career, and men's basketball freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) was recognized for the first time in his career as the conference's Rookie-of-the-Week.

McCourt was named the conference's Rookie-of-the-Week in back-to-back weeks a year ago en route to earning a spot on the LEC All-Rookie Team at the conclusion of the season. She becomes the first Eastern women's basketball player to earn a weekly award this season.

Preston becomes the second men's player recognized this season - following Player-of-the-Week Chris Robitaille (Canton) Nov. 26 - and becomes the program's first Rookie-of-the-Week since Jamie Kohn in February of 2010.

In three games this past week, the 5-foot-11 inch McCourt averaged a double-double with 18.7 points and 13 rebounds per game to help Eastern (3-9 overall, 1-2 Little East) post a 1-2 mark. She connected on 52 percent (27-for-52) of her attempts from the field. McCourt was named to the Springfield College All-Tournament team after averaging 18 points and 11.5 rebounds against Bridgewater State and Swarthmore. On Jan. 5, she poured in 20 points and pulled in 16 rebounds to power the Warriors to their first Little East win of the campaign, defeating Plymouth State. McCourt also contributed on the defensive end of the court with four steals and a block.

McCourt ranks second in the LEC in scoring (14.7) and third in rebounding (9.6), seventh in field goal percentage (.450) and tied for first in defensive rebounds (7.3).

The 5-foot- 9 inch Preston averaged 14.4 points and 2.6 steals per game to help Eastern  (8-5 overall, 2-1 Little East) record wins in two of its last five games - the first four on the road. A starter in each of his five appearances, Preston reached double figures four times. On Dec. 22, Preston poured in a career-high 24 points, including five triples, and handed out five assists at Messiah. On Jan 5, he registered 16 points, pulled in three rebounds, and dished out three helpers in a Little East victory over Plymouth State.  

Preston is one of five double-digit scorers for the Warriors, averaging 10.2 points - second among freshmen in the conference. He also leads the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.511) and tops all conference rookies with an. .806 free throw percentage (seventh overall). He is second among freshman in three-point field goals per game (1.8), eighth overall.

Eastern hosts Massachusetts Dartmouth in a Little East doubleheader Tuesday. The women play at 5:30 and the men at 7:30 p.m.


W-Basketball: Warriors Rout PSU

Back at home, Eastern uses two scoring streaks to post 66-44 LEC win


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) recorded her 15th career double-double in two years with game-highs of 20 points and 16 rebounds and freshman guard Victoria Pfohl (Trumbull) came off the bench for a career-high 12 points as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team won its first Little East Conference game of the year with a 66-44 victory over Plymouth State University Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Victoria Pfohl

Returning home after six straight road games, Eastern (3-9, 1-2 Little East) ended a four-game losing streak with its 19th victory over Plymouth (1-10, 0-3 Little East) in the last 20 decisions.

McCourt, named to the all-tournament team earlier this week at Springfield College, was 10-for-24 from the floor and also came up with four steals en route to her second double-double in the last three games.

Eastern never trailed in the game after scoring the first six points, scoring 24 points off Plymouth's 23 turnovers and using 17 offensive rebounds to score 21 points over 40 minutes.

Eastern used a run of 11 straight points in the first half to build a 14-point lead and another streak of 12 straight after Plymouth had cut a 13-point deficit to five eight minutes into the second half to expand the lead to 17 with eight minutes left.

After senior Katie Seraikas dropped in her only three-pointer of the game to pull Plymouth to within three points eight minutes into the game, the Panthers missed seven straight shots as the Warriors scored 11 straight to move out to 14-point, 24-10 lead with seven minutes left. Pfohl and classmate Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) combined for the first nine points of that run, which was capped by sophomore guard Taylor McBride's (Willimantic) driving layup off a Plymouth turnover.

Brooks hit one of two free throws to ignite the first-half run, then grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back to make it 16-10. Pfohl then pulled down a rebound and swished a three-pointer on the other end of the floor, sank one of two free throws following a Panther turnover moments later, then stole the ball and scored again to make it 22-10 with just over seven minutes left in the first half.

In Eastern's 12-0 run which expanded its least to an insurmountable 17-point  with eight minutes left, McCourt contributed two jumpers and Pfohl her third three-point field goal of the game. On eight possessions over that five-minute span, Plymouth turned the ball over four straight times, then missed four straight shots.

Junior Meghan Faretra led Plymouth with ten points and Seraikas led her team with six rebounds.

Eastern hosts Massachusetts Dartmouth Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in a Little East Conference game.

Men's Basketball Denies Plymouth

Warriors score seven straight in final minutes to post 73-63 win


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) put the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team in front for good with six minutes left by canning a three-point field goal, then turning a steal into a driving layup to spark a run of seven straight points as the Warriors  defeated Plymouth State University for a sixth straight time with a 73-63 Little East Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Brian Salzillo

Returning home for the first time since December 6, Eastern (8-5, 2-1 Little East) overcoming a seven-point deficit eight minutes into the second half to capture its second straight conference win after an opening loss.  Plymouth (2-9, 1-2 Little East)  has dropped its last three.

Ranked fourth nationally with just under four three-point field goals made per game, Salzillo pulled the Warriors to within one, 55-54 with just over six minutes left, then stole the ball and converted a layup to give Eastern the lead for good, 56-55, with six minutes left. Senior guard Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) then connected on his only three-point field goal of the game off a Plymouth miss and senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) rebound and senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) drained two free throws to cap the 7-0 run and push Eastern into a 61-55 lead with four minutes left.

After building its seven-point lead, Plymouth was outscored 22-8 the rest of the way.

In 40 minutes, Robitaille led both teams with 19 points (8-for-1), eight rebounds and three blocks and also topped the Warriors with four assists. Salzillo, coming off an all-tournament showing at Franklin & Marshall at mid-week, had 17 points (11 in the second half) with the help of four three-point field goals that stretched his streak to 18 games with at least one basket from long distance. Freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) tossed in 16 points, adding two three-pointers and four free throws in four tries. Salzillo, Robitaille and Preston were  18-for-32 from the floor. Hundley added nine points and seven rebounds.

Five Plymouth players combined for all of the team's points. Sophomore Alex Burt led the way with 17 points, 13 in the second half, with junior Petey Skevas adding 13 points, five rebounds and six assists, senior Stephan Roberts 12 points and five rebounds and junior Mark MacGregor 11 points off the bench, nine in the second half.

After shooting 39.3 percent from the floor in the first half, Eastern countered with 56.5 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes. Ranked seventh nationally with a team three-point percentage of .424, Eastern was 8-for-25 (.320) from long range while Plymouth failed on 12 of 15 tries.

Eastern hosts Massachusetts Dartmouth Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in a Little East Conference game.

Baseball: Warriors Open at No. 24

Four-time national champs ranked highest among LEC institutions


Balowski (far left), Chamberlain

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. --  The Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team has been ranked No. 24 nationally in the 2013 ABCA/Collegiate Baseball Division III national pre-season poll.

A winner of 29 of 42 games last year, Eastern missed by one victory its 12th straight season of at least 30 wins and is one of three institutions ranked in the Top 30 poll which did not qualify for NCAA tournament play a year ago. The Warriors were seeded fourth in last year's Little East Conference tournament and dropped two in a row after opening with a victory.

Eastern was ranked No. 9 in the 2012 pre-season poll after coming off its 32nd  NCAA tournament in 36 years and remained among the top 25 teams in the Top 30 poll throughout the regular season. The Warriors were ranked third nationally in New England at the outset of the season and no lower than eighth through the regular season.

Among other Little East Conference institutions, 2012 LEC tournament champion University of Southern Maine is rated 26th in the pre-season poll and 2012 LEC runner-up Keene State College also received votes.

Last year against teams rated in this year's pre-season poll, Eastern defeated No. 1 Wheaton College (MA), 4-2, and No.16 Trinity College (CT), 11-1, and lost two No. 7 Kean University, 5-0, No. 22 Western New England University, 9-6, and twice to No. 26 University of Southern Maine, 4-2, 5-1, in a Little East doubleheader on the final day of the regular season.
Eastern, whose senior class last year consisted of two starting pitchers and the starting catcher, returns eight of last year's top nine hitters and five of seven pitchers who logged at least 30 innings. 

Among the most accomplished returning pitchers are senior lefty Tom Darby (Middletown, RI), junior righty Greg Porter (Mystic), and senior righties Matt Purnell (Stafford Springs) and senior righty Evan Chamberlain (Amston). Darby was 6-0 in 2012 with a 3.12 ERA, Porter 4-0 with a staff-best 1.52 ERA, Purnell 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA and Chamberlain 3-2 with a 3.04 ERA and three saves.

Among the starting returning position players are first-team All-New England senior first baseman Joe Balowski (Berlin), sophomore outfielder Adam Roderick (West Hartford), last year's LEC Rookie-of-the-Year, All-LEC junior shortstop Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA), senior centerfielder Mike Riemer (Ellington), and junior catcher/DH T.J. Larivee (Salem, MA). Balowski batted .371 last year with 94 total bases, Roderick .364 with 80 total bases, O'Connell .363 with 77 total bases and 101 assists, Riemer .324 with a .988 fielding percentage and Larivee .331.

Among the top newcomers are senior transfer outfielder Tyler Caserta (Stratford) and sophomore transfer catcher  Chuck Vogt (Windsor Locks).  After two seasons at Central Connecticut, Caserta batted .241 last spring at Keystone College, the top-seeded team in the NCAA Division III Mid-Atlantic Regional last year. Vogt batted .218 with 89 putouts and 50 assists last year at Keene State.

A 12-time NCAA regional champion since 1982 and four-time national champion, Eastern won regional titles five times in the first eight years of last decade, last claiming a national championship in 2002 with an 8-0 shutout of Marietta College in the championship round at Grand Chute, WI.

Eastern is scheduled to open its 45th season under head coach Bill Holowaty (1,382-515-6) March 2 at Hoboken, NJ against New Jersey City University at 11 a.m. and Stevens Tech at 2 p.m.

The Aconfora Report: Men's Basketball

by Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

Saturday vs. Plymouth State, 3 p.m./ Francis E. Geissler Gym


Game Program.pdf

Following a well-played 56-52 loss to host Franklin & Marshall at its New Year Tournament Thursday night, Eastern must re-energize quickly when it returns to conference action against Plymouth State University Saturday at 3 p.m. in its first home game since December 6.

At right: Trachone Preston

After sweeping the series last season, Eastern looks to continue its success against the Panthers in its first conference game since it had a huge win on the road over Bob Walsh and Rhode Island College.

The Warriors have been all about sharing the ball this season. The ball movement and off ball screens have made it easy for Eastern to get open shots throughout the game. More importantly, they are knocking down the majority of these shots. Eastern shot 65 percent from beyond the arc in a 20-point win over Salisbury University in the opening game of the New Year tournament Wednesday.

With four players who average double digits in scoring, and on who is only decimal points away from being a fifth, Eastern may have its most offensively-balanced team in many years.

On the other side, the Panthers are fairly balanced as they have three players scoring in double digits. Petey Skevas has been a quick and very talented offensive player all the way back to his days at Wethersfield High School in Connecticut. Skevas will likely try to penetrate to the basket in the beginning of the game to test out the defense of the Warriors. Skevas is quick, but he may be guarded by the freshman Trachone Preston, which would be a very intriguing matchup.

I don't see Eastern having many problems in this one, as the it will dump the ball down into the post often for Chris Robitaille to go to work.

Key for PSU - The Panthers will need to bring help on Robitaille in the post as he will most likely have advantages one on one all game. As important as it is to help on the big forward, the Panthers will need to shut down the three-point shooting of Eastern.

PSU X-Factor - #1 Kevin Eisenberg can knock down the three and I look for him to try to keep his team in the game if Skevas has any problems scoring early on.

Key for Eastern - Work the ball inside early and often. If Eastern can get a post game going, then it will open up its outside shooting throughout the game.

Eastern X-Factor - #31 Mike Garrow is never considered an x-factor, I just believe there is no one to guard him on the PSU side and he'll go off in this one. 


The Aconfora Report: Women's Basketball

By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

Saturday vs. Plymouth State, 1 p.m./ Francis E. Geissler Gym

Game Program.pdfleonard72_9267.jpg

It was a tough non-conference schedule this season for Eastern, but it looks to pick things back up as it heads into the bulk of the conference season.

At right: The ability to hang on to the basketball will be a key for the Warriors against Plymouth.

Eastern takes on Plymouth State University on Saturday at 1 p.m. at home in the first of many conference games to come. The Panthers are led by junior guard and team captain Krystin Corliss, who is averaging 14.1 points and just under 5 rebounds a game. Corliss and the Panthers played Lasell College Thursday night, where they sustained their eighth straight loss.

The Panthers are 0-2 in the conference after losing at defending regular season and tournament champion Rhode Island College and to UMass Dartmouth a week apart in early December.

PSU doesn't have anyone that will dominate in the post, which is a huge plus for Eastern as Shannon McCourt could play the type of game in which she is comfortable. McCourt was just named to the all-tournament team at the Springfield College Naismith Classic, even after her team lost both games. She was Eastern's go-to scorer and also led the team with rebounds.  Against Plymouth, Eastern will be looking for more help off the bench from the freshmen. Some stepped in during the tournament and knocked down a few shots. A productive, deep bench will be a vital part of this team improving throughout conference play. 

Key for PSU - Make sure Eastern perimeter shooters don't get hot. If the Panthers can keep Eastern from hitting threes or their mid-range jumpers it will take away a lot of their offensive game. The Warriors would in return rely on McCourt too much.

PSU X-Factor - F #21 Tiffany Lewis may only average just under 5 points a game, but look for her to get better shots close to the basket and help her team a lot offensively.
Keys for Eastern - Control the tempo and hold onto the ball. Something that it has been unable to do consistently this year. Those turnovers are turning into easy buckets for the opponents. If Eastern can hold onto the ball and control the tempo and play its game, it will win this game.

Keys for Eastern - Control the tempo and hold onto the ball. Something that it has been unable to do consistently this year. Those turnovers are turning into easy buckets for the opponents. If Eastern can hold onto the ball and control the tempo and play its game, it will win this game.

Eastern X-Factor - F #22 Jill Ritrosky can always be considered the difference in a game like this. The freshman is able to take pressure off McCourt to get better looks. When McCourt is guarded closely, Ritrosky is able to play her own game and score the basketball. Look for the freshman to have a huge impact in this game.


M-Basketball: Warriors Denied, 56-52

Against No. 17 F&M, they threaten over final minutes in title game

robitaille_72_6802.jpgLANCASTER, Pa.  - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team held homestanding Franklin & Marshall College without a field goal over the final 4:35 but couldn't capitalize on an opportunity to tie the game in the final 30 seconds in a 56-52 loss to the Diplomats in the championship game of the Sponaugle New Year Tournament Thursday night at the Mayser Center.

At left: Chris Robitaille

Coming off a 20-point win over Salisbury University in Wednesday's first round, Eastern  (7-5) cut a 12-point deficit to three with 34 seconds left against No. 17 nationally-ranked Franklin & Marshall (10-1). Down by53-50, Eastern came up with a steal but gave the ball right back, and the hosts sank three free throws over the final 22 seconds to withstand Eastern's rally.

Senior forward Chris Robitaille (Canton) recorded his second double-double of the season for Eastern with 17 points (7-for-11 from the floor) and 11 rebounds, with freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) adding ten points. After sinking 15 of 23 three-pointers in Wednesday's 75-55 victory, Eastern missed 15 of 19 against the Diplomats.

Franklin & Marshall 6-foot-7 senior Hayk Gyokchyan was limited to four points and nine rebounds after firing in a career-high 40 in his team's first-round win over SUNY Plattsburgh Wednesday night, but the balanced Dips had four players in double figures.

Eastern led only once in the game -- by two points in the opening minute -- and the hosts took the lead for good with 11 minutes left in the first half on a Brandon Beckford layup off an Eastern turnover.

Eastern junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) represented Eastern on the all-tournament team. The three-point specialist was 9-for-18 from long range in the tournament,leading the club with 33 points. Salzillo also converted half of his two-point tries (3-for-6) and added five rebounds, two assists and two steals.  Salzillo, who has at least one three-pointer in his last 17 games dating back to last season, scored 23 first-half points and finished with a game-high 25 (7-for-10 from long range) against Salisbury.

In the tournament, junior guard Mike Garrow (Terrvyille) and Robitaille  each netted 21 points and senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) 20. All four players shot at least 50 percent from the floor. Robitaille grabbed a team-high 16 rebounds in two games and Hundley nine, with senior guard Joe Ives (Avon) chipping in six assists and canning all seven of his free throws.

Eastern, which lost four starters from last year's 20-game winner, has lost four of its five games this season by a total of 15 points, including two in overtime. A team which starts three seniors and two juniors, F&M is 5-0 this season in games decided by five or less points.

The contest was a matchup of program which went deep into last year's NCAA tournament before both lost to eventual national runnerup Cabrini College. The Warriors reached the Sweet 16 and the Dips advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time in three years in their 23rd NCAA tournament appearance.

Eastern returns to Little East Conference action Saturday, hosting Plymouth State University at 3 p.m. at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.


The Aconfora Report: Men's Basketball

By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff


An impressive performance by Eastern turned into a twenty point blowout win in the opening game of the Franklin & Marshall New Year Tournament vs. Salisbury University Wednesday night.

At right: Head Coach Bill Geitner

Although not many expected that Salisbury, which recently beat the No. 1 team in Division III, would get beat down, Eastern thought differently. The Warriors came out on fire as they shot 53.3 percent from the field and 65.2 percent from beyond the arc.

vs. FRANKLIN & MARSHALL -- 7 p.m.

It was a team effort as Head Coach Bill Geitner and his Warriors now head to the tournament championship Thursday night at 7 p.m.

Today Coach Geitner stated, "The guys played very (against Salisbury). I think they understood we were playing a very talented team and needed to be mentally and physically ready to compete for 40 minutes. Obviously, we shot the ball very well. This was due to unselfish play and making the extra pass to the open teammate. Defensively, we did a good job of guarding a very talented team."

Coach Geitner said it:  "unselfish play." Eastern has shared the wealth all year long and will need to continue to do so as they take on nationally ranked Franklin & Marshall on its home floor.

When asked about the game, Coach Geitner noted, "Franklin and Marshall is nationally-ranked and the most physical team we have faced. They have great size at every position. It is a great opportunity for us to compete against a perennial national power in a hostile environment. We will need to be very focused and ready for a physical game. This game will only help us as we prepare for our LEC competition."

Coach Geitner and his team have their hands as Franklin & Marshall dominated twice-beaten SUNY Plattsburgh, 71-55. The Warriors will have a close eye on Hayk Gyokchyan who averages 19.2 points per game and just scored forty against SUNY Plattsburgh. The 6-7, 225 pound senior forward is just one of the many big players on this Franklin & Marshall squad.

The Diplomats are physically bigger than Eastern, but something such as size never seems bother the Warriors as they appear to always be mentally stronger than their opponent.
Junior Brian Salzillo will look to stay hot as he scored 25 against Salisbury. Junior Mike Garrow and seniors Chris Robitaille and Joe Ives will try to lead the Warriors throughout and pull off a huge upset on the road. Although the size of the Diplomats will cause problems in the post, Eastern will find a way to make this game close.

Keys for F&M - Let Hayk Gyokchyan go to work and the defensive must guard the perimeter. Gyokchyan dropped 40 last game, so why not feed the him the rock and see what he can do against Eastern? The Warriors can knock down shots from all over, so the Diplomats must lock down the perimeter throughout the game.

Keys for Eastern - "Pick and choose" and hit your shots. Pick and choose who you are going to defend. For instance, shut down Gyokchyan and allow other players to try and step up offensively. F&M will attempt to shut down Eastern from the outside, but it must find a way to find the open man and knock down as many shots as it can.


Soccer: Sporting Behavior Cited by NSCAA

Institution is only one in New England to have both programs honored

Eshield72dpi.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. --  Eastern Connecticut State University is one of only four institutions nationwide - the only one from New England -- to have both its men's and women's soccer programs qualify for a 2012 National Soccer Coaches' Association of America (NSCAA) Ethics Award.

The Eastern men's and women's soccer team both qualified for a Bronze Team Ethics Award for accumulating ten or less yellow and no red cards over the course of the 2012 season. The Eastern men were issued eight yellow cards in 20 matches during a 17-2-1 season and the women's team was given three yellow cards in 18 matches during a 9-6-3 campaign.

"I am so proud of our student athletes from both the men's and women's soccer teams," noted Eastern Director of Athletics Dr. Jeff Konin. "This past fall, not only did they perform successfully on the field and exemplary in the classroom, but the recognition of being just one of four universities in the nation to have both men's and women's teams receive the award demonstrates the high standards portrayed every day at Eastern.  Additionally, our coaches are to be commended for instilling these values in our student athletes."

In addition to Eastern, the only other soccer programs to feature both their men's and women's programs with an Ethics Award were Division III institutions Grinnell College, Grove City College, and Stevens Institute of Technology.

Eastern was among only six men's programs in the country to be recognized with an Ethics Award.  Five of those programs earned spots in the Bronze category and one in the Silver category.

Men's and women's four-year and two-year collegiate teams holding membership in the NSCAA were eligible for the award, presented for the first time. Eight institutions received a Gold Award for being issued no yellow cards during the season; 48 programs earned a Silver Award for receiving five or less yellow cards, and 18 were presented a Bronze Award for receiving ten or fewer yellow cards. Programs which received even one red card were not eligible for the award.

"As the athletic director, this accomplishment combined with the success these programs have had on the field and in the classroom tells me that we are meeting the mission of the University and the true purpose of Division 3 athletics," added Konin. "If I were a parent of one of these student-athletes, I would feel very comfortable that my son or daughter made the right choice coming to Eastern!"  

This past fall, five members of the men's team and five members of the women's team achieved Little East Conference All-Academic status, with seniors Jordan Munsell (Waterford) and Cory Tobler (Portland) of the men's program earning additional honors when they were named to the NSCAA College Division Men's Scholar All-East Region Team.

The Eastern women are under the direction of 13-year head coach Chris D'Ambrosio, the men under the direction of six-year head coach Greg DeVito.


The Aconfora Report: Women's Basketball

by Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff


After a long layoff, Eastern ushered in the new year at the Springfield College Naismith Classic.

The Warriors took on the Bears of Bridgewater State in the opening game of the tournament on New Year's Day. All that time off showed as Eastern had trouble not only controlling the tempo of the game, but controlling possession. The Warriors had 17 turnovers in the first half which led to 24 points for the Bears.

At right: Shannon McCourt

Trailing by 12 at half the Warriors had their backs against the wall and came out on fire in the second half. They went on a huge 21-6 run which gave them a three -point lead with less than ten minutes remaining in the game. Unfortunately that three-point lead wasn't  enough. The Bears held Eastern to one basket in the final five minutes of the game.

In the final seconds trailing by two, Eastern had to throw up a desperation three that fell short as the clock expired. The Warriors were defeated by the bears 55-53, but there were some things they could build on going into the consolation game.

All-tournament selection Shannon McCourt was back on track as she had a great game scoring 20 points and grabbing a season high 16 rebounds. Jill Ritrosky also stepped up as the freshman dropped 11 points and snagged down six rebounds. The slow start ended up hurting the Warriors most in this one, but they still had one more to play at Springfield College as they took on Swarthmore College.

It was an upsetting loss to the Bears the day prior, but the game vs. Swarthmore wasn't much better. Eastern struggled throughout as the Garnet won the game 63-46. It was another game that showed the lack of experience for the Warriors.

Turnovers have been the biggest issue for them this season and it continues. As much as people are all over the struggles of this year's team, they need to take a look at the schedule. All of Eastern's losses so far this season come from teams that have winning percentages of at least .600. Nine of those teams have combined for an overall record of 73-15. Three of those teams are undefeated and three are currently nationally ranked.

Head Coach Denise Bierly has her team playing stronger and overall better teams this season, but what people don't understand is how important this will be down the road. These players are getting experience that players around the country won't get their freshman and sophomore seasons.

There are a few things I think the Warriors need to do to get back on track as they head into the conference part of their schedule. McCourt must continue her great play and stay consistent. They also need to find another scorer either that starts or that comes off the bench. Eastern should not be relying on a player such as Kristina Forsman to score 12 to 15 points a game. Forsman is a true point guard who can knock down a three and drive to the hoop, but should be using her point guard skills more often. As the season goes on, more of these freshmen will learn their roles and come together. Although this team may not have much success this season, the future is extremely bright for Coach Bierly and her Warriors.

M-Basketball: Warriors Maul Gulls

Salzillo fuels quick start with 23 first-half points in 75-55 victory

Box score.

salzillo_72_6643.jpgLANCASTER, Pa. --  Junior guard Brian Salzillo (North Haven) converted seven of eight three-pointers in scoring 23 first-half point off the bench and the Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball team limited Salisbury University to 33.3 percent field goal shooting in recording a 75-55 victory in the opening round of the Franklin & Marshall New Year's Tournament Wednesday night at the Mayser Center.

At left: Brian Salzillo

In the first meeting ever between the programs, Eastern (7-4) ended a two-game losing streak with its most lopsided victory  since the season-opener and handed Salisbury (9-4) its third straight loss after a six-game winning streak. Salisbury's last win was a 76-67 victory at Virginia Wesleyan College, the No. 1-ranked team in Division III.

Eastern moves into the tournament championship game Thursday at 7 p.m. against Franklin & Marshall College (9-1), which downed SUNY Plattsburgh (7-3), 71-55, in Wednesday's second first-round game. Franklin & Marshall, which won 28 games last year and reached the NCAA Elite Eight, is ranked eighth nationally.

Salzillo tied his career high with seven three-pointers (on ten tries) in the game,
falling one point shy of his career-high point total of 25 points. The Warriors totaled a season-high 15 three-point field, missing only eight for a season-best three-point percentage of 65.2

Eastern never trailed in the game after scoring the first seven points, an opening stretch in which Salisbury missed eight shots and turned the ball over three times on its first 11 possessions.  Eastern's bench outscored the bench of Salisbury 26-2 over the first 20 minutes and by 41-15 in the game.

Leading by 17 at halftime, the Warriors reeled off a 12-4 scoring spurt after the Sea Gulls scored the first basket of the half.  Senior guard Joe Ives (Avon), freshman guard Trachone Preston (Enfield) and junior forward Mike Garrow (Terryville) tossed in consecutive three-point field goals to spark that run, with the three-pointers the only ones of the game for Ives and Preston.

Eastern  shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the fourth time in the last five games, showing a 53.3 mark as compared to just 33.3 for Salisbury.

Senior guard Travon Vann equaled his season average with 21 points for Salisbury.

Garrow followed Salzillo with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, with senior forward Tyler Hundley (Cheshire) sinking all four of his field goal tries (three from three-point range) and adding 11 points off the bench. Ives was 7-for-7 from the foul line and contributed ten points while sophomore guard Brandon Yarborough (Stamford) led the Warriors with nine rebounds. Hundley has made good on his last four three point field goals after beginning the season 3-for-22 from long distance.

Salzillo's remarkable first half performance mirrored the one on December 4, when he scored 22 first-half points off the bench with the help of 6-for-7 three-point shooting on the way to a career-high 26 points in a 78-74 road win over New Paltz.

W-Basketball: Swarthmore Tops Warriors

In tourney consolation, Garnet open quickly, ease to 63-46 win


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- An unforgiving schedule continues to harpoon the rebuilding effort of the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team.

Wednesday, once-beaten Swarthmore College built a double-digit lead five minutes into action and the Warriors were never able to seriously threaten in a 63-46 loss in the consolation game of the Springfield College Naismith Classic at Blake Arena.

At right: Freshman Megan Cardarelli drives to the basket in the second half of Wednesday's game against Swarthmore College.

In its first appearance in the tournament, Bridgewater State University (8-2) routed  defending champion Springfield (2-8), 75-51, in Wednesday afternoon's championship game. In Tuesday's first round, Eastern (2-9) battled back from a 17-point deficit before dropping a 56-53 decision to Bridgewater.

Swarthmore (8-1) rebounded from its first loss of the season Tuesday to Springfield (55-48) to send the Warriors to their sixth road loss in seven outings this year.

All of Eastern's losses thus far have come to opponents with winning percentages of at least .600, with those nine teams combining on a current overall winning percentage of .830 (73-15 record). Three of those teams (New Paltz, Southern Maine and Amherst) are undefeated and three (Southern Maine, Amherst and Emmanuel) are nationally ranked. 

After surrendering 30 points off 24 turnovers against Bridgewater, Eastern gave up 21 points off  22 miscues in the first meeting ever against Swarthmore. For the second straight tournament game, however, the Warriors outrebounded their opponent, posting  a +15 advantage in that department in the tournament.

It was an uphill struggled for Eastern after the Garnet broke from the only tie of the game to score seven straight points and 21 of the next 29 to move out to a 13-point lead  12 minutes into action. The Warriors only once were able to cut the deficit into single figures, that coming when sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic) scored her only bucket of the game on a drive with four minutes left in the first half.

Eastern started two freshmen and three sophomores against Swarthmore's starting five of two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore.

Down by 16 at the half, Eastern lopped five points off the margin when sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) sank her only basket of the game - a three-pointer - and sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) swished her only free throws of the contest 35 seconds later.

Featuring a balanced attack throughout the game, Swarthmore countered with seven points from junior guard Katie Lytle (two inside buckets and a jumper and resultant free throw), a drive by senior guard Madeline Ross and three-point field goal from junior guard Elizabeth Casey that pushed the lead to 18 six minutes into the second half.

denihan72_9462.jpgMcCourt, who represented Eastern on the all-tournament team, was the only Eastern player in double figures. After McCourt and her game-high 16 points were lifted with seven minutes left in the game, the Warriors featured a lineup of four freshmen and a sophomore which had accumulated all of eight points in the contest.

At right: Freshman Sarah Denihan connects on the first two-point field goal attempt of her career in the final minute against Swarthmore.

McCourt was 7-for-13 from the floor in the game but was the only Eastern player to shoot better than .500 percent from the field. Her plus-minus took a hit, however, as the Garnet's inside game produced uncontested points at will, most notably in the second half.

McCourt, who was 17-for-28 from the floor with 23 rebounds in two tournament games, shared team-high rebounding honors (seven) with freshman guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA).  Freshman guard Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) had six points, three assists and two rebounds and was charged with only one turnover in 28 minutes.

Making her second collegiate appearance, freshman guard Sarah Denihan (East Hampton) connected on her first career two-point attempt with 52 seconds left for her first collegiate points, while sophomore guard Rabia Rawji (Danbury) collected her second career point with a free throw with 1:32 remaining.

Lytle, sophomore forward Elle Larsen and senior guard Madeline Ross were successful on 19 of 35 field goals and combined for 46 of Swarthmore's point total and 21 of the team's 33 rebounds. Junior guard Kayla Moritzky was held scoreless from the field in 32 minutes but contributed five steals and four assists.

Eastern looks for its first Little East Conference victory after two opening losses Saturday when it returns to Geissler Gymnasium for its first home game since Nov. 27 against Plymouth State University at 1 p.m.


The Aconfora Report: Men's Basketball

WATCH: Eastern Athletics Weekly Thursday at noon on LittleEast.TV


By Nick Aconfora/Sports Information Staff

After two disappointing losses of a combined five points (one in overtime) in Miami, Eastern looks to get back on track as it plays in the Franklin & Marshall New Year Tournament Wednesday and Thursday.

At right: Chris Robitaille

Head Coach Bill Geitner and his team are 6-4 and will kick off the tournament taking on Salisbury University Wednesday at 6 p.m.. The Sea Gulls are 9-3 on the season and began the year winning nine of ten games, but like Eastern, have recently dropped two in a row. Prior to losing its last two, Salisbury upset No.1 Virginia Wesleyan by nine points on the road. 

Expect to see a lot of the 6-3 Salisbury senior guard Travon Vann in this matchup. Vann leads his team in points with 21.3 and rebounds with 8.3. Tim Harwood is behind him averaging 13.1 points a game and he shoots 40 per ent from beyond the arc. The Sea Gulls will look for both of these players throughout the game.

Eastern will look for another great game out of their freshman Trachone Preston as he averaged 19.5 points in the Holiday Slam down in Miami. Mike Garrow will look to bounce back after only scoring two points in the second game in Miami vs. Messiah College. Keep an eye on Brian Salzillo as he will probably try to get his shot going early on to help Eastern jump out to an early, comfortable lead.

Keys for SU - Try to play the in and out game to set up Harwood and Vann for open threes. Set up off ball screens for Vann to get an open jumper or to create a mismatch to penetrate to the basket.

Keys for Eastern - Play tough defense against Vann and get the ball in the hands of 6-foot 5 Chris Robitaille. I can't name a player who can match up with Robitaille in the post, who leads the team in rebounding, and is third in scoring and shoots nearly 50 percent from the floor. Thus, the Warriors must dump the ball inside early on and Robitaille must stay out of foul trouble. If the double team comes, it will lead to open shots from the perimeter for Salzillo, Joe Ives, and Preston.

Eastern will go on to play either Franklin & Marshall or SUNY Plattsburgh Thursday (6 p.m. consolation game, 8 p.m. championship game). Franklin & Marshall (8-1) is ranked 8th in the nation. The Diplomats made a run to the Elite 8 last season and has defeated Little East Conference pre-season favorite Keene State at Keene this season. Whomever Eastern plays in the second game, the Warriors will need to step it up on defense in this tournament. They have had defensive problems at times this season which has cost them a few games.



W-Basketball: Bears Survive Rally

Warriors bounce back from 17 points, eventually fall by 56-53

mccourtBSU72dpi_9247.jpgBox score.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. --  The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team wiped out a 17-point first-half deficit but managed only one field goal over the final five minutes in a 56-53 loss to Bridgewater State University in the opening round of the Springfield College Naismith Classic Tuesday afternoon at Blake Arena.

At left: Shannon McCourt

Eastern (2-8), which lost to Bridgewater (7-2) for the first time in 16 years, faces Swarthmore College in Wednesday's 1 p.m. consolation game. Swarthmore lost for first time in eight games this season, 55-48, to host Springfield (2-7) in Tuesday's first semifinal.

Coming off two straight conference championships and NCAA appearances, Bridgewater outscored Eastern 15-2 late in the first half to build a 17-point lead and held on for its seventh road win against a single loss this season. The Warriors scored five points in the final 30 seconds of the half to trim the margin to 12 at halftime,  then outscored the Bears 21-6 to open the second half to assume a three-point lead (its largest of the game) with eight minutes left.

Leading by three with five minutes left, however, the Warriors managed only one bucket the rest of the game, taking their final lead, 53-52, when sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) sank a perimeter shot on a pass from sophomore Taylor McBride (Willimantic) with 2:04 left.

Senior guard Michaela Cosby put back an offensive rebound to give Bridgewater the lead for good with 1:51 left, then hit a jumper on an inside move to make it 56-53 with 1:16 left.

Bridgewater missed an opportunity to ice the game after the Warriors turned the ball over on their next possession, Eastern sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) pulling down the rebound with 29.8 seconds left. Inbounding from in front of its own bench with 23.5 seconds left, Eastern was unable to get off an uncontested three-pointer, finally flinging up an airball as the final horn sounded.pfohlBSU72dpi_9149.jpg

At right: Victoria Pfohl

Bridgewater turned 17 Eastern turnovers into 24 first-half points in building its 12-point halftime lead before the Warriors controlled the second-half tempo, turning the ball over only seven times.  The 5-foot-11 inch  McCourt scored 16 of Eastern's 29 second-half points - including ten of its first 14 after the break - on the way to her 14th career double-double with 20 points (10-for-15 shooting from the floor) and a season-high 16 rebounds (one shy of her career best).

The 5-foot-5 inch Cosby of Bridgewater led all players in the game with 21 points (10-for-17 from the floor) and also grabbed seven rebounds, with junior forward Megan Boutilette adding ten points and a team-high nine rebounds. Cosby keyed her team's late 15-2 first-half rush by collecting  nine of her team's points. In the final six minutes of the half, Eastern missed three of four shots and turned the ball over eight times in falling 17 points back.

Freshman guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) followed McCourt with 11 points and six rebounds and Forsman had nine points, four assists and four rebounds for the Warriors, a young team playing its fifth straight road game and first contest in over three weeks.  Freshman guard Victoria Pfohl (Trumbull)  came off the bench to hit two three-pointers and finished with six points - the first points of her career. She also grabbed four rebounds and handed out two assists in 22 minutes.

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