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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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