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.