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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.

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