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W-Basketball: Eastern Solves Owls

Down by nine at the half, Warriors surge to Little East win, 67-55


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team overcame a nine-point halftime deficit by shooting 50 percent from the floor and sinking 18 of  23 free throws in the second half in a 67-55 Little East Conference victory over Keene State College Wednesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Freshman Jill Ritrosky drives to the basket for two her 13 second-half points Wednesday night against Keene State. (Jon Mizger photo)

With one conference game left in the regular season, Eastern (10-14, 8-5 Little East) maintains a share of third place with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and remains a game ahead of Rhode Island College in the race for the fourth seed and a first-round LEC tournament home game Tuesday.

A winner of six of its last seven against Keene (9-15, 3-10 Little East), the Warriors complete the season sweep of the Owls, who are unofficially assured the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament and will visit the No. 2 seed in Tuesday's first round.

While Eastern was shooting under 27 percent in the first half, Keene shot nearly 50 percent  - getting 13 points from freshman guard Kelsey Cognetta  - in rolling up a 31-22 halftime lead. In the second half, however, Eastern sophomore guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) and freshman guard Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) combined for 27 points (9-for-14 from the floor) and 13 rebounds to spark the Warriors to their fifth win in the last seven games and push them over .500 (6-5) at Geissler Gym.

A pair of free throws from freshman post player Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) pulled Eastern event eight minutes into the second half and a free throw from Forsman and an inside basket by Ritrosky pushed the Warriors into the lead for good, 40-37, a minute later.

Keene, limited to 14 first-half points in an 18-point loss to Eastern  at home Jan. 22, equaled that total seven minutes into Wednesday's game and led by as many as 12 in the first half.  Cognetta converted all five of her field goals (2-for-2 from "three" in the half, finishing with 16 points  in the game on 6-for-6 field goals shooting. Senior Siobhan Carnell  led Keene with 17 points but needed 25 field goal attempts to reach that figure.

Ritrosky led Eastern with 17 points (7-for-11 field goals) and 12 rebounds and Forsman added 16 points and a career-tying nine rebounds in 40 minutes, with Leonard scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Brooks, who played 27 minutes in place of foul-plagued sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) had career-highs of 11 points and ten rebounds. Forsman was 8-for-10 from the foul line and Brooks 5-for-7 as the Warriors outscored the visitors by 20 from the stripe.

It was only the second time this season that Eastern has overcome a halftime deficit to win, following a three-point overtime triumph over UMass Dartmouth Jan. 8 at Geissler Gym after it trailed by 11 at the break.

Eastern hosts University of Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 1 p.m. in the final regular-season home game of the year.


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