Eastern's starters play all but one minute in 65-54 loss to RIC
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - A lack of depth has hindered the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball season all year long.
Tuesday night in the opening round of the 2013 Little East Conference tournament, it crippled the Warriors... and ended their season.
At right: Jill Ritrosky drives to the basket in the first half of Tuesday's season-ending loss in the first round of the Little East tournament. (Photo by Courtney Weber).
Playing without freshman post player Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) - who injured her thumb in Saturday's regular-season finale against UMass Boston - the fourth-seeded Warriors could not match the deep bench of No. 5 Rhode Island College and ended their season with a 66-54 loss to the defending conference champions at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
While Rhode Island (16-10) got productivity from nine players, Eastern's (10-16) starters played - incredibly - all but one minute of the game as the Warriors could not repeat their two-point upset of the Anchorwomen of three weeks ago.
Rhode Island's bench produced 30 points, 21 of them coming from senior forward Ashley O'Dell. O'Dell connected on all five of her three-point field goals and seven of eight shots from the floor in all en route to a game-high 21 points in 30 minutes off the bench.
Eastern dug an early hole in the game, and without re-enforcements, was ill-equipped to stage any sort of comeback. The Warriors missed 18 of their first 20 shots and turned the ball over six times in the first 14 minutes of the game and limped into the half on the short end of a 41-25 score.
Eastern was unable to cut the gap to single figures in the second half, but twice were within a point of doing that in the final three-plus minutes. A driving layup by sophomore guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic) with 3:26 left made it 62-52, but after a steal by freshman forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA), Eastern missed two free throws. Moments later, sophomore forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) drained a jumper to again make it a ten-point game, and the Warriors re-gained possession after an RIC miss, but couldn't convert on two inside chances.
Attempting to score its points inside, the Warriors attempted only one three-pointer in the game and were outscored by 21 points from behind the arc.
Ritrosky (16 points, 13 rebounds) and McCourt (16 points, 14 rebounds, 10-for-12 from the foul line) both had double-doubles for Eastern, with freshman guard Brianna Leonard (Amherst, MA) adding ten points and six rebounds and McBride a season-high ten points with five assists, four rebounds and three steals.