WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Ellen Cook and Kellie Macdonald combined for 40 points on 15-of-29 shooting as Williams College built a 23-point lead four minutes into the second half and withstood a late Eastern Connecticut State University rally for a 70-64 non-conference victory Sunday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Ranked 13th nationally, Williams (7-0) defeated Eastern (4-2) for the fourth straight time in this series by shooting over 50 percent from the floor in building a 16-point, 39-23 halftime lead and limiting the Warriors to 25 percent shooting over those first 20 minutes.
Playing its fifth home game in its first six contests this year, Eastern held a +15 advantage on the boards, converted 20 of 25 free throws, and turned 17 offensive rebounds into a decisive 17-1 advantage in second-chance opportunities. However, the Warriors were no match for the overall play of six-foot senior guards Cook and Macdonald. A returning Division III All-America, Cook led all players with 21 points (8-of-16 from the floor), four rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Macdonald followed with 19 points (7-of-13), a team-high seven rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists. The pair sank nine of 11 free throws for the Ephs, who canned 17 of 21 from the stripe as a team which has been successful on over 80 percent of its freebies this year.
Williams moved firmly in command of a 23-point lead by opening the second half on a 10-3 run, but Eastern made some noise in the final eight minutes with a 21-4 spurt which whittled a 20-point deficit to three when junior forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) dropped in two free throws with 12 seconds left.Less than four seconds later, Cook sank both ends of a one-and-one to secure the Williams victory.
Rendered ineffective in the first half, post players Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) and Erin Brooks (Billerica, MA) came alive in the second half, combing for 27 points (9-of-16) and nine rebounds over the final 20 minutes and sparking the Warriors' rally from 23 down. Brooks finished with a career-high 21 points (9-of-10 from the foul line) and added eight rebounds and McCourt finished with 13 points and five rebounds in just 17 minutes. In the first half, Ritrosky scored nearly half of the team's 23 points and grabbed nearly half of its 20 rebounds and ended the day with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Devon Caveney teamed with Cook and Macdonald in the first half by scoring 13 of her game total of 14 points. She was 7-of-7 from the stripe in the first half and added four rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes to go along with 14 points.
Eastern visits No. 5-ranked Amherst College Thursday at 5:30 p.m.