PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Eastern Connecticut State University sophomore forward Mya Villard (Cromwell) scored a career-high 30 points but all five Johnson & Wales University starters finished in double figures in the Warriors' 69-66 non-conference women's basketball loss Wednesday night.
Villard had 12 of her points in the fourth quarter on 4-of-5 field goal shooting and 4-of-4 free throw shooting as Eastern (3-7) cut a seven-point deficit to three in the final minute, but had a potential game-tying three-point field goal blocked at the buzzer after forcing a turnover in the final seconds. Johnson & Wales (6-4) is now 4-0 at home this year.
In a game where Eastern's starters played all but 17 minutes, sophomore guard Sabrina LeMere (North Branford) had career-highs of 14 points and (a game-high) nine rebounds in 33 minutes in her first career start. LeMere left the game for two minutes after picking up her third personal foul in a one-point game and returned with the Warriors trailing by seven three minutes into the second half. She avoided picking up her fourth foul until 1:22 remained in a seven-point game.
Villard was 13-of-21 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the foul line and did not commit a turnover in 34 minutes. In 39 minutes, sophomore guard Julie Jordan (Sterling) had ten points and five rebounds without a turnover.
Four Johnson & Wales substitutes contributed 11 points and 14 rebounds in 46 minutes, while Eastern's starters totaled all but two points and two rebounds.
Trailing by nine points with four minutes left, the Warriors outscored the Wildcats 13-7 the rest of the way, with Villard credited with the team's final eight points over the last two minutes. Down by the final three-point margin, an Eastern press forced a jump ball and turnover in the final seconds. The Warriors rotated the ball before a potential game-tying three-pointer from the top of the circle was blocked by Kristen Habbel as the horn sounded.
Six-foot-one inch Ally Mishol led Johnson & Wales with 16 points and five rebounds.
Eastern visits Massachusetts Boston Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Little East Conference game. The Warriors and Beacons (10-1 overall) are among four conference teams at 2-0.
Eastern returned 24 points and J&W 28 when Eastern won, 58-46, a year ago at Geissler Gymnasium... Sarah Duryea, who managed only two points and four rebounds in 29 minutes against Eastern a year ago, had 11 points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes tonight... Ally Mishol was equally ineffective last year against Eastern but had 16 points, five rebounds and only one turnover in 28 minutes tonight... both teams were 3-of-14 from three-point range tonight and had a nearly identical FT percentage... Eastern starters Julie Jordan and Sabrina LeMere were non-factors against J&W last year but started tonight... Jordan did not appear in last year's game while LeMere did not make the box score in three minutes... in her first career start tonight, LeMere fell just one rebound shy of a double-double, which would have been only the second by an Eastern player this year... LeMere became the fourth different player to lead the team in rebounds in the last four games... despite its sub-.500 record, Eastern has had less turnovers than its opponent five times in the last six games and had a better shooting percentage than its last four opponents... last year, Jordyn Nappi and Lexis Foster combined for 30 points against J&W and combined on 8-of-9 FT shooting, and shared game-high honors with nine rebounds... senior guard Kelly Reardon (Holyoke, MA) (pictured) has been charged with only two turnovers in 69 minutes in the last two games against J&W... tonight, she had five steals, giving her 18 steals against eight turnovers in the last five games... tonight, LeMere started in place of injured starter Lizzy Cretella (Cheshire), whom she replaced in the game with four minutes left in the 68-47 loss to Wis.-Whitewater in the second of two games in Ft. Lauderdale Dec. 18... Cretella is second on the team in scoring (12.3) and among the five starters averaging better than 30 minutes per game... at the time of the injury, Cretella led the Warriors in three-point FGs (9) and was second in FTs (20) and rebounding (6.0)... the Warriors have been outscored in the each of the first three quarters this year but continued to excell in the fourth tonight, outscoring the hosts by three... the Wildcats defeated the Warriors for the second time in the last three years after the Warriors won the first three games in the series by an average of more than 20 points... UMass Boston brings a program-record nine-game win streak into Saturday's game, having erased an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat its fourth straight .500-plus opponent (MIT), 68-63, last Saturday at Cambridge... the Beacons will be idle for a week heading into the Eastern game, having had a Thursday game postponed due to snow Thursday at Bridgewater State... with the win against MIT, UMB exceeded its win total from a year ago... Eastern brings a ten-game winning streak against UMB into Saturday's game, two of the wins coming in the LEC title game in 2015 and 2016... UMB is 5-0 at home, Eastern 2-3 away from home... the teams have met only one common opponent, both defeating LEC foe Rhode Island College... UMB won, 62-51, Dec. 9 at home vs. RIC and Eastern posted a 59-42 victory over the Anchorwomen Dec. 2 at The Murray Center... UMB leads the LEC in rebounding margin (+8.5) while Eastern is last (-7.0)... the Warriors (14.8) and Beacons (16.7) rank 1-2 in the LEC in least average turnovers... UMB features 13 freshmen under third-year head coach Krisina Baugh, a former head men's basketball coach iin the American Basketball Assocation (ABA)... key among the freshmen are six-foot leading scorer and rebounder Joie Grassi (17.4/7.6) and second-leading scorer guard Megan Dixon, (10.5 ppg.), who also rank 1-2 in three-point field goals...