WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Sophomore forward Mya Villard (Cromwell) had seven of her game-high 18 points and sophomore guard Julie Jordan (Sterling) six of her game-high 11 rebounds in the third quarter as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team pulled away for a 62-50 Little East Conference victory over Rhode Island College Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
The victory is a season-high third straight for Eastern (6-10, 4-3 LEC) and moves the Warriors into sole possession of fourth place in the LEC ahead of Western Connecticut (10-8, 3-4 LEC, which dropped a 79-77 road decision to the University of Southern Maine Saturday. UMass Dartmouth, the only LEC unbeaten, maintains a three-game lead over Eastern. A loser of five straight, Rhode Island (7-9, 1-6 LEC) was swept by Eastern in the season series for the second straight year.
The Warriors led from start to finish after opening up a quick 7-0 lead and withstood a deep RIC bench which outscored Eastern's reserves, 27-2, and also withstood its own 2-of-12 shooting from three-point range.
The Anchorwomen whittled an eight-point Eastern led to one in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and trailed by only four, 28-24, at the break. The Warriors took hold of the momentum for good in the third quarter when a run of eight straight points pushed a two-point lead to ten, 43-33, with three minutes left in the quarter.
In a one-possession game in that third quarter, Rhode Island could not capitalize on three straight Eastern misses before junior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) connected on a jumper to make it 37-33. Jordan then rebounded an RIC miss and fed sophomore guard Sabrina LeMere (North Branford), whose driving layup upped the lead to six, 39-33. The 5-foot-3 inch Jordan, who has double figure rebounds in three of her last five games, then pulled down another RIC miss and senior guard Kelly Reardon (Holyoke, MA) sank a jumper off a pass from Santagata as the lead moved to eight, 41-33. The Warriors then capped the eight-point run when LeMere corralled an offensive rebound and put it back up to make it 43-33 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Leading by eight after three quarters, another lengthy scoring run – nine consecutive points – to open the fourth quarter ballooned the lead to 17, 54-37, with six minutes left. Santagata had four of those nine points and LeMere dished out two assists.
Villard (7-of-11) led all players in scoring with her game-high total of 18 and she also grabbed six rebounds and contributed five assists. Santagata had 12 of her 16 points in the second half while Jordan had eight points (4-of-5) a game-high 11 rebounds and one turnover in 40 minutes. LeMere had 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Reardon five assists and two steals.
With four starters combining for only 12 points, Rhode Island got a combined 23 points off the bench from freshman guard Brooke Young and junior guard Margaret McCaffrey. Young had 13 points in 21 minutes and McCaffrey ten points and three (offensive) rebounds in 25 minutes.
Sophomore guard Jordyn Gauvin, the team's season scoring leaders, finished with 11 points, a team-high nine rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Eastern hosts Western Connecticut State University in a conference game Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.