Women's Basketball: Unheralded Bench Players Spark Wild Little East Victory

Women's Basketball: Unheralded Bench Players Spark Wild Little East Victory

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Sophomore forward Mya Villard (Cromwell)  scored 35 points – one shy of the Eastern Connecticut State University game record --  and Emily Menendez (Shelton) and freshman Diana Wnuk (Bristol) combined for 38 points and 14 rebounds off the bench to power the Warriors to a 110-94 Little East Conference victory over Western Connecticut State University Wednesday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

The win is the fourth straight in LEC play for Eastern (7-10, 5-3 LEC) and ninth in a row for the Warriors over Western (10-9, 3-5 LEC), the nation's No. 1 offensive team with a season scoring average of  89.0 points. Eastern shot 77.8 percent in the first quarter and 72.2 percent in the fourth – mostly on unmolested layups after breaking Western pressure – in scoring 30 points over its season average.

Eastern raced to a 35-14 lead after one quarter and was never seriously threatened, pushing the advantage to a game-high 24 three minutes into the second quarter. The Warriors never trailed in the game.

Villard was 13-of-22 from the floor en route to her career-high total and was also 9-of-10 from the foul line and also grabbed a season and game-high 12 rebounds to help Eastern to a +23 advantage on the glass.  Averaging 2.5 points per game with a season total of 35 points entering play, Menendez followed with a career-high 25 points in 22 minutes and also pulled down a career-high eight rebounds. She was 12-of-15 from the floor. With 13 points, Wnuk exceeded her entire season scoring total by one. Seven of her points came on ten free throws. Junior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) had eight rebounds and a career-high 11 assists. Kelly Reardon (Holyoke, MA) chipped in 13 points and four steals and tied her career-high of nine assists.

The Warriors turned the ball over 33 times and Western 22. Each team scored 34 points off turnovers, but Eastern dominated in the paint, scoring 80 of its points in the paint. The Warriors attempted only one three-point field goal. The Colonials tossed up a whopping 85 shots, sinking 14 of 36 from three-point range. Eastern was 26-of-36 from the foul line.

Western, which shot just 25.0 percent in falling back by 21 points after just ten minutes, got a team-high 26 points from Jancy Sherwood. Ranked first nationally in three-points made and attempted, Sherwood was 5-of-13 from long range. The Colonials also got 17 points from Frances Snyder and 14 points and five steals  from Genesis Torres.

Eastern Hall of Famer Missy Kowolenko set the current game point record at Rhode Island College Feb. 11, 1993. Former four-time All-America Allison Coleman (2000-04) scored 35 points in a game three times. The final combined point total is the highest (204) in program history and Eastern's point total is the fourth-highest in history, following 117 points three times previously.

Eastern visits Dean College Thursday at 7 p.m. in a non-conference game.