Women's Basketball: LeMere, Santagata Fuel Late Rally; Warriors' Streak Reaches Five

Women's Basketball: LeMere, Santagata Fuel Late Rally; Warriors' Streak Reaches Five

FRANKLIN, Mass. – Sabrina LeMere (North Branford) scored eight of her team's last 13 points -- including the game-winner with 3.6 seconds left -- as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team rallied from eight points down with six minutes left for its fifth straight win, 65-63, over Dean College in a non-conference game Thursday evening.

Jamaya Cleveland of Dean (9-7) was fouled on an offensive rebound with 19.6 seconds left and tied the game, 63-63, with a free throw, but missed the second attempt --her only free throw attempts of the game -- and the ball was rebounded by Eastern's (8-10) Mya Villard (Cromwell).

Following a timeout, Kelly Reardon (Holyoke, MA) inbound at half court to LeMere. The sophomore lefty drove the lane and her layup from the left side rolled around the rim and through with 3.6 seconds left. The Bulldogs got off a late shot as time expired.

LeMere led all scorers with a career-high 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting -- the first time that she has topped the team in that department this year -- while Villard contributed her third double-double in four games with 15 points (7-of-13) and a season-high 14 rebounds. In her two-year career, she eclipsed the 600 career point plateau. Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) had eight rebounds and six assists. In the final two minutes, she chipped in three of her four points in the game and had four rebounds (three offensive) and a steal.

Dean, which turned the ball over twice and missed two shots on its final four possessions, led 60-52 with six minutes left but the Warriors ended the game on a 13-3 run. Villard hit an inside basket and LeMere added a pair of hoops – the second off a steal by Santagata – to make it 60-58 with 3:34 left. Iindia Pina's jumper restored a four-point lead for the Bulldogs with 2:50 left, but the hosts would manage only Cleveland's free throw the rest of the way.

At right: Kelsey Santagata (Photo by Nick McEnany)

Eastern trailed by only one point after three quarters but missed four of its first five shots and turned the ball over once on its first six possessions of the fourth quarter and was outscored, 10-2, over the first three minutes as the Bulldogs threatened to run away with a nine-point, 59-50 lead. With Eastern down 62-58, the teams traded turnovers. The Warriors then failed on a pair of free throws with 2:08 left, but Santagata was fouled rebounding her own miss and hit one free throw to cut the Dean lead to three, 62-59, with two minutes left. Santagata grabbed the miss of a Dean miss with 1:40 left, then had a putback on a missed three-pointer by LeMere that sliced the Dean lead to one, 62-61, with 68 seconds left. LeMere then stole the ball and dropped in a driving layup to put the Warriors in front, 63-62, with 33 seconds left.

The Bulldogs commited five turnovers in the fourth quarter which led to five Eastern points, and the Warriors survived despite missing three of four free throws over the final ten minutes.

Julie Jordan (Sterling) added 11 points in 40 minutes for Eastern, while six-foot Shannon Rosensteel led Dean with 16 points and ten rebounds.

The game was the first ever between the program and the loss was the first at home in six games for Dean.

Eastern returns to Little East Conference action Saturday at Plymouth State University at 1 p.m. – its third game in four days.