- SALEM, Mass. – Junior forward Mya Villard (Cromwell) scored 18 points and junior guard Julie Jordan (Sterling) added a double-double with 11 points and a season-high 11 rebounds as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team defeated host Salem State University, 77-53, on the first day of the Salem State Holiday Classic Saturday afternoon at Twohig Gymnasium.
Idle for three weeks, Eastern (7-2) defeated Salem State (2-8) for the sixth time in the last eight encounters on the way to its fifth straight victory this season. The Warriors face Endicott College Sunday at noon in their second game in the tournament. Endicott (5-5) dropped a 55-51 decision to Castleton State University Castleton (8-3), a first-year member of the Little East Conference, beat Endicott 55-51 earlier in the day.
Villard scored ten of Eastern's 21 first quarter points -- going 5-for-5 from the field -- as Eastern jumped out to a ten-point lead after one quarter and was never seriously threatened. Behind Villard, the Warriors shot 69.2 from the floor in the first quarter while the Vikings missed 11 of their 15 field goal tries over the first ten minutes.
Eastern outscored Salem 7-1 in the first quarter, breaking a 6-all tie and moving out to a 13-7 lead with three minutes left in the frame.
Villard led all players in the game with 18 points, sinking eight of 13 field goals to improve her season field goal percentage to 55.4 percent. She also grabbed six rebounds to help the Warriors to a plus-8 advantage on the boards. In all, four of Eastern's starters finished in double figures. Jordan, junior guard Sabrina LeMere (North Branford) and senior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) all chipped in 11 points. LeMere and Jordan combined for nine assists, with LeMere and junior guard Lizzy Cretella (Cheshire) adding five rebounds each. The 5-foot-4 inch Jordan has pulled down at least ten rebounds each of the last three games – averaging 7.7 per game this year -- and the double-double was her second in the last three outings.
Off the bench, freshman guard Danielle O'Brien (Rockland, MA) had six points on 2-of-3 three-point shooting, and three rebounds in 17 minutes. Freshman forward Anna Barry (Andover) came off the bench for six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.
The Warriors connected on 50.8 percent of their field goals – their second-best mark of the season.
Eastern and Endicott have met only once previously, the Gulls prevailing, 56-42, five years ago at Geissler Gymnasium. Endicott has dropped three of its last four since winning four straight.
The Gulls are coming off last year's 17-10 campaign which included nine consecutive wins before losing in the semifinals of the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament.
Endicott is coached by eighth-year head coach Brittany Hutchinson, who appeared in seven games off the bench as a freshman at Eastern in 2004-05 before moving into a position as a student-assistant coach the following year.