WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Riding the momentum of a come-from-behind win over the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team the first time around this year, defending Little East Conference regular-season champion University of Massachusetts Dartmouth rode balanced scoring and rebounding to build a 30-point lead late in the third quarter in coasting to a 73-55 win Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
A winner of 24 of its last 25 LEC regular-season games, UMass Dartmouth (17-3, 10-1 LEC) closed the first quarter and began the second on a 14-0 scoring run to open up a 23-9 lead, carried a 19-point, 40-21 advantage into the lockerroom and ballooned the lead to 30, 57-27, with 12 minutes left in the game.
Eastern falls 2 ½ games behind conference-leading UMass Dartmouth into a share of third place with the University of Southern Maine. UMass Boston defeated homestanding Southern Maine, 58-49, Saturday to move into sole possession of second place.
Two weeks ago, UMass escaped from a nine-point deficit late in the third quarter and came away with a 64-60 win, thanks largely to two unforced Eastern turnovers in the final 15 seconds. This time, UMD got ten points and a game-high 14 rebounds from senior forward Nakira Examond – the LEC Player-of-the-Year as a sophomore – and outrebounded Eastern (13-8, 8-4 LEC), 47-34 in sweeping the season series for the second straight year after losing 38 of 40 games to the Warriors earlier in the all-time series.
Off the bench, freshman guards Jordan Moretti had 12 points and four rebounds and Jessica Carroll eight points in 12 minutes.
Two of Eastern's most productive players came off the bench. Freshman forward Aiyana Ward (Waterbury) had a career-high 11 points in 11 minutes and senior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) contributed ten points, four rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes. Eastern's starters combined for 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and turned the ball over 11 times.
Eastern visits the University of Southern Maine Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.