WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Seven weeks ago in its Little East Conference opener against Rhode Island College, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team clawed back from a 17-point second-half deficit before falling four points short.
Saturday, in the re-match, the Warriors carried a 12-point lead into the final ten minutes but came up a pair short in a 61-59 loss at Francis E. Geissler Gym.
Looking for its sixth straight conference victory since the road loss to Rhode Island (6-11, 4-3 LEC), Eastern (11-6, 5-2 LEC) was outscored 13-4 after senior guard Taylor McBride (Willimantic) sank a driving layup to make it 55-48 with five minutes left.
Sophomore guard Alex Moore of RIC scored four of her team's final five points. Her jumper with 44 seconds left gave her team the lead for good, 58-57, and after freshman guard Jess Korzec stole the ball on Eastern's ensuing possession, Moore canned a pair from the stripe to make it 60-57 with 23.6 seconds left. After McBride connected on another drive with eight seconds left that made it a one-point game, Eastern had an opportunity to tie or go ahead after RIC failed on two free throws, but the Warriors missed the front end of a one-and-one with 5.1 seconds left, and junior forward Michelle Lagrotteria sank the second of two with 4.4 seconds left to close out the scoring. McBride's long-range attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.
The visitors stopped Eastern's season-high five-game winning streak in downing the Warriors for the seventh time in the last nine meetings. RIC has won four straight since a five-game losing streak.
Korzec followed up her 26-point effort in the previous victory over Eastern with a game-high 18 points, with junior forward Devin Hill adding 16 points and Moore 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Against Eastern this year, Moore has scored 36 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the floor.
Eastern, which rolled up a ten-point halftime lead on the strength of 48.4 percent shooting from the field, gave up 13 second-half points on its 11 turnovers, and shot less than 30 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes.
Senior guard Kristina Forsman (Newington) and sophomore guard Julia DePoi (Brookfield) both had 12 points for Eastern, with sophomore guard Jordyn Nappi (Southington) adding 11 points (nine in the first half) and senior forward Shannon McCourt (New Fairfield) ten points and ten rebounds. Junior forward Jill Ritrosky (Pittsfield, MA) matched McCourt with ten rebounds, helping Eastern to a +8 advantage on the boards. McBride led all players with seven assists.
Rhode Island got all but two of its points and all but two of its rebounds from its starters.
Eastern hosts Western Connecticut State University Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.