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Women’s Basketball’s Valiant Comeback Effort Falls Just Short Against Eastern Connecticut State

Ashley Howe

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Eastern Connecticut State broke loose in the third quarter and held off a valiant comeback effort to escape with a 66-57 victory over the Connecticut College women's basketball team on Tuesday evening at Geissler Gymnasium.

The Warriors got off to a fast start by scoring the first five points and prompting Camel head coach Jackie Smith to burn a 30-second timeout less than two minutes into the contest. The team, however, responded out of the brief huddle by embarking on a 14-3 run. Junior Ashley Howe (Saco, Maine) tied the game at 6-6 by hitting a 3-pointer from the left corner, and freshman Emily O'Sullivan (North Reading, Mass.) converted a layup to put the visitors ahead. Lizzy Cretella was able to tie the score at 14s by sinking a jumper with 22 seconds remaining, but senior captain Caroline Pangallo (Fairfield, Conn.) came back the other way and drove in for a layup to give the Camels a 16-14 edge through one period of play.

After going up 20-17 on another O'Sullivan bucket, the Camels unfortunately went cold from the field and were unable to score for more than four minutes. The Warriors regained the lead when Kelsey Santagata finished a pass from Sabrina Lemere and remained ahead for the remainder of the frame. Fueled by getting 16 bench points in 20 minutes, the hosts carried a 28-23 advantage into the recess.

Eastern Connecticut State then suddenly broke loose and opened up a big lead by outscoring the Camels, 20-8, in the third quarter. Anna Barry quickly extended the margin to twin figures at 35-25 with 7:42 left by converting an old-fashioned 3-point play, and the Warriors ended the quarter on a 10-2 run after not allowing the Camels to make a field goal for the remaining 4:51. Myra Villard sank a pair of charity shots to give the hosts a commanding 48-31 through 30 minutes of action, giving her team more than enough insurance.

Despite falling behind by as many as 19 points, the Camels did not go away quietly and slashed the margin down to 10. Howe canned another trifecta from the left corner to spark the offense and end a field goal drought which lasted 5:52, and senior Kylie Caouette (Ashburnham, Mass.) capped a strong stretch by converting a layup to make it 56-46 with 3:35 remaining and plenty of time to complete an improbable comeback.

Freshman Claire Gulbin (Wilton, Conn.) then scored five straight points to bring the visitors within seven at 58-51 with 1:06 on the clock, but the deficit heading into the final frame proved to be too much for the Camels to overcome. Julie Keckler, Julie Jordan and Santagata all sank free throws in the final minute, and the Warriors survived to post a nine-point win.

Eastern Connecticut State (11-6) was led by Villard, who just fell shy of a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds. Santagata contributed 14 points and four assists, which were both team bests, in a reserve role, and LeMere and Barry finished with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Caouette and Gulbin paced Connecticut College by contributing 10 points apiece off the bench. Senior Margaret Corcoran (Milton, Mass.) netted seven points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Howe registered eight points by efficiently shooting 3-of-4 from the field and 2-of-3 from downtown.

Connecticut College (11-7) returns home to face No. 6 Tufts on Friday evening at 7 p.m.