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ECSU falls in overtime

DARTMOUTH, Mass. — The Eastern Connecticut State University men’s basketball team erased a 9-point deficit over the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime, but the Warriors missed four shots in the lane and turned the ball over once on their final five possessions of overtime in a 101-99 OT loss to the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Saturday afternoon at the Tripp Athletic Center.

Needing wins in its final three LEC games to record its second perfect 14-0 conference season in five years, No. 10 nationally-ranked Eastern (20-3 overall, 11-1 LEC) instead had an 11-game winning streak snapped by a UMass-Dartmouth (12-11, 5-7 LEC) team which dressed only nine players, had lost its last four, and had dropped a 24-point decision at Eastern a month ago.

One Eastern win or one loss by Keene State in the last two LEC regular-season games gives the Warriors at least a share of their fifth straight regular-season title and the No. 1 tournament seed. Keene State pulled within a game of Eastern with an 84-71 home win over Western Connecticut Saturday.

The Warriors never led until scoring the first basket of overtime.

They led five times by two points in overtime, the last lead coming at 99-97 on a layup by senior forward Jacob Collins with 1:54 left, but sophomore guard Brandon Williams tied the game with two free throws on UMD’s next possession, and broke the final tie by scoring off his own miss with 19 seconds left to make it 101-99.

UMD clanged two free throws with 6.8 seconds left that gave Eastern a final opportunity after a defensive rebound by senior guard Tarchee Brown, but sophomore guard Carlos Gonzalez’s floater in the lane bounced off the rim as time expired.

Sophomore guard Jake Collagan played a huge role in bringing Eastern back from 15 points down with 4:30 left and from nine points down in the final two minutes of regulation when he scored seven points on a pair of 3-pointers and a free throw.

Collagan’s free throw with 25.3 seconds left cut UMD’s lead to one, 87-86, and, after the Corsairs sank 1-of-2 with 22.8 seconds left, Brown banked in a runner in the paint with 9.9 seconds left to tie the game at 88-all. With time expiring, sophomore guard Marquis Jones nearly ended the game in regulation, but his tip-in at the buzzer fell off the rim.

Brown (16 points), Collagan (12) and Collins (10) combined for 38 of ECSU’s second-half total and senior guard Kendall Marquez chipped in eight second-half points before fouling out with 42.9 seconds left in regulation in a tie game. Collagan and Collins both came off the bench in the game.

Brown shared game-high scoring honors with 31 points — his second 30-point effort of the year. He was 12-of-17 from the floor and also led both teams with 10 rebounds.

Collins finished with a career-high 17 points — all after halftime — on 8-of-10 field goal shooting. Collagan was 4-of-5 from 3-point range for the second straight game (following that showing in Thursday’s key 83-78 win over his former team, Keene State), and followed Brown with 20 points.

Gonzalez added 12 points, nine assists and five steals and Marquez totaled 11 points (5-of-5 on free throws).

UMD, which was 21-of-26 from the foul line after halftime, got 31 points from freshman guard Jake Ashworth.

Ashworth, who shoots 42 percent from distance and over 90 percent from the stripe, was 4-of-7 from 3-point range and 9-of-10 from the foul line. Ashworth sank clutch jumpers twice in overtime with his team trailing by two.

Williams followed Ashworth with 28 points. He was 10-of-11 from the foul line, helping the Corsairs go 24-of-30 from the stripe.

Collagan and Collins combined for 37 of Eastern’s 39 bench points, which out-scored UMD’s non-starters by 34 points.

In final LEC games, Eastern visits Western Connecticut Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and closes out the regular season Saturday, hosting Southern Maine at 3 p.m.

WOMEN

DARTMOUTH, Mass. — Six-foot senior forward Alicia Kutil had four of her game-high 25 points in the final minute of the first quarter when the UMass-Dartmouth women’s basketball team grabbed the momentum for good as the Corsairs clinched their first-ever top seed in the Little East Conference tournament with a 78-62 victory over Eastern Connecticut Saturday afternoon at the Tripp Athletic Center.

With two LEC regular-season games remaining, UMD (20-3 overall, 12-0 LEC) clinched at least a share of its first LEC regular-season championship with its ninth straight victory and swept the season series from Eastern (10-13, 7-5) for only the second time in the 32-year history of the conference.

Western Connecticut’s 95-79 loss at Keene State on Saturday guarantees the Warriors fourth place in the final LEC standings and a first-round home tournament game a week from Tuesday.

Maintaining this year the momentum it gained by reaching the NCAA Division III Elite Eight as an at-large selection last year, UMD never trailed in the game, out-scoring Eastern by 24 points in the paint and by 15 off turnovers.

With her team leading by one point in the final minute of the first quarter, Kutil scored twice and had a steal as UMD scored the final six points of the quarter to build a 7-point, 21-14 lead after 10 minutes.

The Warriors cut the lead to six points four minutes into the second half on a 3-pointer by senior guard Kelly Reardon — set up by sophomore forward Mya Villard’s rebound — but UMD sandwiched an inside basket by 2016-17 LEC Player-of-the-Year Nakira Examond and a pair of free throws by Leah Douty to restore a 10-point lead midway through the quarter.

Kutil led four UMD double-digit scorers with 25 points and also had nine rebounds and four steals. Douty had 16 points and Examond 14 points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore guard Sabrina LeMere equaled her career high with 22 points for Eastern, sinking half of her 14 field goal attempts and 5-of-7 free throws. Villard recorded her sixth double-double in the last 12 games with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Ten of her points came in 15 free throws for Villard, who was 3-of-16 from the floor.

Reardon chipped in 10 points and three assists and freshman forward Diana Wnuk had a career-high 10 rebounds in 34 minutes in her first career start.

 

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