Anchorwomen Advance to First-Ever Little East Championship Game
Providence, R.I.-Senior forward Rachel Riley (Coventry, RI) posted her 42nd career double-double as she finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in Rhode Island College's, 67-47, win over Western Connecticut in the semifinal round of the 2012 Little East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament on Friday night at The Murray Center.
With the win over defending champion Western Connecticut (17-10), Rhode Island College (23-3) advances to its first-ever Little East Conference Tournament Championship game, which will be played on Saturday, Feb. 25 at The Murray Center (4:00 p.m.). RIC will face second-seeded Southern Maine, which defeated third-seeded Keene State, 60-52, in the other semifinal matchup. The Anchorwomen handed the Huskies, 74-50, setback in Providence on Jan. 10, while USM was the only LEC squad to defeat RIC, 72-68, on Feb. 11.
"Our kids set the tone early and throughout the first half especially, with a defensive intensity that showed we were hungry to play in our first conference tournament championship game," RIC Head Coach Marcus Reilly said. "We have to get right back out there tomorrow and set the tone the exact same way for 40 minutes."
The Anchorwomen, who completed their season-sweep of the Colonials with the win, remain perfect at The Murray Center with a 12-0 home record on the season.
After a 13-0 Rhode Island College run to open the ballgame, spearheaded by six points from Gaudet, the Colonials finally notched their first basket of the game with 12:37 on the clock, as sophomore forward Sciarra Brandt (Thomaston, CT) buried a mid-range jumper to get Western Connecticut on the board. The Anchorwomen then proceeded to string together a 24-1 run through the remainder of the half to take a 37-3 lead into the intermission. RIC held Western to just 1-of-19 (five percent) shooting through the first 20 minutes, including 0-of-8 shooting from downtown, while also forcing 18 first half turnovers.
The second half was much different for the Colonials as they shot 57 percent (17-of-30) through the final 20 minutes and coughed up just three turnovers. Yet, the 34-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome, despite a solid effort in the second frame in which they outscored RIC, 44-30.
Senior guard Cynthia Gaudet (Coventry, RI) led the Anchorwomen with a game-high 16 points, to go along with four steals, three rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Stephanie Coro (North Providence, RI) tallied 10 points, six boards, four steals and three assists, while freshman forward Katie Donovan (Hudson, NH) recorded six points, four rebounds and two blocks off the bench. Junior forward Courtney Burns (Rockland, MA) netted six points for RIC, while senior guard Nicole Girard (Foster, RI) contributed with five points and three assists in the win.
On the other end, junior guard Carly Murphy (Wolcott, CT) registered a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Jackie Zilnicki (Riverhead, NY) finished with a team-high 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go along with five boards. Freshman guard Caroline Brasa (East Hartford, CT) added eight points and three steals, while freshman guard Amber Litwinko (Kensington, CT) chipped in with eight points as well.
Rhode Island College shot 43 percent from the field (28-of-65) in the win, while dishing out 20 assists as a team. The Anchorwomen also committed just 11 turnovers in the win, while out-rebounding Western, 39-35. After struggling mightily in the first half, the Colonials ended the game with a 37 percent (18-of-49) shooting effort from the floor.
Western Connecticut was without its leading scorer, senior guard Stephanie Slonski (Griswold, CT), who was injured and unavailable.