WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Junior forward Mya Villard (Cromwell) recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 11 points and ten rebounds and six-foot freshman forward Anna Barry (Andover) had seven points, six blocks and six rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench to help the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team to a 60-44 Little East Conference victory over Keene State College Saturday afternoon at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Having lost three of its previous four, Eastern (9-5, 5-2 LEC) built a nine-point, 29-20 halftime lead, then shot 50 percent from the floor in the third quarter to take a 15-point, 47-32 advantage into the final quarter.
Keene (2-13, 0-7 LEC), which dropped its eighth straight, cut the gap to eight, 48-40, midway through the fourth quarter, but Villard sank an inside bucket off a pass from junior guard Lizzy Cretella (Cheshire) and the resulting free throw on Eastern's next possession, and junior guard Sabrina LeMere (North Branford) hit a driving layup off a pass from Barry after junior guard Julie Jordan (Sterling) rebounded Jasmin Mitchell's missed three-point field goal to make it a 13-point, 53-40 margin with minute minutes left.
Eastern's win coupled with Castleton University's loss moves the Warriors into sole possession of fourth place in the LEC, a half-game out of third and a game behind co-leaders UMass Dartmouth and UMass Boston.
Trailing by two points late in the first quarter, Eastern scored the final six points of the quarter on freshman Jenna Serrantino's (Cromwell) three-point field goal and a conventional three-point play from Villard, and after the Owls missed four shots and turned the ball over once on their first five possessions of the second quarter, Serrantino drilled another basket from distance to make it 19-12 three minutes into the quarter.
Trailing by 12 early in the fourth quarter, Keene lost starting forward Jordyn Burke and reserve forward Abby Thut to their fifth personal fouls 39 seconds apart.
Villard shared game-high scoring honors with 11 points and grabbed a game-high ten rebounds, and senior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) contributed ten points and seven rebounds as the Warriors amassed a +17 advantage on the boards. Villard and Santagata combined on 9-of-13 field goal shooting. Cretella chipped in six points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench and Jordan had six points, six rebounds and three steals in 26 minutes.
Keene shot just 28 percent from the floor – including 8.3 percent (1-of-12) in the second quarter. Senior guard Emily McPadden was the Owls' only double-digit scorer, coming off the bench for 11 points, while junior forward Kenzie Bennett grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
Eastern visits defending LEC regular-season champion UMass Dartmouth Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.