Senior Stephanie Houtman
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's women's basketball team defeated visiting Western Connecticut State, 60-57, in the first game of a Little East Conference doubleheader at the Tripp Athletic Center Saturday.
The victory secures the first winning season for the Corsairs women's basketball team since they went 13-12 during the 1992-93 season.
A nip and tuck first half saw the Colonials take a 29-27 half time lead into the locker room. After a three pointer by Colonials freshman guard Caroline Brasa (East Hartford, CT/East Catholic) gave the Colonials a 24-22 advantage with just over four minutes to play in the opening frame, the Corsairs answered back on a free throw from junior forward Colleen Moriarty (Canton, MA/Canton HS) and a layup by sophomore forward Erika Bornemann (Canton, MA/Canton HS) to pull ahead 25-24 with 2:09 to go. Colonials junior guard Nicole Eanniello (Danbury, CT/Danbury) nailed a three from the corner with just under a minute followed by a baseline jumper from sophomore forward Sciarra Brandt (Thomaston, CT/Thomaston) putting WCSU up by four but Moriarty beat the half time buzzer with a nice move in the post trimming the lead to just two at the break.
The Corsairs came out in the second half with a renewed intensity and dug in on defense. UMass Dartmouth regained the lead at 16:03 on a free throw by Bornemann but it was the tenacity of senior guard Stephanie Houtman (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS/Bridgewater State) that gave the Corsairs their largest lead of the contest at 51-43. After collecting her third offensive rebound of the half, Houtman was fouled on the put back and calmly sank two free throws.
The Colonials hung around though and would eventually take back the lead at 57-55 with 2:51 left in the game. Eanniello drilled a three and Brandt hit a jumper but it would be the last points the Colonials would score thank in part to some timely Corsair defense and the free throw shooting of freshman Kelsey Garrity (Somerville, MA/Somerville HS), who showed a lot of poise making five of eight attempts down the stretch and accounting for the final tally with the game on the line.
"I'm proud of where are right now and what we have accomplished," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Amanda Van Voorhis. "After all this team has gone through, we took a lot of small steps to get to this point and it starts with the players, not only from this team, but the ones who laid the foundation, like Madison Malloy, Vicki Andruszkiewicz and Tashauna Ashmeade. I told the team, now you have to expect more of yourself. We still have a lot to play for and a lot of goals we want to achieve. This was a great team effort and something we wanted really badly."
The Corsairs had four players reach double digits in the scoring column. Moriarty had a team high 18 points, Bornemann collected 16 points, Houtman added 12 points and Garrity chipped in with 10 points. Both Bornemann and Houtman had double-doubles finishing with 16 and 12 rebounds respectively. The Colonials were led by Brasa who had a game high 20 points and Brandt who finished with 15 points.
The Corsairs out-rebounded the Colonials 51-42, including 17-10 offensively.
The Corsairs improved to 14-7 and 5-5 in the Little East Conference with the victory, while the Colonials dropped to 13-8 and 5-5 in LEC play with the defeat. UMass Dartmouth will return to action when they host Rhode Island College Tuesday evening Western Connecticut will host Eastern Connecticut Tuesday.