NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA - The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's women's basketball team will try to go where it has never been before when it plays Western Connecticut State in the semi-finals of the Little East Conference Tournament Friday evening at Southern Maine's Hill Gymnasium. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 Friday evening, following the game between the top-seeded Huskies and fifth-seeded Rhode Island College at 5:30 p.m.
The third-seeded Corsairs, who enter the game with a 19-7 record, will be trying to advance to the LEC finals for the first time when they play the second-seeded Colonials, who also enter the game at 19-7 overall. Western Connecticut was 10-4 against LEC foes this season to UMD's 8-6, and the teams split a pair of regular season meetings. UMass Dartmouth won at the Tripp Athletic Center, 72-58, on January 5th. WCSU returned the favor, winning 74-48 at Feldman Arena February 2nd.
UMass Dartmouth, which set school records for wins (19) and conference wins (eight) this season, improved to 7-24 all-time in the LEC Tournament with its first-round win against UMass Boston Tuesday evening at the Tripp Athletic Center.
"We have achieved so many team goals this year and have enjoyed a record-breaking season to this point," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Amanda Van Voorhis. "We have a strong desire to make our first ever appearance in the LEC final. We have the skill set and talent for that goal to come to fruition."
Statistically, the Corsairs have made their mark this season, ranking second in the conference in scoring (66.3 points per game), field goal percentage (40.0 percent) and assists (14.6 per game), while ranking third in scoring margin (+8.1 points per game). UMD ranks second in in both turnover margin, at plus 3.58, and field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to 35.1 percent shooting from the field. The Corsairs lead the league in defensive rebounds (27.7 per game) and blocked shots (4.7 per game).
UMass Dartmouth will have play better than they did the last time they faced Western Connecticut in order to advance.
"Western limited everyone except (senior forward Colleen) Moriarty (Canton, MA/Canton HS) in Danbury," said Van Voorhis. "We can take a lot away from both our win and our loss to the Colonials. Defensive rebounding and succinct offensive execution are big keys to winning the rubber match. We need to impose our will to succeed this weekend."
WCSU has a bit more experience in recent LEC Tournament action, and is the only team to defeat top-seeded Southern Maine this season, but the Corsairs are looking to establish themselves among the league's powers this weekend.
"Western is a sound defensive squad and they have players that have gone the distance in the conference tournament," said Van Voorhis. "Every year takes on a different look in the LEC. Teams cycle from worst to first and shuffle in other ways. The landscape is always changing. We have worked tirelessly to take this program from the basement of the conference and establish ourselves as a contender. We continue to pursue the best talent in Massachusetts. We are as excited about the future as we are about the present. We are expecting to advance Friday night. We want to be a source of pride on campus and in the community of Dartmouth. "
The winner of Friday night's game will play the winner of the other semi-final Saturday at 4 p.m. with the LEC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament on the line.
UMASS DARTMOUTH BASKETBALL