PLYMOUTH, NH - The Western women's basketball squad wrapped up its regular season, falling at LEC foe Plymouth State, 68-64, in overtime on Saturday afternoon. Despite the loss, the Colonials earn the No. 4 seed in the LEC Championship Tournament and will seek to avenge the defeat when they host Plymouth - who captured the No. 5 seed - in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday at 5:30 pm.
Senior guard Samantha Smith (Wallingford, CT) paced Western with a team-high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds, while classmate forward Alecia Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT) added a game-high 11 boards. DeAsia 'Ace' Lawrence led the hosts with a game-high 17 points, while Annaliese Schmidt chipped in with a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds).
The Colonials started the game strong to conclude the opening quarter with a 14-13 lead. However, the Panthers stormed back in the second to seize a 28-20 lead when Maddy Beatrice hit a jumper with 2:18 left before the break. Western cut the into the deficit when junior forward Nicole Mierzejewski (Meriden, CT) knocked down a midrange shot of her own, setting the count at 28-24 at halftime.
Plymouth stretched the margin to eight once again when Savannah Miller drained a shot early in the third. Western retaliated with a fierce 20-9 run. Rookie guard Gabrielle Hurlbert (Thomaston, CT) got things started with a pair from the charity stripe before Smith rounded out the spurt with a layup, good for a 44-41 lead.
A Smith jumper midway through the fourth widened the gap to 50-44. However, the Panthers answered with a 10-0 run, holding a 54-50 lead with 2:59 remaining. The Colonials countered with a pair of layups from senior forward Alyssa Eannotti (Shelton, CT) and sophomore guard Tashai Price (Vernon, CT) that would eventually send the contest into the extra session.
After several lead changes in the opening minutes of overtime, Smith sank a floater to give the Colonials a 64-63 lead with 28 ticks left on the clock. The Panthers converted a three-point play just four seconds later when Cassiday Emerson was hacked while connecting on a layup. Plymouth would close it out with two free throws in final seconds en route to the win.
"We came out a bit flat and didn't have our normal defensive energy. We will ready to bounce back though," said Colonials head coach Kimberley Rybczyk after the effort.
With the loss, Western ends the regular season slate at 14-11 overall and 6-8 in league play, while Plymouth finishes at 8-16 and 5-9. The two teams will meet again on Tuesday at 5:30 pm at Feldman Arena. The LEC Semifinals and Championship will be played at the highest remaining seed, after Tuesday's Quarterfinals, on Friday and Saturday, February 24 and 25.