WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Eastern Connecticut State University (20-7) shot 58.3% from the floor in the fourth quarter to overcome Western Connecticut State University (15-12) by a 58-52 score in a semifinal round game of the Little East Conference women's basketball tournament on Saturday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
Western was led by junior Kaitlyn LaBonte (South Windsor) with 12 points. She scored eight of her team-high 12 points in the first half of play
The visitors took a 4-3 lead following a jumper from LaBonte with 6:30 remaining in the first quarter. By the period's end, WestConn held a five-point advantage, 17-12.
With just under four minutes left in the first half, Smith hit a bucket in the paint to expand the Colonials lead to 13 points, 31-18.
Kelly Reardon connected on the back end of two free throws with time expired in the second stanza to cut the Warriors' deficit to eight points, 32-24.
LaBonte canned a pair of free throws with 7:34 remaining in regulation to give the Colonials a 44-41 lead, but the Warriors took control from there. They outscored WestConn, 17-8 the rest of the way, including a pair of freebies from Jordyn Nappi with 23 seconds left. Those point proved to be the game's last.
Intermission proved bountiful for Eastern as it scored 10 of the third quarter's first 11 points to draw within a point, 34-33, following a lay in from Julia DePoi.
The Colonials, which came into the LEC Tournament ranked fourth, finish the season at 15-11.
Junior Kelly Reardon (Holyoke, MA) led the Warriors with 14 points, seven coming over a three-minute span of the fourth quarter that saw Eastern's lead swell from one-point to eight-points.
Eastern also received double-digit scoring from sophomore Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) and freshman Mya Villard (Cromwell), who each had 10 points. The Eastern defense continued its season long solid play, holding Western to 28.4% shooting from the floor for the game.
Eastern will play in the Little East Conference championship game on Sunday at 2:00pm at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium against #2 Keene State College which defeated UMass-Dartmouth, 66-61 in the nightcap on Saturday.