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Warriors down Huskies in OT, 65-60

Warriors down Huskies in OT, 65-60

GORHAM, Maine – Senior guard Nicky Morey (Columbia, Conn.) scored a game-high 21 points, sinking 11-for-13 from the free throw line and five of six in overtime, to lead the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors to a 65-60 overtime win over the University of
Southern Maine Huskies in the championship game of the 2008 Little East Conference Women’s Basketball Championship Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium in Gorham.

With the win, second seeded Eastern Connecticut improves to 24-4 overall and captures the 2008 tournament championship to earn the LEC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. It is the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Warriors since the 2002-2003 season when
they earned an at-large bid. The Warriors last won the LEC tournament championship in 1996 when they defeated Southern Maine 56-53. 

The loss snaps the Huskies’ streak of 11 consecutive Little East Conference tournament crowns and drops top-seeded Southern Maine to 25-3 overall. Southern Maine will await the announcement of the NCAA at-large bids late Sunday (March 2) night. Southern Maine has
participated in the NCAA tournament 21 times since joining the NCAA in 1985, including the last 13 years consecutively.

Eastern Connecticut was clutch from the free throw line outscoring USM 9-4 in the overtime period, sinking 9-of-10 chances from the charity stripe, including a 4-for-5 effort from Morey. The Huskies struggled to put the ball in the net in the overtime period connecting on just 1-of-9
from the field.

Morey’s 21 points led three Eastern Connecticut players in double-digits. Freshman guard Jessica Moriarty (East Haven, Conn.) scored 15 points on an outstanding 5-for-7 effort from the field and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, while junior center Ashley McFetridge
(Canton, Conn.) added 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and three steals. McFetridge was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Southern Maine junior forward Stacey Kent (Northwood, N.H./Coe-Brown Academy) and senior forward Angela Santa Fe (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) each scored 13 points a piece to lead the Huskies. Kent added a team-high eight rebounds and a pair of assists. Sophomore forward
Becky Dixon (Pittston, Maine/Gardiner) scored 11 points off of the bench for USM, while senior forward Shannon Kynoch (S. Burlington, Vt.) chipped in with eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.

Trailing by five(49-44) following a pair of free throws from Morey with 7:29 to play, Southern Maine strung together a 7-2 run to knot the score up at 51-51 with 4:40 to play. Kent sank a pair of free throws to key the run and was followed by an offensive rebound and a lay-up from Dixon to leave the Huskies trailing by a point (49-48) with 5:28 to play. McFetridge, who was 6-for-11 from the field, drained a tough turnaround jumper to halt the Huskies run, but sophomore guard Nicole Paradis (Skowhegan, Maine) knocked down a three-pointer from the baseline to tie the score for the third time in the half and the sixth time in the game.

Both teams post player traded points over the next four minutes.  Southern Maine’s Kynoch made a pair of tough interior moves, while McFetridge tossed in a jumper and sank two free throws as the score remained in deadlock, 55-55, with 2:33 to play. Southern Maine took a
one-point lead on a Dixon free throw with 1:15 to play, but the Warriors’ Moriarity was able to match Dixon at the charity stripe with 1:01 to play for the sixth tie score of the game (56-56).

Both teams misfired on three-point attempts in their final possessions of regulation to send the game into overtime. Both teams were scoreless in the first 1:21 of the overtime, before
Moriarity put the Warriors on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws with 3:39 to play. Moriarity’s free throws were the points of the overtime for the next 1:30, before senior center Bridgette Durette (Seymour, Conn.) gave the Warriors a 60-56 cushion with a pair of free
throws with 1:33 to play. Southern Maine earned its first point of the overtime on the second of two free throw attempts from Dixon, but Morey pushed the Eastern Connecticut advantage to five (62-57) sinking the first of her five free throws in overtime.

The Huskies cut the Eastern Connecticut lead to three twice in the final 1:15 of overtime on scores from Kent, but Morey sank her final two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach for Southern Maine.

Eastern Connecticut finished the game shooting a solid 40.8 percent (20-for-49) from the field and was nearly automatic from the free throw line sinking 21 of its 25 attempts (84 percent). Southern Maine shot 33.3 percent (20-for-60) from the field and 88.2 percent (15-for-17)
from the charity stripe.