WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Six-foot senior forward Alicia Kutil had 15 points and eight rebounds in the second half to help the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth women's basketball team break free from a halftime tie and post an 83-75 Little East Conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Wednesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
With Little East Player-of-the-Year Nakira Examond playing only 12 second-half minutes after picking up her fourth personal foul, Kutil led the way for UMass Dartmouth (10-2, 4-0 LEC), which won its seventh straight game and remained atop of the conference standings with UMass Boston.
In playing just under 40 minutes, Kutil was equally dominant in both halves. En route to 31 points and 15 rebounds (11-of-22 from the floor, 8-of-9 from the foul line), Kutil had 16 points and seven rebounds when the teams played to a 40-all tie in the first half, and 15 points and eight rebounds in the second half.
Leading by a pair early in the second half, LEC pre-season favorite UMD outscored Eastern 14-4 to move out to a 61-49 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter. In that run, Examond had six points, junior guard Kailyn Milligan five and Kutil contributed her only three-point field goal.
Playing their first home game in a month, Eastern led by 11 in the opening minute of the second quarter. The Warriors shot 52.4 percent from the floor in the first quarter, and turned six UMD turnovers into 12 points. Sophomore guard Sabrina LeMere (North Branford) sank four of six shots from the floor to lead the 26-point first quarter with nine points.
Junior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) was charged with three personal fouls in the first half, which limited her to 11 minutes, with sophomore forward Mya Villard (Cromwell) playing the entire third quarter with three personal fouls before picking up her fourth a minute into the fourth quarter with Eastern trailing by eight points.
The inside presence of Examond and Kutil – ranked 2-3 in the LEC in scoring and among the LEC's top four rebounders -- was too much for Eastern (3-9, 2-2 LEC) to handle. In 31 minutes, Examond had 16 points and seven rebounds, with sophomore guard Ashley Brown adding 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Eastern, now 1-5 at home, got career-highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds from sophomore guard Julie Jordan (Sterling) in 40 minutes, and also a double-double from Villard, who totaled 19 points, ten rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. LeMere followed Villard with 18 points (8-of-16 from the floor) and Santagata totaled 16 points in 29 minutes.
Eastern visits the University of Southern Maine Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Little East contest.