DANBURY, Conn. -- Sophomore forward Mya Villard (Cromwell) and junior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford) combined to sink their first 11 shots to stake the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team to an early 11-point lead, but Western Connecticut State University scored 29 points off 30 Eastern turnovers in the Colonials' 88-81 Little East Conference victory Wednesday night at Feldman Arena.
Eastern (10-14, 7-6 LEC) entered the game already assured of no worse than fourth place and a first-round conference home game Tuesday, and Western (11-13, 4-9 LEC) was already assured no better than fifth place and a first-round tournament road game. Fourth-seeded Eastern will host the No. 5 seed -- either Western or Keene State College -- at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Playing its third game in five days, Western won for the first time in its last seven games and ended a nine-game losing streak at the hands of Eastern, which had posted a 110-94 victory over the Colonials Jan. 24 at Geissler Gym.
Behind Villard and Santagata Wednesday, Eastern scored the first eight points and led by ten late in the first half, before Western used a 13-4 run to cut the gap to one, 40-39, at halftime. The games was tied four times early in the second half, but Western used a 15-2 run over three minutes to charge to a 13-point, 60-47 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Warriors got as close as four points three times thereafter, the last time with 1:37 left.
Villard finished with 33 points (14-of-21 FG) -- two shy of her career-high -- to lead all scorers, with Santagata totaling 14 points (7-of-9 FG), but only two in the second half. Villard also led both teams with 15 rebounds. Santagata added eight rebounds and five assists.
Frances Snyder (17), Jancy Sherwood (16) and Faith Thurmond (16 off the bench) combined for 49 of Western's points. The Colonials were outrebounded by ten but scored 24 points off 22 offensive rebounds and used 23 steals to help force 30 Eastern turnovers, collecting 29 points off those miscues. Utilizing only three substitutes, Eastern was outscored 52-8 off the bench.
Eastern closes out the regular season Saturday, hosting the University of Southern Maine in a conference game at 1 p.m.