Women's Basketball Drops Tight One At E. Conn.

January 3, 2008

Middlebury opened up the new year with a hard-fought 73-69 loss at Eastern Connecticut. The Panthers move to 6-2 on the year while the Warriors win their 11th straight and remain undefeated.

Having won its first 11 games this year by an average of just under 24 points and none by less than 17, Eastern raced to a 19-3 lead in the opening minutes against Middlebury (6-2) before the Panthers countered with an 18-4 run of their own to pull two within two points with four minutes left in the first half.

Eastern never trailed in the game and took a 12-point lead into the final four minutes of play before Middlebury got four three-point field goals in less than a minute, three by Emily Johnson, to remain within striking distance. After Johnson banked in a three-pointer to pull Middlebury to within five with 71 seconds left, the Warriors converted eight of their next ten free throws, with a pair by Ashley McFetridge with 34 seconds left pushing the Eastern lead to nine, 72-63.

After banking in her three-pointer with 71 seconds left, Johnson twice connected on three-pointers while being fouled inside the final 46 seconds, but both times missed the free throw.

Sara Paradis hit three of four free throws in a span of 13 seconds late in the game to help Eastern maintain the edge, and Stephanie Smith swished two after stealing the ball and getting fouled with 46 seconds left to improve the Warriors' lead to seven, 70-63.

McFetridge led Eastern with 20 points and both teams with 15 rebounds and also blocked three shots. Smith added 15 points and six rebounds and turned the ball over only once in 27 minutes.

Poor free throw shooting hindered Middlebury's effort to gain the equalizer in the final minutes. After senior guard Katie Fisher completed a conventional three-point play with a free throw with three minutes left, the Panthers missed their final five chances from the stripe. Middlebury was 10-for-20 from the line in the game, 6-for-14 in the second half. Eastern was 21-for-31 from the stripe in the game.

Johnson of Middlebury led all players with 26 points and contributed nine rebounds. Fisher followed with 18 points and six rebounds, while Lani Young had 10 points, five rebounds and three steals before fouling out with 12.3 seconds left.