Courtesy of the Western New England Sports Information Department.
BEVERLY, Mass. – The third-seeded Western New England women's basketball team outscored top-seeded Endicott 19-10 in the fourth quarter to pull away and claim the program's first Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship with a 69-55 victory over the Gulls in the title contest on Saturday afternoon at MacDonald Gymnasium.
With the win, Western New England (20-8) earns the CCC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which gets underway with first round action on Friday, March 1. The Golden Bears will find out their first round opponent during the NCAA's selection show, which airs on NCAA.com at 2:30 p.m. on Monday. Endicott's season comes to a close at 18-9.
The Golden Bears were led by junior forward Courtney Carlson (Woodbury, Conn.), who scored a team-high 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting and also secured a game-high nine rebounds. Carlson scored eight points during a key fourth quarter run that helped put the Gulls away.
Junior guard Emily Farrell (New Fairfield, Conn.) contributed 16 points with the help of a 10-for-13 effort at the free throw line, while sophomore guard Lauren Chadwick (Gardiner, Maine) added 13 points and four rebounds.
Senior guard Meghan Gilhool (Montrose, Pa.) turned in an impressive all-around performance as she finished with nine points, eight assists and seven rebounds while playing the full 40 minutes.
Endicott junior guard Emily Pratt (Gardner, Mass.) carried the Gulls offensively with a game-high 28 points, while junior Kaleigh Putnam (Wallingford, Conn.) produced 16 points for the home team.
Western New England struggled offensively in the first quarter, as the Golden Bears missed their first seven field goal attempts and the Gulls surged out to a 9-0 lead.
The visitors eventually settled in with the help of Carlson, who scored Western New England's first six points. Pratt buried a pair of three-pointers late in the quarter, however, the second of which put the Gulls up 11 (19-8) before a Farrell jumper made it a nine-point game heading into the second period.
After shooting just 26.3 percent in the opening frame, the Golden Bears connected at a 54.5 percent clip in the second quarter while limiting Endicott to 16.7 percent shooting.
Western New England started the second period with a 9-0 run, tying the contest (19-19) on a Chadwick three-pointer with 5:19 remaining in the half.
The Golden Bears tied it up again when freshman Grace Fisher (Rocky Hill, Conn.) pulled down an offensive rebound and went back up with a layup, before taking their first lead (23-21) on a Chadwick jumper with 2:33 on the clock. Western New England led by the same margin (28-26) at the break after Chadwick connected from beyond the arc in the final minute of the half.
The Golden Bears stretched their advantage to six (34-28) with a 6-2 spurt to start the third quarter, fueled by four points from Chadwick.
Endicott used a pair of Pratt triples to tie the game at 36-36, but Western New England quickly restored its four-point edge (40-36) as Farrell sank two free throws and Carlson made a jumper.
The Gulls tied the contest (44-44) again when sophomore forward Shannon Gilbert (Easton, Conn.) connected from deep with 2:14 left in the third, before Farrell completed a three-point play with just under a minute on the clock to put Western New England up three.
After Putnam made 1-of-2 at the charity stripe, junior Meghan Orbann (East Hampton, Conn.) drained a triple with ten seconds to go as the Golden Bears opened up a five-point lead (50-45) heading into the fourth.
Western New England clinched the title with a dominant fourth quarter, as the Golden Bears outscored the Gulls 19-10 and pulled away down the stretch.
Still leading by five (54-49) with 6:05 to play, Western New England took control of the contest with a 7-0 run that included six points from Carlson to open up a 12-point cushion (61-49) at the 4:17 mark.
A layup by Putnam on Endicott's ensuing possession made it a ten-point game with four minutes remaining, but the Gulls got no closer. Four Farrell free throws over the next minute pushed the Western New England advantage to 14 (65-51), and the Golden Bears weren't threatened late as they cruised to the win.
• Western New England outrebounded Endicott 44-27, including 17-6 on the offensive glass.
• The Golden Bears shot 4-of-8 (50%) from the field and made 11-of-17 free throws in the fourth quarter. Western New England held the Gulls to 5-of-15 (33.3%) shooting over the final ten minutes of play.
• This afternoon's win gives the Golden Bears their first 20-win campaign since 2005-06, Nicole Chaszar's first year at the helm of the women's basketball program.
(Games hosted by the higher seed)
Quarterfinals – Tuesday, Feb. 19
Semifinals – Thursday, Feb. 21
Finals – Saturday, Feb. 23
#3 Western New England def. #1 Endicott, 69-55 | BOX
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of nine full member and one associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.