FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

February 25, 2012

 

ANCHORWOMEN WIN FIRST-EVER LITTLE EAST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP
Riley Named Most Outstanding Player as RIC Clinches
First NCAA Appearance Since 1985

Providence, R.I.-Senior forward Rachel Riley (Coventry, RI) was named the Most Outstanding Player as top-seeded Rhode Island College knocked off second-seeded Southern Maine, 50-44, in the 2012 Little East Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship game played at The Murray Center on Saturday.

 

With the win over Southern Maine (21-6), Rhode Island College (24-3) earned its first-ever Little East Conference Tournament title in the league’s 26-year history. The Anchorwomen receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which will be the third tournament appearance in program history and the first since 1985 (1983).

 

 

 

Rhode Island College, which remains undefeated at The Murray Center with a perfect 13-0 home record on the season, will find out its next opponent and where it will play when the NCAA announces the 64-team field for the 2012 Div. III Women’s Basketball Tournament on Monday, Feb. 26.  

 

 "We knew winning today would not be easy, but our kids proved up to the task again with an intense and passionate defensive effort," RIC Head Coach Marcus Reilly said. "To hold the top scoring team in our conference almost 30 points below their season average will always put you in a position to win, especially in the biggest games. I'm extremely proud of this group of kids not only for the win, but the manner they have represented our school and community in securing the first regular season and, now, conference tournament in program history."

 

After the first 12 minutes of action featured five lead changes and four ties, senior guard Stephanie Coro (North Providence, RI) drained a baseline jumper to give RIC a 14-13 lead with 7:38 remaining in the half. From there, Rhode Island College closed out the half on an 11-5 run, as a three-pointer from senior guard Cynthia Gaudet (Coventry, RI) with 58 seconds left made it, 23-17.

 

 

 Senior forward Rachel Riley Receives the 2012 Little East Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player Award from RIC President Nancy Carriuolo.

 

Senior guard Renee Nicholas (Sebago, ME) sank a single free throw on the other end with 38 seconds on the clock to cut the margin to five, but a basket from Riley with 26 seconds remaining gave RIC its largest lead of the half and sent the hosts into the break with a 25-18 lead. USM coughed it up 12 times in the first half, compared to just six turnovers for the Anchorwomen. Both teams shot just 32 percent through the first 20 minutes.

 

In the second half, the Anchorwomen extended their lead to double-digits on several occasions to begin the frame. A three-pointer in transition from Coro with 13:31 on the clock put RIC on top by 11, 38-27, but the Huskies stormed back to rattle off eight unanswered points, capped off by a bucket from senior forward Courtney Cochran (Waite, ME) with 10:52 remaining that trimmed the deficit to just three.

 

 

 Senior Rachel Riley, Cynthia Gaudet, Nicole Girard, Brittany Saccoccio, junior Courtney Burns and senior Stephanie Coro accept the 2012 Little East Conference Tournament Championship Award from RIC President Nancy Carriuolo.

 

RIC bounced right back to increase its lead to seven as junior guard Ashley O’Dell (Lincoln, RI) drained a trey and added a single free throw moments later to make it, 42-35, with 8:26 left to play. Less than three minutes later, a three-point play from junior forward Courtney Burns (Rockland, MA) gave the Anchorwomen a 45-35 advantage with just 5:48 remaining. Yet, the resilient Huskies would not go away, as Cochran buried a pair of free throws and Nicholas connected on a layup to make it just, 45-39, with 4:51 on the clock.

 

Leading by six, Riley added to the Anchorwomen advantage with an acrobatic layup that put RIC on top by eight, 47-39, with 4:32 left to play. However, junior forward Haley Jordan (Falmouth, ME) answered back with five straight points, including a three-pointer from the top of the key, to once again make it just a three point game with 1:56 remaining.

 

With her team holding a slim, 47-44, lead, Riley banked a fade-away jumper off the glass with 1:32 on the clock to put the Anchorwomen up by five. After Gaudet added a single free throw with 1:06 remaining to make it, 50-44, Rhode Island College used stifling defense to shut down the Huskies in the final minute and thwart any chance of a comeback.

 

Riley notched 14 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals to lead the Anchorwomen, while Gaudet added 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Burns posted 11 points and six boards, while O’Dell chipped in with six points off the bench. Coro recorded five points and five rebounds, while senior guard Nicole Girard (Foster, RI) dished out a game-high seven assists.

 

Jordan registered a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds for USM, while Cochran added 14 points and eight boards. Sophomore guard Erin McNamara (West Newbury, MA) finished with six points and three assists, while Nicholas contributed with five points and six rebounds.

 

USM outrebounded RIC, 43-30, but committed 18 turnovers on Saturday, while Rhode Island College turned it over just 11 times. As a team, RIC finished with 15 assists, 10 steals, and eight blocks.

 

The Anchorwomen shot 34 percent (18-for-53) on the day, while the Huskies shot just 31 percent (15-for-49) from the floor.

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