WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The second-seeded Keene State women's basketball program added their names to the record books, as the Owls claimed the program's first ever Little East Conference (LEC) Championship title in a dominant 71-58 victory over top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State in Greissler Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon. It was the tenth straight win for Keene State.
- Keene State: 21-7, 11-3 LEC
- Eastern Connecticut State: 20-8, 12-2 LEC
"I'm speechless. It wasn't a goal for me to get MVP of the tournament; the goal was to get this trophy in my hands and to get my points and rebounds. It feels good to know that I did my job. We're ready to keep this momentum going and I hope we go far. I believe in my teammates and I know if we work hard, we are going to accomplish a lot more than we know." -- LEC Tournament MVP senior forward Stephanie D'Annolfo
"I didn't even think about getting the 1,000 points going into the game. I was more focused on getting the victory at the end of the day. I think this win just shows how much heart, effort and hard work went into this season. Coach has had teams come close in the past, so that just goes to show his coaching ability as well. This win showed our hard work and perservance throughout the whole season." -- Junior guard Sandi Purcell
"This win means that a lot of really special people have gone through this program, as a lot of alums were here today and I wish they would've gotten to experience it. I wouldn't be coaching today if it wasn't for them and the time and effort they put in to it over the years. I thought they were great role models for our current players. I am just as happy for them, as I am for our current players. The emotions are everywhere in a game like this. Our players put forth a selfless effort all year long and it shows. They play hard, they play together, and they play for each other. Nothing happens without chemistry and we have had great chemistry this year." -- Head Coach Keith Boucher
How It Happened
The Owls outscored the Warriors 16-8 in the first quarter and 19-14 in the third quarter to lift them to a dominating victory, as senior Stephanie D'Annolfo finished with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting with six rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and one steal to earn Most Valuable Player honors for the 2017 Little East Conference Championship Tournament.
Junior guard Sandi Purcell had a team-high 23 points with three rebounds and two assists, while senior forward Amanda Petrow tallied a double double with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and 12 rebounds.
The Warriors were led by Mya Villard off the bench, adding 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field with four rebounds, followed by Kelly Reardon, who chipped in 14 points with two assists and one steal.
Eastern Connecticut State fired off a three-pointer to grab the first points of the game, as Keene State trailed 5-3 early in the first quarter, before back-to-back baskets from D'Annolfo put the Owls up by a two, a lead they would never give up with 5:11 remaining on the clock. Keene State extended their lead to 13-6 after Petrow pulled down an offensive board and sent it right back up for a made basket. The Owls would limit the Warriors to just one more basket, as a last second layup from Purcell put Keene State up 16-8 after the first buzzer.
Jordyn Nappi cut Eastern Connecticut State's deficit down to two, 19-17, with a trey and eight minutes on the clock, but the duo of D'Annolfo and Purcell were unstoppable, as baskets by each pushed the chances of a Warriors lead out of reach. D'Annolfo converted the final basket of the quarter to lead the Owls into the locker room, holding an eight-point lead over the Warriors, 32-24.
Keene State extended its advantage to 14 points off a layup from D'Annolfo with 6:21 to go in the third quarter, as Eastern Connecticut State ignited fo a 8-2 run that closed the gap to eight, 42-34, before Purcell regained the double-digit lead for the Owls with a trey from beyond the arc, as Keene State pushed the score to 51-38 to end the third.
Reardon fired off a three-pointer to bring the Warriors within seven, 51-44, with just over eight minutes to go, but the Owls went on a 12-2 run to earn their largest lead of 17 with 5:21 on the clock, capped off by a three-point play from freshman forward Kenzie Bennett, two baskets from the charity stripe from Purcell, and a driving layup from junior guard Lydia Vital to make it 63-46, as Keene State cruised to their first LEC title in the remaining minutes.
Inside the Paint
- The win gives the Owls the first LEC tournament crown in program history, and the third NCAA appearance. Keene State earned an at-large bid in 1999 and 2007.
- D'Annolfo earned MVP honors by averaging 18 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals and three blocks over the three LEC tournament games.
- With her 17th point in the third quarter with 2:37 remaining, junior guard Sandi Purcell scored her 1,000th point, becoming the 20th women's basketball player from Keene State in history to achieve the 1,000-point mark.
- The Owls held a 44-29 advantage on the glass over the Warriors, as Keene State shot a commanding 44.1% (26-59) from the floor, while Eastern Connecticut State went 36.7% (22-60) from the field.
- The Owls earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament and will find out when and where they play tomorrow, Monday, February 27th, when selections are announced at 2:30 p.m. The selection show can be viewed here.
- The Warriors will look for an at-large bid at the NCAA selection show on Monday.