GORHAM, Maine - Sophomore Allison Coleman (Jewett City, Conn.) scored 34 points and Eastern Connecticut State University withstood a furious Plymouth State College second-half rally, and the second-seeded Warriors held off the third-seeded Panthers 82-76 Friday night in the semifinals of the Little East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament, hosted by top-seeded University of Southern Maine.
The win advances the Warriors to a 3 p.m. championship encounter Saturday against the host Huskies, who defeated fourth-seeded Keene State College in Friday's other semi-final, 63-51. ECSU, ranked #2 in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA national Division III poll, is now 25-1 while PSC drops to 18-8.
Coleman did much of her damage in the first half, scoring 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting and helping her team to a 41-33 advantage at the break. The Warriors led by 14 points (63-49) with nine minutes to play in the second half before PSC made a move, going on a 22-10 run over the next eight minutes to pull to within two points (73-71) with 44 seconds remaining.
Sophomore Deanne Prior (Scituate, Mass.) hit a lay-up for Eastern with 40 seconds on the clock, but PSC junior Jenn Pelletier (Derry, N.H.) matched that with a pair of free throws with 24 ticks on the clock. Coleman drained two free throws to put ECSU back up by four, but Pelletier answered for PSC with a three-pointer with 0:15 remaining to make it a one-point game (77-76).
The Warriors held on though, as Coleman and Prior combined to sink three free throws down the stretch and Prior hit a lay-up as time expired for the final margin.
Coleman finished with 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting, while collecting eight rebounds. Senior Joanna Debicki (Shelton, Conn.) added 17 points and a team-high nine rebounds, while senior Kristyn Grassi (Tolland, Conn.) contributed 12 points and seven boards.
Junior Courtney Albert (Hudson, N.H.) led the Panthers with 21 points and 11 rebounds, hitting 9-of-15 from the field. Albert also broke the PSC single-season scoring record, as she now has 419 points. The previous mark was held by Betsy Bruce, who scored 415 points in 1993-94.
Senior Megan Fournier (East Waterboro, Maine) also had a strong game for the Panthers, finishing with 16 points. She hit 6-of-8 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range. Pelletier chipped in with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists, and junior Whitney Morin (Derby Line, Vt.) added 10 points.
Plymouth State awaits a possible ECAC Tournament bid, which will be announced Monday.