DANBURY, CT - Senior Samantha Smith (Wallingford, CT) led the Western Connecticut State University women's basketball team with 14 points, but the Colonials comeback bid fell short and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth prevailed, 66-56 on Senior Day at Feldman Arena on Saturday.
Prior to the start of the game, five seniors were honored, Emily Dobson (Westerly, RI), Alecia Dulaire (Bloomfield, CT), Alyssa Eannotti (Shelton, CT), Smith and former Colonials' point guard Colleen Cosker (East Hartford, CT).
Joining Smith in double figures in the scoring column was freshman guard Gabrielle Hurlbert (Thomaston, CT) who finished with 12 points.
The Corsairs, now 18-3 overall and 8-2 in the Little East Conference, led the entire contest including running out to a 14-2 advantage, following a free throw from Chelsea Houlihan (Wolcott, CT), with just 3:40 elapsed on the game clock.
After trailing by 10 points at the end of the first quarter, Western battled back and cut its deficit to three points, 33-30 following a three-pointer from Hurlbert with 31 remaining before intermission.
A short jumper by Eannotti 1:17 into the third quarter matched the closest the Colonials would get the rest of the way, three points, 35-32.
UMass Dartmouth went on to score 17 of the games next 23 points over seven minutes to increase its lead to 14 points when Kailyn Milligan (Lakeville, MA) drained the front end of two free throws.
As is true of any Kimberley Rybczyk coached team, the Colonials would not roll over.
A lay up by Smith with 2:56 remaining in the game drew Western to within four points, 58-54, but the Corsairs converted on all of their free throws in the closing minute of play.
Leading the way for the winners was sophomore forward Nakira Examond (New Bedford, MA) who had a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. She came into Saturday's game leading the LEC in scoring and rebounding with averages of 16.6 and 10.9, respectively. After connecting on 9-of-12 attempts from the field, she will remain atop the league with a .644 shooting percentage.
Alicia Kutil (Franklin, MA) and Rachel McCarron (Groton, MA) added 15 and 10 points, respectively for the Corsairs.
Western falls to 13-8 overall and 5-5 in the league. It travels to intra-state rival Eastern Connecticut State University on Wednesday for a 5:30 pm meeting with the Warriors. UMD travels to nearby Rhode Island College on February 8, also a 5:30 pm tip.