KEENE, NH - Junior guard Kaitlyn LaBonte (South Windsor, CT) netted a game-high 26 points as the Western women's basketball team staged a late fourth quarter rally that came up just short, falling at LEC foe Keene State, 65-62, on Saturday afternoon. Trailing by 11 with 3:43 remaining, LaBonte caught fire, draining four trifectas, cutting the lead to 63-62. However, the Owls grabbed a key offensive rebound and converted a pair of free throws in the waning seconds en route to victory.
Senior guard Emily Dobson (Westerly, RI) finished with 10 points and six rebounds, while classmate Samantha Smith (Wallingford, CT) tallied eight points, seven boards and four assists for the Colonials. Sophomore guard Tashai Price (Vernon, CT) and rookie Gabrielle Hurlbert (Thomaston, CT) chipped in with seven points apiece. Emily McPadden paced Keene State with 22 points.
The contest was deadlocked at 17-17 to end the opening quarter. The Owls put together a 17-4 run in the second stanza capped with a layup by Stephanie D'Annolfo, giving the hosts a 34-21 lead at halftime. The gap widened to 52-37 when Josie Amerson knocked down a pair from the charity stripe to end the third quarter.
Western would unleash a barrage from beyond-the-arc to get back into the game in the final quarter. Hurlbert ignited the flurry after taking a feed from Dobson, cutting it to 54-42. Moments later, LaBonte tallied the first of her four trifectas in the quarter (finishing with eight for the game) with 7:08 left on the clock to make it 54-47. Shortly thereafter, Smith and Dobson each found LaBonte at nearly the same spot on the right wing for three consecutive from downtown. With 1:21 remaining, she then swished yet another trifecta, this time from the left wing, off a kickout from a driving Smith, shrinking the margin to 63-62.
The hosts then misfired but grabbed a key offensive rebound to take a hefty amount of time off the clock, before another missed shot with 11 seconds remaining. The Colonials snagged the rebound and quickly pushed the ball past half court, but the Owls came up with a steal at the top of the key with two seconds left and subsequently buried a pair of free throws to round the scoring out at 65-62.
"We got ourselves into a hole and were forced to fight back. Unfortunately, we came up just short," said Colonials head coach Kimberley Rybczyk after the defeat.
With the loss, Western dropped to 13-10 overall and 5-7 in conference play, while Keene State improved to 16-7 and 9-3. The Colonials return to action for their regular season home finale on Play4Kay Night when they meet Rhode Island College on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.