PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior guard Lizzy Cretella (Cheshire) scored nine of her 12 points in a six-minute span in the second half that sparked a 15-6 run as the Eastern Connecticut State University women's basketball team remained unbeaten in the Little East Conference with a 69-57 victory over Plymouth State University Saturday afternoon at Foley Gymnasium.
A winner of four straight and four of five on the road this year, Eastern (6-2, 4-0 LEC) scored the first five points of the game and never trailed, but Cretella came off the bench to spark the team late in the third quarter as the Warriors defeated Plymouth (5-5, 0-4 LEC) for the 15th straight time, 33rd time in the last 34 games and 19th straight time on the Panthers' home court.
Eastern remains as one of two unbeatens in the conference and maintains a half-game lead in front of defending LEC regular-season champion UMass Dartmouth, which outscored host Keene State College 45-19 in the second half to post a 70-43 win Saturday.
With Eastern leading by seven, 36-31, Cretella scored from in close after freshman guard Danielle O'Brien (Rockland, MA) kept alive a missed shot by junior forward Mya Villard (Cromwell) to make it 38-31 with 4:35 left in the third. After a timeout, Cretella drove for two off a feed from senior forward Kelsey Santagata (Stamford), then converted a scoop shot with three seconds left in the quarter to push the lead to 11, 48-37 after three quarters. Fifteen seconds into the fourth quarter, Cretella drained a three to expand the lead to 14, 51-37.
Freshman guard Julie Keckler (Trumbull) led Eastern with 17 points, going 5-for-7 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the stripe. Villard and Santagata each chipped in 12 points, with Villard grabbing nine rebounds. Junior guard Julie Jordan (Sterling) led both teams with a season-high ten rebounds.
In a key sequence, O'Brien spelled Keckler after the latter went to the bench with her second personal foul with 6:45 left in the third quarter and Eastern leading by four. She promptly swished her first collegiate three-pointer to make it 36-29 with six minutes left in the quarter. After setting up Cretella with the offensive rebound two minutes later, O'Brien shook free on the weak side and dropped in a layup from the right side off an alert pass from Santagata to make it an 11-point game, 46-35, with 45 seconds left in the third.
Eastern faces Salem State University in the opening round of the Salem State Holiday Classic Dec. 29 at 3 p.m.