Second Half Rally Comes Up Short as Golden Bears Fall to Nor’easters in CCC Championship Rematch, 76-62

Photo by Spartan SportShots
Photo by Spartan SportShots

UNE pulls away late after Golden Bears erase 12 points off 15-point deficit

BIDDEFORD, Maine (February 25, 2017) – The third-seeded Western New England University women's basketball team nearly came all the way back from a 15-point first half deficit, but top-seeded University of New England pulled away late to earn a 76-62 victory in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championship game this afternoon at Harold Alfond Forum.

UNE (23-5) earns the CCC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, which gets underway with first round action next Friday, while Western New England's season comes to a close at 19-9. 

Top Performers
• Junior guard Dorothy O'Neill (Staten Island, N.Y.) played all 40 minutes and matched her season-high with 19 points, connecting on 3-of-7 three-pointers and 6-of-6 free throws to go with two rebounds, two steals and one assist.
• Freshman guard Meghan Orbann (East Hampton, Conn.) led Western New England's reserves with a season-high 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe. Orbann also tallied two rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes off the bench.
• Senior guard Sammie Battaini (Leominster, Mass.) was the third Golden Bear in double figures with ten points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 from the free throw line.
• Senior forward Paige Young (Berlin, Conn.) contributed nine points, a game-high eight rebounds and three assists.

• UNE senior center Alicia Brown (Greenland, N.H.) led all players with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line to go with six rebounds, one block and one assist.
• Junior guard Sam MacDonald (Lebanon, N.H.) recorded 18 points, five rebounds and five assists, while freshman Sadie Nelson (Windham, Maine) turned in a strong all-around effort with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes off the bench.

Game Review
• Western New England scored the first six points of the contest and led 11-8 after O'Neill sank a pair of free throws with 2:51 remaining in the first quarter. The Nor'easters, who took their first lead (12-11) on a layup by Brown 32 seconds later, closed out the period with a 12-0 run and held a 20-11 advantage after ten minutes of play.
• The Golden Bears pulled to within six (22-16) on a layup by Battaini at the 8:22 mark of the second quarter, but UNE answered with a 10-2 run over the next two minutes, opening up a 32-18 lead.
• The Nor'easters led by as much as 15 (37-22) after a pair of Brown free throws with 3:42 left in the first half. Orbann scored Western New England's last six points of the second quarter, however, helping the Golden Bears cut their deficit to ten (42-32) at the break. The freshman led the way for the visitors with nine of her 15 points in the second.
• Western New England, which trailed by the same margin (48-38) three and a half minutes into the third quarter, used a 6-0  run to pull to within four at the 4:34 mark of the period. The Golden Bears got as close as three (51-48) on a jumper by O'Neill with just over three minutes on the clock, but UNE was able stretch its lead back to eight (56-48) heading into the fourth quarter.
• Senior forward Emily Anderson (Rocky Hill, Conn.) connected on a deep three-pointer early in the fourth, cutting Western New England's deficit to five (58-53). That would be as close as the Golden Bears got, as the Nor'easters responded with six straight points, including four from Brown, to reclaim a double-digit advantage (64-53). A three-pointer by McDonald with four minutes remaining made it a 13-point game (69-56) as UNE pulled away late to seal the win.

Notes
• Western New England was making its second consecutive appearance in the CCC title contest for the first time in program history. The Golden Bears fell to the Nor'easters in Biddeford last season, 56-41.
• Western New England, which shot 37.5% (18-of-48) from the field, was limited to 25% (3-of-12) shooting in the fourth quarter.
• UNE held a 39-31 rebounding advantage and scored 23 points off Western New England's 13 turnovers.