The Rhode Island College Anchorwomen Basketball team has captured their third straight Little East Conference Championship. A conference championship was not the only thing the Anchorwomen captured, as their win secured an automatic bid into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division Three National Tournament.
The Anchorwomen opened the LEC Tournament hosting the UMass Dartmouth Corsairs. The game started back and forth, as each team had an answer for every opposing basket. The first quarter ended 16-16, but the second quarter saw the Corsairs jump out to an early lead. The Anchorwomen battled back and grabbed a 27-26 lead to take into halftime.
The third quarter saw the Corsairs all over the Anchorwomen, as they took the game’s largest lead of seven points with three minutes remaining. The Anchorwomen trailed at the end of this quarter 44-39.
Back-to-back Dejah Middleton 3-pointers and two free throws by Angelina Nardolillo saw the Anchorwomen jump back out in front 47-44 early in the fourth quarter. This lead would change four more times down the stretch, but RIC came out with the win by a final of 66-60. Nardolillo finished with a team-high 16 points and 9 rebounds. Antonia Corsinetti and Izabelle Booth added 13 and 11 points respectively.
The Anchorwomen were then on the road to take on Easter Connecticut State for the LEC Championship. The Anchorwomen and Warriors each defeated the other during the season, which led to a coin flip to determine the one seed for this year’s LEC Tournament. The Warriors won the coin flip and held home court advantage throughout this tournament.
The first quarter opened up with Eastern Connecticut State getting on the board first, but three 3-pointers from Corsinetti and a Madison Medbury free-throw saw RIC jump out to a 10-4 lead. The Anchorwomen’s lead would grow to as many as eight points late in the first quarter, but the Warriors would cut that lead to just three before the end of the first quarter. The Anchorwomen led 16-13 after the first quarter.
During the second quarter, the Warriors cut the Anchorwomen’s lead to one point twice. Despite this, the Anchorwomen took a 29-22 lead going into the break, thanks to an 8-2 run late in the quarter. Corsinetti led the Anchorwomen in scoring during the first half with nine points, while Medbury tacked on eight points of her own. Jeniyah Jones led the team in rebounds at the half with six.
The Anchorwomen opened up the third quarter by pushing their lead to 11 points, but an 11-0 Warrior run shortly after saw this game knotted at 33 with 1:21 remaining in the quarter. Medbury restored the Anchorwomen’s lead with a minute remaining, but two Warrior free-throws saw this game head into the fourth quarter tied at 35-35.
A Corsinetti jumper once again gave RIC the lead, but a 6-0 run for the Warriors saw this lead change in favor of Eastern Connecticut for the first time since quarter one. Jones scored nine straight points for the Anchorwomen, making what Head Coach Jenna Cosgrove called “Some of the biggest plays of her life.” The Warrior’s lead lasted for less than a minute, as RIC tipped the score back to their favor, 46-41.
Jayda Bing pushed RIC’s lead to eight points, as she sank three straight free-throws. Nardolillo capped off a 14-0 run for the Anchorwomen, finishing a layup in the paint and giving them a 51-41 lead. The Warriors only cut the lead to as close as seven points in the final minute, as RIC grinded out a 61-52 victory.
The Anchorwomen finished with four players scoring in double figures. Corsinetti led the team with 17 points, while Medbury and Bing each had 11 and 10 points respectively. Jones finished with 10 points, along with a team-high 12 rebounds to capture the LEC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Cosgrove spoke to The Anchor after the team won its third LEC title in a row.
“Both playoff wins were true team wins, which is exactly what you want as a coach,” Cosgrove said. “We had huge contributions from players off the bench to spark us in both wins. A lot of players who haven’t played a ton, have stayed ready and have stepped up in big moments!”
Cosgrove believed that despite the Warriors and Anchorwomen being evenly matched, “Not winning the coin flip and losing at Eastern a few weeks ago I think gave us an edge and we played with that chip on our shoulder.”
She also reflected on the team’s overall goal since the start of this season, saying, “Our team's goal this season was to get back to the NCAA tournament and try and accomplish what we fell short of last year and that’s advancing in the tournament.”
The Anchorwomen now wait to find out their opponent for the first round of the NCAA Div. III National Tournament. The Selection Show takes place on Monday, Feb. 27.