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Women’s Basketball Downs Endicott in Overtime Thriller

Molly Cronin

NEW LONDON, Conn. – Senior Sami Ashton (Clinton, Conn.) scored four points and found sophomore Claire Gulbin (Wilton, Conn.) for the deciding basket in overtime as the Connecticut College women's basketball team ended the calendar year on a high note with a 61-59 win over Endicott on Sunday afternoon at the Charles B. Luce Field House.

Ashton scored five of the Camels' last six points in regulation and forced overtime by sinking a free throw to knot the score at 55-all. Endicott had the ball with 23.6 seconds left and a chance to win the game in regulation after calling a timeout, but a drive by Kaleigh Putnam as time was about to expire was well defended by a herd of Camels. Ashton corralled the rebound, and the game headed to overtime.

The teams traded baskets in the extra session with Ashton opening the scoring at 4:34. Following an offensive board by junior Casey Walsh (Phoenixville, Pa.) which allowed the Camels to reset their offense, Gulbin received a pass from Ashton in the left corner and created her shot from just in front of the 3-point arc to put the hosts ahead by a 61-59 score. The Gulls once again had the ball for the last shot after two free throws rimmed out, but senior Dana Muckstadt (Dover, Mass.) blocked a shot taken by a driving Putnam in an effort to tie the score. Even though Ashley Howe (Saco, Maine) missed both of her charity shots with 2.1 seconds left after grabbing the rebound off the Muckstadt block, the Gulls did not have enough time to get another shot off to either win the game or force a second overtime.

The first quarter set the tone for the entire game which featured 16 lead changes and nine ties. Seven of the lead swings happened in the opening 10 minutes. Olivia Duncan gave the Gulls a 10-5 advantage at the midway point by nailing a trifecta, but freshman Molly Cronin (Wellesley, Mass.) was able to kickstart a Camel run by answering with a trey of her own at the other end.

Connecticut College, which trailed 15-14 through the first quarter, rode a 17-2 scoring run to open up a double-digit advantage by the end of the second. Ashton grabbed a rebound and finished on a fast break to put the Camels ahead by a 24-23 score with 4:20 on the clock, and Muckstadt put together an old-fashioned 3-point play in the final seconds to make it 35-25 at the break.

The Camels, however, saw their lead evaporate in the second half despite building up a 15-point lead at 44-29 through the halfway point of the third quarter. After Howe sank a 3-pointer to push the hosts ahead by a 49-36 score, the visitors rattled off 14 straight to seize back the lead. Emily Pratt caught fire by scoring the first eight points during the hot streak and capped the scoring by sinking two free throws to put the Gulls up for the first time of the half at 50-49. The Camels, however, were able to recover with Ashton leading the charge and accounting for nine points the rest of the way to eventually escape with a 61-59 win.

Ashton came just shy of a double-double by netting 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds to lead the way for Connecticut College. She also dished out two assists and had two steals. Gulbin contributed 12 and had eight boards, while sophomore Emily O'Sullivan (North Reading, Mass.) pulled down 10 boards and Cronin finished with 10 points to spark the bench.

Putnam and Pratt paced Endicott (4-5) by scoring 17 and 16 points, respectively. Both players pulled down five rebounds, while Putnam added four steals. Morgan Bresnahan finished with 10 rebounds, six points, and was among a combined five players in the game to block a shot.

Connecticut College (4-5) will next travel to compete in a two-day tournament at Babson over the first weekend of January. The team will first compete against nationally-ranked Geneseo State on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.