Taking the court anywhere for the first time since Jan. 23 and their home court for the first time since Feb. 22 of last year, the Keene State College women’s basketball team outscored Castleton University 15-7 over the final 10 minutes to grind out a 46-44 Little East Conference win over the Spartans Wednesday evening at Spaulding Gymnasium.
The Owls (1-1, 1-1 LEC) got off to a strong start, building a 16-12 lead after one, but then labored, scoring only 15 points over the next two quarters combined.
They came alive again in the fourth quarter, bursting out with an 11-0 run to turn a 37-31 deficit into a 42-37 lead over the opening 5:40, holding Castleton scoreless for a stretch of over six and a half minutes.
Freshman Jackie Alibrandi, who finished with 11 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal, sparked the surge by draining a triple on KSC’s opening possession of the final quarter and then followed with an old-fashioned three-point play on the next possession.
Michelle LaBonte connected on one of her three long-range makes a little over a minute later to put the Owls in front 40-37 with 7:28 to go, and despite not scoring again until 4:20 remained, two free throws by sophomore Hailey Derosia helped KSC match its largest lead of the game (42-37) that they had previously built in the second quarter.
A layup by Rylee Burgess off a feed from Derosia with 3:20 remaining still had Keene State in front 44-39, but Castleton had chances down the stretch, getting back within one.
After Katie Sullivan went 1-for-2 at the line to make it 45-43 KSC with 1:35 on the clock, the Spartans missed their next three shots with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Still leading by that same score, the Owls could not convert on their next possession, giving CU another chance to tie or win.
Burgess was called for a foul, but Castleton had to make both free throws to tie the game and missed the second.
Derosia finished with a team-best 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a steal on the evening for the Owls.
Alibrandi made 4-of-7 shots and scored all 11 of her points after halftime. KSC got nine points each from LaBonte, who also had eight rebounds, and Burgess.
Keene State next has a home-and-home set with UMass-Dartmouth (2-3, 2-2) this weekend. The first of the pair is Saturday in North Dartmouth, Mass. at 12:30 p.m.