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Bacon gets best of Ledyard girls in early-season matchup of unbeatens

Colchester — Ledyard came to Colchester at the end of last season and toppled Bacon Academy for a trip to the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I tournament semifinals.

That meant that Tuesday night, despite his team leading by 18 points in the latter part of the third quarter on an inbounds play to Marissa Nudd, Bacon coach John Shea wasn't taking any chances, using every timeout he had in the books the moment Ledyard began drawing closer.

"We can get beat by them very easily," Shea said of Ledyard. "They're a really good defense, real quick. They're not fun to play against. They're dangerous. They shoot the 3s. Athletic. They're a headache, that's for sure."

This time, it was a duller ache for Bacon, which hung on to a 61-55 victory in the ECC Division II game, led by 18 points, six rebounds and five assists from Nudd and a career-high 15 points to go with five rebounds for Ashley Lizotte.

Valerie Luizzi added 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals and Emma Mancuso had seven rebounds and five blocked shots for the unbeaten Bobcats, who went 18-for-26 from the free throw line. Bacon is 4-0 overall, 3-0 in Division II, while Ledyard, also previously without a loss, went to 3-1 overall, 1-1 in the division.

Bacon led 15-14 after one quarter and 32-26 at halftime. The Bobcats then went on a decisive 14-2 run to start the third quarter, getting contributions from several members of the lineup, as Lizotte highlighted the span with a 3-pointer. Bacon pushed the lead to 46-28, getting the margin to 18 for the first time.

Ledyard, which was content to settle for 3-point attempt after 3-point attempt early on — the Colonels were 4-for-15 in the first half and 6-for-23 overall from behind the arc, with the shots oftentimes coming quickly in a possession — then began playing its best basketball of the night. Ledyard was all arms and legs, creating havoc on defense and using its athleticism to get to the rim and also the free throw line.

With Tallie Williams pulling Ledyard to within 52-37 on a jump shot to end the third quarter, Clare Inyang then started the fourth quarter with a three-point play, pumping her fist when the shot fell and the foul was called. That brought the Colonels to within 52-40.

Ledyard would outscore Bacon 18-9 in the fourth quarter and most of it without Inyang in the post after she took a shot to the face and never returned to the game. The Colonels came within single digits on a 3-pointer by Williams at 57-49 and another shot by Williams from long range made it 58-52.

Shea used his final timeout with 1:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. Williams, who scored 10 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth, hit one more jump shot to pull Ledyard within five but Luizzi iced the game by making one of two free throws with 20 seconds to play.

"We didn't have a great practice yesterday. It just kind of came over into the game," Ledyard coach Mike Morgan said. "I like to give my girls the autonomy to shoot the ball; we usually make our shots. But we started out with our head down a little bit. Bacon played a hell of a game. They have two great players and a great supporting cast.

"I feel like we'll be back."

Lizotte, meanwhile, said that Bacon came into the season in general with confidence due to its experienced lineup and the connection that gives the Bobcats. Luizzi, a senior, and Nudd, a junior, are starting together for their third straight season. Lizotte and Mancuso are also seniors.

"I think we just needed to keep the energy up. We did a really good job of that," Lizotte said. "You've just got to stay composed, just play through it. We stayed confident and positive the whole game. We happen to get in our heads sometimes, but we kept a positive attitude."

"I've got some girls that play basketball year round. They're AAU, serious players," Shea said. "It makes the job for a coach ... you have more confidence in everything. They've been through some wars. We've just got to get better, keep working."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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