MERIDEN — Mariah Dunn of Meriden has carved out a nice role on the red-hot Eastern Connecticut State University women’s basketball team.
So much so, the 5-foot-10 freshman forward/center has been named Rookie of the Week in the Little East Conference for three weeks in a row.
“It means a lot,” Dunn said Tuesday. “I couldn’t have gotten this without my teammates and coaches. My coaches really pushed me in practice and that has carried over into the games. I will do anything to help the team win. That’s the goal: to win.”
Dunn is coming off of a huge week as coach Denise Bierly’s top reserve forward. Dunn averaged 10 points and six rebounds with an 81.3 free throw percentage (13-of-16) in an average of 21.0 minutes in three Little East Conference victories that kept the Warriors unbeaten in the league and stretched their winning streak to seven.
She had 14 points (8-for-9 from the free throw line) and five rebounds in 26 minutes at Plymouth State. In 23 minutes at Keene, Dunn had 11 points and a career-high eight rebounds and just one turnover.
Dunn has appeared in 13 games for the 12-2 Warriors. She is averaging 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in an average of 13 minutes. She’s shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 72.5 percent from the foul line.
Her scoring output has picked up considerably in Eastern’s recent eight-game winning streak. Dunn has poured in just over 10 points a game. Her minutes have also ticked up to more than 18 per contest.
Dunn graduated from Simsbury’s Ethel Walker School last spring.
“At the beginning, the transition was kind of hard to college basketball. My coaches and teammates helped me a lot.” Dunn said. “I’m just being composed and being mentally ready. People forget about the mental aspect of basketball. I have been super-energetic and ready to play.”
Dunn said it wasn’t an adjustment to come off the bench.
“I will play anywhere where coach wants me to play,” Dunn said of her role for Bierly, who is in her 26th year coaching ECSU. “She just tells me to be ready. I’m going to play my role whenever I’m in the game. I’m always going to be ready.”
Eastern plays a uptempo style of basketball with a strong emphasis on defense.
“That’s something we talked about since Day 1,” Dunn said. “We will play man-to-man or zone or press. It’s a lot of fun. The team chemistry has been amazing. We continue to learn how to play with each other on the floor. We want to keep this going.”
Eastern has a big game on Wednesday at home against Rhode Island College (13-1). Tip time is 4 p.m. Eastern and Rhode Island are currently the two top teams in the Little East.
Cheshire’s Lizzy Cretella is a senior tri-captain on Eastern. A 2016 grad of St. Paul-Bristol, the 5-foot-7 guard is averaging 8.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Cretella’s most prolific offensive performance this season was at home against Delaware Valley on Dec. 17. Cretella poured in 17 points in that game.
Platt grad Martha Chatman, a freshman, is also playing at Eastern.