BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A 14-0 second-half run helped the Saint Michael's College women's basketball team pull away from the University of Bridgeport for a 69-61 victory on Saturday in Hubbell Gym during the Bridgeport Conference Crossover Tournament. Both teams were opening their season in a meeting between the only two Purple Knights in collegiate athletics. Saint Michael's is now 7-2 in the all-time series.
Senior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) scored a game-high 19 points for Saint Michael's, including 14 in the second half, while classmate Maddy Bennett (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) posted 12 of her career-high 16 points by halftime. Junior Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) collected 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while sophomore Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) turned in eight points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. The visitors held the hosts to 33.3 percent shooting.
First-year Nicole Anderson (Kittery Point, Maine/Marianapolis Prep) tacked on seven points, and redshirt first-year Casey Evans (Londonderry, N.H./Saint Andrew's School) had eight rebounds in 15 minutes in her college debut. Junior Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) totaled six boards and six helpers, while sophomore Taylor Miller (Falmouth, Mass./Falmouth) rejected three shots.
Junior Samnell Vonleh turned in 17 points and 16 rebounds for Bridgeport, and sophomore Kadijah Dickson notched 12 points, nine boards and four assists. Senior Sofia Ermeidou totaled nine points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting.
A 5-0 spurt put Saint Michael's up 6-2 with 7:09 remaining in the opening quarter when Bennett drained a three-pointer, and the visitors countered Bridgeport's go-ahead 5-0 run with two-point buckets one minute apart by Purcell and Evans that made it 10-7 in their favor. Bennett tacked on two free throws and a lay-in nine seconds apart to create a 14-9 separation with 1:58 left, but the hosts tied the contest by the end of the stanza en route to scoring six straight points to go back in front 32 seconds into the second period on Dickson's free throw.
After the teams accounted for five lead swings in a 1:35 span, capped when sophomore Briana Stoddart hit a three to make it 20-18 at 7:53, Bennett responded with a lay-up 14 seconds later before Anderson knocked down a go-ahead triple at 6:29, giving the visitors the final lead of the half. Anderson's jumper at 2:04 concluded an 8-2 run that put Saint Michael's on top 31-24, and Anderson responded to a quick 5-0 Bridgeport spurt with a jumper as 33 ticks remained in the stanza, sending her team into the locker room up by a 33-29 count.
Two Spencer baskets 30 seconds apart pushed the Purple and Gold's lead to 41-33 with 7:26 to go in the third quarter before Ermeidou hit two threes in a tying 10-2 response, including knotting the contest at 4:34. However, three players scored in a 7-2 Saint Michael's run, with Delaney's jumper at 1:26 making it 50-45.
Spencer's three-point play with six seconds to go sent the visitors into the final period up 54-47, and she eventually scored eight of her team's points in a 14-0 run that bridged the period intermission. Bennett's freebie concluded that stretch, creating a 64-47 margin with 6:29 to go in the fourth quarter. The next 11 points came from Bridgeport players, including four by Jackson, whose lay-up at 2:14 produced a six-point margin, but the visitors hit five free throws in the final 1:16 while forcing four missed three-pointers.
Saint Michael's takes on the University of the District of Columbia tomorrow at 12 p.m. to complete play at Bridgeport's tournament.