COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team downed 2017 NCAA Tournament qualifier Assumption College, 67-41, on Wednesday in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights improved to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Greyhounds, who competed in four of the last seven NCAA Tournaments, are 1-4 and 0-4.
While opening up a stretch of five home games in a six-contest stretch, Saint Michael's was led by junior Emily Ferreri's (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting - including 3-for-4 from three-point range - with two blocks in 22 minutes, as the hosts rejected 11 shots, shot 41.4 percent and allowed 26.8 percent shooting. The Purple Knights forced 19 turnovers. Senior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) had 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes, shooting 3-of-5 from deep.
Sophomore Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) notched eight points, eight assists with no turnovers, five rebounds and two steals, and junior Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) turned in six points, nine boards and two blocks, passing Sarah Turkington '92 (102) to take over sixth in program history with 103 rejections. Sophomore reserve Taylor Miller (Falmouth, Mass./Falmouth) collected six points, five rebounds, five blocks and two steals in 18 minutes, first-year Nicole Anderson (Kittery Point, Maine/Marianapolis Prep) handed out three assists, and redshirt first-year Casey Evans (Londonderry, N.H./Saint Andrew's School) pulled five boards.
Senior Kiera O'Donnell led Assumption with nine points and five rebounds as a reserve, classmate Morgan O'Brien also scored nine points, and first-year Temi Falayi grabbed nine rebounds.
The Purple and Gold picked up just its fifth victory against Assumption since 1999, allowing the fewest points it has yielded in 61 all-time meetings. The 26-point margin of victory over the Greyhounds was exceeded only by a 27-point win on Feb. 8, 1992. Saint Michael's turned in its best defensive effort since allowing 41 points on Feb. 18, 2012, against Saint Anselm College, and matched its greatest margin of victory in an NE10 contest since a 43-point triumph at Le Moyne College on Feb. 18, 2004. The Purple Knights also downed Stonehill College by 26 on Feb. 12, 2011.
The teams exchanged four leads in the opening 3:26 of the contest, as neither led by more than three points until Purcell knocked down a jumper off of Ferreri's kick with six seconds to go in the opening quarter, extending the hosts' edge to 17-12. That continued what became a 15-0 run, as Purcell scored six points, Ferreri had five, and Spencer dished off two assists. Delaney capped the stretch with a putback at 7:10 of the second period, pushing the lead to 28-12.
After being held to seven points in a 13:03 span, Assumption saw O'Brien and O'Donnell connect on three-pointers 38 seconds apart, drawing the Greyhounds to within nine points, but Saint Michael's countered with an 8-0 run, as Spencer buried a three at 2:57 before Ferreri scored the final five points. First-year Meghan Reen ended the drought by knocking down a pair of free throws with no time remaining, but the Purple Knights led 36-21 at halftime. The hosts shot 8-of-16 and held Assumption to 2-of-12 shooting in the period en route to a 19-9 scoring advantage.
Saint Michael's extended its run to 16-5, allowing only five free throws in that time, as Spencer scored five points in the opening 3:13 of the third quarter, pushing the lead to 44-24. Delaney made a pair of free throws with 1:21 left to make it a 53-28 contest, and the Purple Knights' lead never again slipped below 19 points. With reserves playing 36 of a possible 40 minutes in the fourth quarter, the hosts held a 14-10 scoring edge, as Anderson scored four points, she and Evans pulled three boards apiece, Miller blocked four shots, and sophomores Alyssa Breunig (Trumbull, Conn./Trumbull) and Cassandra Falone (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) both hit threes.
The Purple Knights remain home to take on No. 3 Bentley University on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Falcons, who are third in both national polls while sitting first in the D2SIDA East Region Media Poll, finished as last year's NE10 Championship runner-up but have claimed five of the last seven titles. Bentley qualified for 33 of the last 36 NCAA Tournaments, including last season's.