MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team overcame a 16-point halftime deficit to lead with a little more than two minutes remaining before allowing the final eight points to regionally-ranked Saint Anselm College in a 60-54 loss on Tuesday in Stoutenburgh Gym. The Purple Knights are 4-5 overall and 1-5 in the Northeast-10 Conference while standing pat with 499 all-time wins, and the Hawks improved to 6-3 and 4-2 as the ninth-ranked squad in the latest D2SIDA East Region Media Poll.
Junior Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) totaled 14 points on 7-of-15 shooting with two blocks for the Purple and Gold, which has now seen each of its past nine meetings with Saint Anselm decided by eight points or less. Classmate Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) turned in 11 points, six rebounds and three assists while shooting 6-of-8 on free throws, and senior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) had 10 points - including eight in the third quarter - to go along with 10 rebounds and four assists. It was Spencer's third career double-double.
Senior Maddy Bennett (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) notched nine rebounds and three assists, while first-year Nicole Anderson (Kittery Point, Maine/Marianapolis Prep) totaled eight points thanks to 2-of-3 three-point shooting off the bench. Saint Michael's outshot the hosts, 38.6 percent to 32.8 percent, but went 7-of-10 on free throws to the Hawks' 17-for-26 performance. The visitors held a 32-30 edge in paint points.
Sophomore Shannon Ryan posted 17 points and nine rebounds for Saint Anselm, and junior Emma Daly scored 10 points off the bench. First-year Peyton Steinman contributed eight points, six boards and three assists as a reserve.
After trailing 37-21 at halftime, the Purple Knights held a 21-10 scoring advantage in the third quarter, as Saint Anselm never scored on consecutive possessions. Spencer scored four points in a 6-0 run that started the frame before her back-to-back buckets 24 seconds apart cut the deficit to 41-34 at 4:24. Steinman later hit two free throws to push the lead back to nine, but Anderson buried two triples in 33 seconds to make it 45-42.
Saint Michael's fell behind again by as many as five points three times before using a 6-0 run to nab the lead, with Delaney dropping in four points, including the go-ahead jumper at 4:16 of the fourth quarter. Ryan's free throw tied the game at 52 with 2:46 left, but Ferreri answered with a lay-in at 2:20. However, Ryan scored the next seven points, tying the game on the next possession and putting the Hawks up for good at 1:39 following a Purple Knight miss. Another unsuccessful shot by the visitors led to a three-point play from Ryan with 54 seconds to go, making it 59-54, and the visitors committed a turnover while missing two shots over the final 44 seconds.
Neither team led by more than four points until Saint Anselm extended an 8-6 lead on the strength of a 13-2 run that continued into the second quarter. After the Hawks pushed their cushion to 24-10, the Purple Knights rallied to within six with a 9-1 stretch, keyed by Ferreri's seven points. Daly responded with a three before Ferreri hit two free throws to keep her team within 28-21, but four Hawks scored during a half-ending 9-0 run, with Daly burying a three-pointer in the final four seconds to create the 16-point margin at intermission.
The Purple Knights play their next three games at home, first taking on Merrimack College on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for their final contest until Dec. 29.