COLCHESTER, Vt. - Saint Michael's College women's basketball senior Alexa Long (Waterford, Conn./Waterford) neared the school record for rebounds during a double-double performance on Thursday evening, and the Purple Knights held off the University of Bridgeport's late charge for a season-opening 64-61 victory in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple and Gold was victorious in the college head coaching debut of Shannon Kynoch, a native of nearby South Burlington who spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach with the program. Bridgeport fell to 2-1.
In the Purple Knights' first of three games in four days, Long posted 19 points and 21 rebounds, coming within five boards of Kelly Borch's '99 16-year-old school record. Long added two steals. Sophomore Makenzie Burud (Red Hook, N.Y./Coleman Catholic) posted a career-high 19 points behind 8-of-10 free throw shooting to go along with a career-best 11 boards, with six coming on the offensive end. Burud tacked on three steals. During her first contest since 2011-12, junior Kelly Frappier (Colchester, Conn./Bacon Academy) collected career highs of 11 points and six rebounds, including four offensive. A pair of Saint Michael's players made impacts in their debuts, with junior transfer Maggie Sabine (Litchfield, Maine/Oak Hill/Central Maine CC) snagging 10 rebounds and first-year guard Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) blocking three shots. Senior Cara Deroy (Hamden, Conn./Hamden) turned in three assists.
Senior Aziza Patterson (Teaneck, N.J./Manhattan Center) had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists for Bridgeport, and junior Tiara Aziz (Easton, Pa./Northampton CC) notched 12 points. Sophomore Shannon Holt (Holden, Mass./Wachusett Regional) collected a well-rounded 10 points, 12 boards and seven blocks.
Four straight points by Burud and a three-pointer from Long put Saint Michael's ahead by a 39-27 count at 18:26 of the second half, matching its largest lead, before Patterson notched five straight points and Aziz scored the next four to bring Bridgeport within 39-36 at 15:06. Patterson's fast-break hoop capped a 13-2 stretch, and the visitors trailed just 41-40 with 13:22 remaining in regulation. However, Deroy netted four straight points to spark a 9-0 run, and Saint Michael's still led 61-53 when Deroy dropped in a lay-up at 1:38.
Six straight Bridgeport free throws were met by a Burud freebie with 21.3 seconds left, and the visitors again cut their deficit to one, at 62-61, when Aziz floated a lay-up off glass at 9.7 ticks. Burud came down and hit a pair of free throws with 6.9 seconds to go and re-establish her team's three-point edge, and a Bridgeport player had an open look at a tying three-pointer at the buzzer, but the ball spun halfway down and out as time expired.
The teams exchanged runs early in the contest, with the hosts netting the first five points by 18:44 before the visitors scored the next seven. However, four different Saint Michael's players contributed a hoop during an ensuing 10-0 run, with Frappier's bucket making it 15-7 at 13:07. Burud canned a triple at 8:29 before Frappier made it 23-11 just 25 seconds later, and Frappier's two free throws with 1:16 to go kept her team in front by a 32-24 margin. However, Patterson hit a three 13 seconds later, creating a 32-27 halftime score.
The Purple Knights turn right around and open the three-team, three-day DoubleTree Tip-Off Classic tomorrow against Northeast-10 Conference counterpart American International College for a 3 p.m. non-league contest. Queens (N.Y.) College is also participating in the weekend tournament.