COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team began its season by erasing a 20-point second-half deficit to claim a 60-58 victory over Queens (N.Y.) College on Friday during the opening night of the DoubleTree Tip-Off Classic in Ross Sports Center. In the first game of the day, Franklin Pierce University earned a 53-48 victory over Holy Family (Pa.) University, which received one vote toward the most recent USA TODAY national poll and qualified for 10 of the past 11 NCAA Tournaments. Every team in the tournament was opening its season.
First-year Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) had 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting with seven rebounds in her college debut for Saint Michael's, which hosted a tournament for the 30th time since the 1977-78 season. Senior Maggie Sabine (Litchfield, Maine/Oak Hill/Central Maine CC) posted 10 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double as a Purple Knight, and she also reached the 900-point plateau in her 66th career game between Central Maine Community College and Saint Michael's. Junior Makenzie Burud (Red Hook, N.Y./Coleman Catholic) had nine points and a career-high six steals, first-year Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) posted seven points, and sophomore Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) dished off four assists.
Redshirt junior MacKenzie Rowland (Cohoes, N.Y./Shaker) totaled 15 points, seven boards, five assists and three blocks for Queens, junior Kristen Korzevinski (New Hyde Park, N.Y./New Hyde Park) notched 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and sophomore Madison Rowland (Cohoes, N.Y./Shaker) added eight points and six steals.
Saint Michael's shot 56.5 percent in the second half, including 4-of-7 on three-pointers, while Spencer had 16 points after the intermission. Korzevinski's hoop with 13:11 remaining in the stanza handed the Purple Knights their largest deficit, 45-25, before they finished the game on a 35-13 run. In the final 12:59, the hosts shot 11-for-16, accounting for more than half of their 18 field goals, while Queens shot 4-of-13 with six turnovers in the last 11 minutes.
Key to the comeback was an 11-0 spurt over 2:27 during which Spencer scored six points, including converting Evora's breakout pass to make it 49-43 at 8:10. Spencer then scored six points during an 8-0 run, turning in the tying three-point play at 4:18. After Queens went back in front, Sabine knocked down tying and go-ahead free throws at 1:18, and Spencer nailed a freebie at 37.9 seconds to pad the lead to 59-57. MacKenzie Rowland and Burud traded free throws in the final 20 seconds, with Burud producing a 60-58 edge with 5.6 seconds left before a Knight player possessed in the front court with time remaining, but the player allowed time to expire as she worked to get an open three-point attempt.
Purple Knight junior Megan Gaudreau (Brooklyn, Conn./Pomfret School) buried a three-pointer 1:28 into the game for the contest's first points before Madison Rowland had six points during a 14-0 Queens run that took 4:48 to elapse. The visiting Knights led by as many as 15 points, at 20-5 with 7:47 remaining, before Saint Michael's chipped its deficit to single digits. With her team trailing 26-13, Burud had consecutive sequences of picking off a pass and swooping in for a breakaway hoop during a 14-second span, bringing the hosts within 26-17, but the Knights scored the final bucket to take an 11-point advantage into the locker room.
On Saturday, Franklin Pierce and Queens square off at 1 p.m. before the Purple Knights host Holy Family at 3 p.m.