SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team stood tied with American International College with a little more than three minutes remaining in their Northeast-10 Conference Championship first-round game on Friday evening before suffering a 52-43 setback in Butova Gymnasium.
The Purple Knights, the No. 5 seed from the Northeast Division, ended the year at 12-15, tripling their win total from last winter. Now 16-13, the Yellow Jackets, who were seeded fourth in the Southwest, head to Northeast No. 1 Stonehill College for a quarterfinal on Sunday.
Junior Makenzie Burud (Red Hook, N.Y./Coleman Catholic) and sophomore Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) both had double-doubles for Saint Michael's, which was competing in its first postseason since 2012 and had lost its regular-season meeting with AIC by 21 points. Burud notched a game-high-tying 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three steals, while Evora had 11 points, 11 boards and two assists. Junior Megan Gaudreau (Brooklyn, Conn./Pomfret School) turned in six points and five assists, and senior Maggie Sabine (Litchfield, Maine/Oak Hill/Central Maine CC) had six points, five rebounds and three assists in her final college game.
Burud finished the season with 437 points, the eighth-highest total in program history and the greatest since Liz LeFebvre's '03 All-America senior season of 2002-03 (573). She heads into her senior campaign tied with Lynne Liebhauser '94 for 23rd in career scoring (858) while standing 22nd in rebounds (495). Evora's 72 steals this year were the most since Erica Kensey '04 had 98 in 2003-04. Sabine finished her career with 1,241 points, 798 rebounds and 249 assists in 92 contests between Saint Michael's and Central Maine Community College, where she was an All-America selection.
Senior Krista Ferrentino (East Longmeadow, Mass./East Longmeadow) posted 17 points and 12 rebounds for AIC, and junior Kamika Mason (Long Beach, Calif./Wilson/Cloud County CC) had 13 points, 13 boards and four blocks. Classmate Brianna Bishop (Suffield, Conn./Suffield) added 12 points and three helpers.
Sabine converted senior Kelly Frappier's (Colchester, Conn./Bacon Academy) pass for a tying jumper with 3:55 to go in the contest, producing a 41-41 score, but AIC scored 11 of the final 13 points. After dueling turnovers, senior Alyssa Roach (New Bedford, Mass./New Bedford) notched a go-ahead lay-up at 3:03 before Ferrentino rebounded a Purple Knight miss, and Bishop canned a three-pointer with 2:17 remaining. Ferrentino's lay-in at 1:23 pushed the margin to seven, but Burud put home a lay-up 19 seconds later to get Saint Michael's within 48-43.
A Yellow Jacket miss gave the visitors the ball back with 53 seconds remaining, but a three-point try was off the mark. Forced to foul three times just to have enough infractions to send AIC to the line, the Purple Knights rebounded the miss of the first freebie at 32 seconds while still trailing by five. However, another field goal attempt was offline, and Bishop and Ferrentino both hit two free throws in the closing 18 seconds.
An early 7-0 run keyed a 9-2 start by the Purple Knights, during which Burud, Evora and Sabine scored two-point buckets, with Evora converting a three-point play. AIC chipped within 11-10 on Ferrentino's three-point play at 9:56 of the opening stanza, but Saint Michael's later scored eight consecutive points to nab a 21-12 edge. Burud bookended the run with two-point hoops, and Gaudreau also buried a trey. After another Gaudreau three made it 24-18, AIC scored the final four points of the half, with Roach's two freebies at 1:19 capping the scoring.
Burud produced the first five points of the second half in the opening 51 seconds, and Saint Michael's led 29-22. Neither team scored again until Ferrentino's lay-up at 15:14, and Bishop knocked down a tying triple at 12:59. After Burud's hoop at 19:09, the visitors were held scoreless until Evora drained a three with 12:38 to go, her first of two tie-breaking treys in a matter of 1:59. Evora added two free throws before Burud's lay-up at 8:51 capped a 7-2 run that put the Purple Knights up by a 39-34 count. Bishop hit a jumper at 7:06 to kick off a game-ending 18-4 run before Mason ultimately tied the game at 5:50. Ferrentino's go-ahead lay-up with 4:18 remaining was met by Sabine's tying jumper, which set up AIC pulling away.