BURLINGTON, Vt. - After overcoming a 24-point deficit to lead with 1:18 remaining, the Saint Michael's College women's basketball team lost the lead 18 seconds later and had three go-ahead shots fall off the mark in the final minute of a 58-56 loss to Division I University of Vermont during an exhibition contest on Saturday in Patrick Gymnasium. The Purple Knights neared their first victory of any sort over the Catamounts since Jan. 30, 1985, a 78-41 regular-season triumph at home, and their initial road win against Vermont since Nov. 26, 1983.
Saint Michael's senior Makenzie Burud (Red Hook, N.Y./Coleman Catholic) led all players in the game with 18 points and 12 rebounds, including six offensive, while adding three assists and two steals. First-year Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) debuted with 14 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, one assist and one steal off the bench, while sophomore Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) recorded 12 points and six boards. The Purple Knights blocked seven shots while committing only eight turnovers.
Senior Megan Gaudreau (Brooklyn, Conn./Pomfret School) knocked down three three-pointers for nine points, sophomore Maddy Bennett (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) blocked a pair of shots, and first-year Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) dished off three assists.
Sophomore Sydney Smith tallied 15 points for Vermont, senior Kylie Atwood added 13, and first-year Hayley Robertson notched nine points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Gaudreau's three-pointer with 1:18 remaining completed the Purple Knights' comeback, giving the visitors a 56-55 edge, but Atwood hit two freebies at the one-minute mark to put Vermont back on top. Saint Michael's missed a go-ahead jumper at 48 seconds, but Burud snagged the board to give her team another chance. At 21 ticks, another miss was corralled by Bennett, and a final shot by the Purple and Gold with five seconds to go was rejected by Smith. Smith was fouled and went 1-for-2 at the line with two ticks on the clock, but Saint Michael's was unable to fire off a winning attempt before the buzzer.
With the college game moving to four 10-minute quarters this year, Vermont used an 11-2 run to pull out to a 13-4 advantage by the time 5:33 remained in the opening period. After Burud's jumper at 1:14 brought her team within 15-9, the Catamounts rattled off a 23-8 run that bridged halftime, with Atwood's triple at 9:21 of the third quarter making it 38-17 in favor of the hosts.
Vermont led by 24 points three times, each on points scored by Smith in the final 3:42 of the third quarter, before Saint Michael's forged its comeback by turning a 51-27 hole into a 56-55 lead thanks to a 29-4 run that took 9:50 to elapse. Gaudreau hit threes in that time, Burud had eight points, and Delaney tacked on five points. After a 10-0 run brought the Purple Knights within 53-41 at 5:52 of the fourth on Spencer's lay-in, the Catamounts responded with a hoop of their own 13 seconds later by sophomore Rachel Merrill, but the visitors scored the next 15 points, going ahead for the first time on Gaudreau's triple with 1:18 remaining.
The Purple Knights open their regular season on Friday at the two-day Shippensburg (Pa.) University Wolf's Bus Lines Classic, taking on the host at 6 p.m.