Purple Knights rally for victory at Caldwell, close road-heavy opening stretch

Purple Knights rally for victory at Caldwell, close road-heavy opening stretch

CALDWELL, N.J. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team erased an 11-point deficit by outscoring Caldwell (N.J.) University by 20 points over the final three quarters of a 74-62 victory on Sunday in the Newman Center. The Purple Knights improved to 2-4, completing a season-opening six-game stretch during which five contests occurred away from home. The Cougars are 3-3.

Senior Megan Gaudreau (Brooklyn, Conn./Pomfret School) met career highs with 17 points and five three-pointers for the Purple and Gold, reaching double figures for the third straight game while shooting 5-of-10 from deep. She also dished out three assists. Junior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) totaled 15 points, six rebounds and two steals, shooting 5-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-4 on free throws. The Purple Knights held a 50-37 advantage on the boards, thanks greatly to senior Makenzie Burud (Red Hook, N.Y./Coleman Catholic) notching her third straight double-double behind 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, with five coming on the offensive end. She added four assists and two steals while moving into 16th in school history with 565 rebounds.

Sophomores Lyric Blanch (Kingston, N.Y./Kingston) and Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) both tacked on eight points, with Blanch shooting 2-of-3 on triples and Spencer turning in six rebounds and four helpers. First-year Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) contributed six points and five rebounds, while sophomore Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) had six boards.

Senior Nicole Angelo paced Caldwell with 18 points in addition to four assists, sophomore Karlie O'Driscoll turned in 16 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals, while classmate Kristen Drogsler had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Antoinette Pilla added 11 points. The remainder of the five Cougars to see action totaled just six points.

Angelo scored the opening hoop and dished to O'Driscoll for a 4-0 edge after 32 seconds, but Gaudreau twice hit a three-pointer to bring the visitors within one, and the lead was exchanged four times during one 1:17 stretch of the first quarter. Pilla's tying and go-ahead free throws sparked a 9-0 run, and Caldwell led 22-14 at the end of a stanza. Evora's jumper early in the following period trimmed the deficit to six, but Angelo canned a triple and Drogsler knocked down a jumper at 8:20 to make it 27-16. Pilla's three still had the Cougars ahead 32-22 with 5:52 remaining, but the visitors used a tying 15-5 run to end the half, keyed by two Blanch treys.

The teams swapped the lead four times midway through the third quarter, with Burud buckets providing both Saint Michael's edges, but a 7-2 run put the hosts up 49-45 with 4:06 remaining on an Angelo three. The Purple Knights ended the quarter on a 9-1 jaunt, as four players scored, with Delaney's put-back at 1:02 snapping a tie. Spencer's buzzer-beating jumper gave Saint Michael's a 54-50 lead heading into the final period, but the Cougars scored the first five points to nab an edge 36 seconds in.

However, Gaudreau fed Delaney at 9:10, putting the visitors ahead for good. Pilla's three later brought Caldwell within 59-58, but Gaudreau scored the next five points in a matter of 27 seconds, one more point than Saint Michael's yielded in the final 8:37 of regulation. O'Driscoll's lay-in created a 64-60 score with 6:43 left, but Akinpetide's defensive board led to sophomore Maddy Bennett's (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) bucket at 4:50 before Akinpetide hit a jumper 1:22 later to push the lead to eight. The Purple Knights never again led by fewer than six points, and Evora scored the final six points over the closing 1:52, including going 4-of-4 on freebies.

Four of the Purple and Gold's next five games take place at home, beginning against Merrimack College on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.