Women's basketball falls late to Merrimack, 72-68, during NE-10 action

Women's basketball falls late to Merrimack, 72-68, during NE-10 action

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team yielded the final four points of the contest over the closing 1:52 on Wednesday during a 72-68 loss to Merrimack College in the Ross Sports Center during Northeast-10 Conference action. The Purple Knights are now 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the league, while the Warriors improved to 4-4 and 1-2 in their first road game since Nov. 14.

Saint Michael's, which kicked off a five-game stretch during which four contests will occur at home, received a career-high 20 points off the bench from sophomore Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams), who shot 8-of-11, including 2-of-3 from three-point range. Senior Makenzie Burud (Red Hook, N.Y./Coleman Catholic) added 15 points behind an 8-of-8 showing on free throws with five rebounds and two blocks. Junior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) totaled 12 points and two steals, while first-year Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) had nine points and career highs of 11 rebounds and three blocks. Sophomore Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) posted six boards and two steals.

Senior Amanda Hoover and first-year Lexi Martin both had 19 points off the bench to pace Merrimack, with Hoover shooting 8-for-12 with seven rebounds and Martin turning in a 9-for-14 performance with four boards. They combined for eight offensive caroms. Senior Tia Scott notched 14 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and three steals.

A 7-0 run by the Purple Knights gave the hosts a 9-4 edge with 5:54 left in the opening quarter, as three players netted baskets. Merrimack first-year Hannah Neild buried a three-pointer to knot the contest at 15 with 2:11 to go, but senior Megan Gaudreau (Brooklyn, Conn./Pomfret School) hit a triple of her own with 51 seconds left and Evora dropped home a lay-in to push the hosts' lead back to five. Saint Michael's never extended its lead to greater than five points during the first half, as the Warriors used a 6-1 run to again tie the game, this time on Scott's lay-up at 5:21 of the second quarter. Burud countered with a pair of tie-breaking free throws 28 seconds later to give the Purple Knights the final lead of the half, and the hosts pushed their lead to four points twice. Senior Ashley Weissmann's jumper with 44 ticks to go capped the scoring, and Saint Michael's led 31-29 at halftime.

Merrimack forged ahead on Scott's lay-in 1:19 into the third quarter, and Burud's tying freebies were met by an 8-2 run by the visitors. Saint Michael's trimmed its deficit back to two points twice before the end of the quarter, but the Warriors utilized a 6-0 run that bridged the third intermission to lead 55-47 on Weissmann's bucket 1:09 into the fourth stanza. Scott's lay-up with 5:34 to go kept her team ahead by a 63-56 count, but the Purple Knights netted the next seven points, with Spencer scoring the first five before Evora canned two freebies at 3:33 to tie the contest. Martin and Evora traded three-pointers, and a Martin go-ahead hoop was met by two more Evora free throws at the two-minute mark.

Martin's jumper eight seconds later gave Merrimack the final lead swing, as the Purple Knights missed a tying try with 1:27 to go. The hosts earned one more possession before a turnover at 43 seconds gave the ball back to the Warriors, who hit one free throw at 10.5 seconds. The second shot from the charity stripe missed, but the visitors grabbed the rebound and hit one last freebie to ice the contest at 3.8 ticks.

The Purple Knights head to regionally-ranked Stonehill College on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. contest. The Skyhawks, who are fifth in the latest D2SIDA East Region Media Poll, qualified for the past three NCAA Tournaments.