Women's basketball's second-half comeback falls short in 87-82 loss

Women's basketball's second-half comeback falls short in 87-82 loss

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team's second-half comeback effort fell shy in an 87-82 loss at Southern Connecticut State University on Wednesday in Moore Field House during Northeast-10 Conference play. The Purple Knights had their two-game winning streak snapped in falling to 5-7 overall and 2-6 in the league, while the Owls are 10-5 and 3-4.

Sophomore Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) netted a career-high 25 points for Saint Michael's during her third career 20-point game, all in the last six contests, shooting 9-of-17 from the field and 6-of-6 on free throws while adding five rebounds and three assists. Senior Megan Gaudreau (Brooklyn, Conn./Pomfret School) shot 5-of-10 overall and 4-of-8 from three-point range en route to 14 points. With 148 career triples, she passed Anne Marie McLoughlin '91 (147) for fifth in school annals.

Junior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) had 12 points on 7-of-10 free throw shooting with three assists, and first-year Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) had 10 points while going 6-of-6 on freebies. Senior Makenzie Burud (Red Hook, N.Y./Coleman Catholic) notched nine points, six rebounds and two steals, while sophomore reserve Maddy Bennett (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) totaled six points and five boards. The Purple Knights shot 22-of-27 on free throws for the game and 53.3 percent from the field in the second half.

Junior Maria Weselyj notched 24 points off the Southern Connecticut State bench, shooting 8-of-11, while senior Jackie Beathea totaled 13 points and 15 rebounds. Classmate Danielle Powell added 14 points and seven boards, and sophomore Paige Decker notched nine points and five steals. Senior Nicole Grossbard handed out six assists with three steals.

Gaudreau hit a pair of three-pointers in the early portion of the contest, knotting the game at five and nailing a go-ahead triple to cap an 8-2 run and give the visitors a 10-7 edge 2:30 into the game. Spencer later followed with a trey and Evora's jumper pushed the lead to 15-9 at 4:22 of the opening quarter. The Owls trimmed their deficit to one on Weselyj's three-pointer with 1:24 to go, but Bennett beat the buzzer with a jumper to keep the Purple Knights ahead 19-16 after one. Spencer and first-year Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) netted the first two buckets of the second to push the Saint Michael's advantage to 23-16, but Weselyj scored the next four points and first-year Amanda Pfohl hit a tying three at 4:58.

Burud's free throw snapped the knot just 16 seconds later, and Gaudreau nailed her third three of the half to push the lead to 27-23, but Weselyj scored the first six points of a 10-1 run that took 1:53 to elapse, and Southern Connecticut State went up by as many as five in the final two minutes of the half. Evora's freebie with five seconds remaining created a 35-31 Saint Michael's deficit at halftime.

The Purple Knights never trailed by more than nine points in a high-scoring second half, during which the teams combined for 103 points and shot better than 53 percent, but were unable to chip their deficit to fewer than three at any point. Evora hit four straight free throws during a 16-second stretch to bring her squad within 46-43 at 5:13 of the third, the first of three three-point margins within a 1:52 span, but the Owls extended a 50-47 edge to nine with a 10-4 spurt.

Saint Michael's still trailed by nine, at 72-63, with 4:19 remaining in regulation before Bennett dropped home a lay-in and Gaudreau nailed a three at 3:01, but Weselyj responded with a three of her own, and Southern Connecticut State led 79-71 on two Beathea freebies at 55 seconds. Spencer scored four points around one Owl free throw to trim the hole to five, and Evora countered a pair of Weselyj freebies with a three-pointer with 33 ticks remaining, creating a 82-78 margin, but four free throws between Beathea and Weselyj and a Purple Knight miss ensued in the following 10 seconds, and the visitors never again came closer than five points.

The Purple Knights remain away from home to take on regionally-ranked Adelphi University on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Panthers are eighth in this week's D2SIDA East Region Media Poll. The reigning NE-10 Championship winner, Adelphi qualified for the past two NCAA Tournaments.