NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team suffered its eighth loss by 10 points or less on Wednesday, dropping a 73-67 decision at Merrimack College on Hammel Court. The Purple Knights are 7-13 overall and 3-12 in Northeast-10 Conference play, while the Warriors improved to 9-12 and 5-10.
Senior Makenzie Burud (Red Hook, N.Y./Coleman Catholic) scored a game-high 21 points for the visitors, including 17 in the second half, shooting 8-of-13 overall and 5-of-7 on free throws while adding five rebounds and three assists. She moved into a tie with Jevy Rayner '07 for eighth in program history in career free throws (241) while breaking a tie with Rayner to take over 10th by herself in rebounds (690).
Junior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) totaled 12 of her 13 points in the second half, shooting 4-of-4 on three-pointers in the stanza, while dishing four assists, and sophomore Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) collected 12 points off the bench. First-year Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) had nine points, six boards and two blocks, and senior Megan Gaudreau (Brooklyn, Conn./Pomfret School) contributed eight points and five helpers. Sophomores Maddy Bennett (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) and Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) added six and five rebounds, respectively.
The Purple Knights shot 45.8 percent, including 6-of-15 (40.0%) from beyond the arc, while assisting 17 of their 27 baskets.
Senior reserve Amanda Hoover paced Merrimack with 15 points, while classmate Tia Scott had 13 points and seven assists. Senior Caitlyn Garger and junior Savannah Johnson both totaled 10 points, with Johnson a rebound shy of a double-double, while classmate My'Asia Alston handed out seven assists off the bench.
In a game that featured 10 ties and eight lead changes, Merrimack was ahead 14-8 before the Purple Knights forced the first tie by scoring the last six points of the opening quarter. Spencer nailed back-to-back jumpers just past the time three minutes remained before dishing to Gaudreau for a jumper with 1:30 left for the final scoring of the stanza. Neither team led by more than two points in the second period, as Saint Michael's took its first lead on Spencer's jumper with 4:37 left, making it 22-20, and Spencer's bucket with 17 seconds remaining had the visitors ahead 27-26. However, first-year Hannah Neild buried a three just before the buzzer to put the Warriors back in front heading into the locker room.
The teams played through three ties and a lead change in the opening 3:55 of the third quarter, with Burud's lay-in 1:55 in giving Saint Michael's a 30-29 edge. After Hoover's basket brought the Warriors within 38-37, the Purple Knights slowly built their lead to double figures, with Evora knocking down a trio of threes in an early 1:07 stretch of a 15-5 run. Burud capped that with six straight points, and the visitors led 53-42 with 1:00 to go.
Before the end of the frame, Merrimack kicked off a game-changing 25-8 run. A Hoover basket in the opening minute of the fourth made it a 53-47 game before Evora responded with a triple 16 seconds later, but the next nine points came from Warriors, and Johnson's basket at 6:49 knotted the score. Just eight seconds later, Gaudreau knocked down a trey right out of a timeout, and Bennett's jumper with 5:13 left kept Saint Michael's ahead by three, but Scott had seven points in a 9-0 run, and the hosts led 67-61 with 1:01 to go. Burud made three lay-ups around three Merrimack free throws in the final minute, drawing the visitors within 70-67 with 14 ticks remaining, but two Garger freebies were met by a missed Purple and Gold three-pointer with five seconds left.
The Purple Knights play on national television for the third time in two years when they visit Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The contest will air live on NESNplus and NESN National.