WINTER PARK, Fla. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team wrapped up a two-game trip to Florida with a 66-59 loss to regionally-ranked Florida Institute of Technology on Saturday during the Rollins (Fla.) College Tip-Off Classic at the Alfond Sports Center. The Purple Knights are 0-2, while the Panthers improved to 2-0. Florida Tech is not only sixth in the latest D2SIDA South Region Media Poll but also qualified for the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Junior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) was the lone Purple and Gold player in double figures, netting a game-high 19 to go along with six rebounds. Senior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) added nine points, and first-year Cassandra Falone (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) had eight in 10 reserve minutes. She and Evora both buried a pair of three-pointers.
Junior Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) hauled down six rebounds with two assists while sophomore Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) had two steals for a Saint Michael's squad that committed only nine turnovers while forcing 15.
Senior Julie McCarthy totaled 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting with 10 rebounds, six offensive boards and three blocks for Florida Tech, while junior Delise Williams had 12 points and nine rebounds. The Panthers held a 53-36 rebounding advantage.
Spencer's jumper 20 seconds into the game was met by a 6-0 Florida Tech run, as three different players scored, and the Purple Knights wiped out four four-point deficits before knotting the game at 12, as sophomore Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) and Spencer provided back-to-back buckets. Redshirt senior Shequana Harris provided the tie-breaking hoop with 29 seconds left in the first quarter, and the Panthers twice pushed their lead to as many as five points in the second following Falone three-pointers that trimmed the hole to one.
After Florida Tech led 35-30 with 42 seconds left, Falone made a pair of free throws one second later, and first-year Taylor Miller (Falmouth, Mass./Falmouth) knocked down a freebie with one second to go, bringing the Purple Knights within 35-33 at halftime. Delaney's bucket 32 seconds into the third period knotted the game, but the Panthers scored the next nine points, with sophomore Gracie Doane providing the final five. Florida Tech held a 55-45 edge at 25 seconds and continued to lead by double figures with fewer than four minutes remaining in regulation.
Evora buried a triple with 3:22 to go, and Akinpetide snagged a rebound before being fouled, and her two free throws cut the margin to 61-56 at 2:58. Williams put home a lay-up on the next possession, but Spencer grabbed a defensive board and nailed a jumper with 1:51 left to make it 63-58. However, a Purple Knight turnover and miss ensued, and sophomore Michaela Gelbaugh shot 3-on-4 on free throws in the final 54 seconds for the Panthers.
Saint Michael's opens its home and Northeast-10 Conference slates on Wednesday by taking on Franklin Pierce University at 5:30 p.m.