WORCESTER, Mass. - Down 13 at halftime, the Saint Michael's College women's basketball team forced overtime on senior Indira Evora's (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) three-pointer with 22 seconds left in regulation before downing Assumption College, 81-78, on Saturday at Laska Gymnasium. The Purple Knights, now 2-2 overall, are off to their first 2-0 Northeast-10 Conference start since 2007-08. The Greyhounds are 1-2 and 0-2. Saint Michael's had last won at Laska Gymnasium in 2012, while today's victory was its second in 16 visits since 1998.
Junior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) netted a season-high 23 points in 43 minutes for the Purple Knights, scoring a game-high 14 points after halftime. She pulled five rebounds with three assists while shooting 6-of-7 on free throws. Sophomore Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) totaled 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting with six rebounds, as the visitors held a 43-36 advantage on the glass, including 17-7 at the offensive end, leading to an identical 17-7 showing in second-chance points.
Sophomore Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) turned in 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting and a 4-of-5 free throw effort with two assists, and first-year Taylor Miller (Falmouth, Mass./Falmouth) collected season highs of eight points and eight rebounds off the bench. Classmate Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) posted seven points, eight boards and two steals in a reserve capacity, and Evora collected seven points and three steals. Evora moved into a tie with Christine Gaffney '96 for 12th in program history with 96 career three-pointers while matching Brigid Hegarty '06 for 15th with 175 steals.
Senior Jo Impellizeri notched 23 points and eight rebounds for Assumption, shooting 7-of-12 from the floor and 9-for-12 on free throws, while classmate Allison Stoddard had 17 points, five assists and four steals.
With her team down four with fewer than two minutes remaining in regulation, Miller knocked down a free throw at 1:34 before scoring on a putback with 47 seconds left to make it 67-66. Impellizeri put home a bucket of her own 10 seconds later, but Evora drained a three from the top of the arc at 22 seconds, and an off-balance try by Assumption at the buzzer was off the mark.
Ferreri scored the first four points of overtime, and the hosts never again drew even. The Greyhounds chipped their deficit to one point twice, including when Stoddard knocked down a jumper at 2:13 to produce a 76-75 margin, but Delaney put home a bucket toward the end of the shot clock on the next possession, and Miller grabbed a defensive board of a quick Greyhound miss before Spencer nailed a jumper at 1:09, making it 80-75.
Stoddard's three cut the hole to two with 59 seconds left and, after gaining possession following a Saint Michael's miss, Assumption lost the ball on an Evora steal with 15 seconds to go. Her free throw pushed the lead to three, and the hosts never attempted a game-tying shot in the closing seconds.
After scoring 22 points in 20 minutes of first-half play, the Purple Knights netted 47 in the following 20 minutes thanks to 62.1 percent shooting. Saint Michael's opened the second half on an 18-6 run, as Spencer scored seven points, bringing her team within 41-40 with 4:32 to go in the third period. A 9-3 stretch later in the frame put the Purple and Gold on top, at 49-48 on Spencer's triple with 18 ticks left, but Stoddard canned a three at the buzzer. The lead changed hands six more times in the fourth quarter, with Assumption gaining the largest lead for either team, 67-63, on Stoddard's two freebies at 1:49.
Impellizeri notched four points in helping Assumption forge a 10-3 lead by the time 4:23 had elapsed in the first quarter. With the visitors still down seven with fewer than five minutes to go, Miller dropped home a putback, Purcell snagged a defensive board and scored on a lay-up at the other end, and Delaney knocked down a jumper to cap a 6-0 run that took 2:17 to elapse, and Saint Michael's trailed 12-11 at 2:23.
In what became a 10-2 run, Evora's lay-in gave the Purple and Gold its first lead, 15-14, 34 seconds into the second quarter, but the Greyhounds scored the next 11 points in a matter of 2:09, with Impellizeri scoring six. Her lay-up with eight ticks remaining in the opening half gave Assumption a 35-22 lead by halftime.
The Purple Knights return home to face Saint Anselm College on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The Hawks, who qualified for last year's NCAA Tournament, are 25th in the latest D2SIDA National Media Poll.