Purple Knights fall late to Stonehill, 59-58, during NE10 affair

Purple Knights fall late to Stonehill, 59-58, during NE10 affair

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team had a go-ahead shot fall off the mark in the dying seconds of a 59-58 loss to Stonehill College on Saturday in the Ross Sports Center during Northeast-10 Conference play. The Purple Knights, who play four of their next five games on the road, slipped to 3-4 overall and 3-2 in the league, as each of their last four games have been decided by eight points or less. The Skyhawks are 5-3 and 4-1, and qualified for 10 of the past 14 NCAA Tournaments.

Sophomore Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) led the hosts with a game-high 18 points, eight rebounds and four of the Purple Knights' seven blocks, while senior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) collected 13 points and two steals. Junior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) had nine points, four assists and two steals, and sophomore Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) totaled eight points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) and first-year Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) both snagged six boards. The Purple Knights held a 26-16 advantage on points in the paint while holding their opponent to 32.8 percent shooting.

During the contest, Evora hit a pair of three-pointers to push her career total to 102, passing Sue Cahill '90 (101) to take over 10th in program history. With 870 points, she also took over 24th in scoring from Lynne Liebhauser '94 (858) and now claims 14th in steals (177), moving beyond Christine Frauton '00 (176).

Junior Courtney Walsh netted 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting for Stonehill, and sophomore Maty Diabate had 15 points. Both pulled five rebounds. Classmate Nicole Rojas added nine points and five assists, while junior Kate Ross had a game-best nine rebounds, and classmate Samantha Hyslip tacked on eight boards. The Skyhawks shot 7-of-15 from three-point range.

Walsh hit a pair of threes in the opening 1:23 of the contest to stake Stonehill to a 6-4 lead, and Hyslip's bucket made it 12-7 with 6:20 left in the first quarter. Spencer's triple created a 14-12 margin, but Diabate made consecutive hoops in the final 1:08 to push the Skyhawks' edge to 20-13 by the end of the period.

Saint Michael's doubled its first-quarter point total in the second stanza, holding a 26-11 edge while beginning the period on a 22-8 run, including a capping 12-0 stretch that made it 35-28 with 2:17 to go. Spencer netted four points in that time. The Purple Knights twice pushed their advantage to eight, including with 46 seconds to go on Purcell's bank shot from the left wing. The hosts led 39-31 at halftime, as Stonehill scored only three points in the final 5:30, all on Diabate free throws. Saint Michael's shot 50.0 percent from the field, including 4-of-5 on three-pointers, while holding the Skyhawks to a 4-of-10 showing from beyond the arc.

Ferreri posted a pair of baskets during a 6-0 run that extended the Purple Knight edge to 45-33, scoring a fastbreak bucket with 4:55 left in the third quarter to conclude the stretch. Rojas had four points during a 9-0 jaunt that brought Stonehill within three with 47 ticks left in the third, but Akinpetide's jumper at 28 seconds left the hosts up 47-42 at the final horn. The Skyhawks slowly chipped away until knotting the contest at 51 with 6:06 left in the fourth and taking a 54-53 edge behind first-year Kelsey Shaw's triple with 3:23 to go.

Delaney dropped home a go-ahead basket just 16 seconds later and added a free throw to push her team into a 56-54 lead at 2:20, but Rojas nailed two freebies with 2:07 left before Walsh canned a three to snap the final tie with 58 seconds remaining. Ferreri's driving lay-up at 44.2 ticks made it a one-point affair, and she came up with a steal with 23 seconds left to give the Purple Knights the final possession, but a three from the left wing at seven seconds was off the mark, and Diabate grabbed the rebound before Stonehill ran out the clock.

The Purple Knights head to Bentley University on Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. contest. The Falcons, who advanced to the 2016 NCAA Tournament Final Four while qualifying for the national tournament for the 32nd time in 35 years, are ranked 11th in this week's Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) national poll.