Women's basketball clamps down on defense for 57-47 victory at Pace

Women's basketball clamps down on defense for 57-47 victory at Pace

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team had its best defensive performance in a Northeast-10 Conference contest in four years while posting a 57-47 victory over Pace University on Tuesday in the Goldstein Fitness Center. The Purple Knights, who won for the fifth time in seven games, are 8-7 overall and 6-4 in the league, while the Setters slipped to 8-9 and 2-7.

Junior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) turned in 13 points for Saint Michael's, going over 600 career points in her 50th game, while shooting 3-of-5 from three-point range, snagging five rebounds and handing out three assists. Classmate Maddy Bennett (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) rattled off 10 points off the bench on 5-of-9 shooting, and sophomore Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) added nine points, career highs of 15 rebounds and six offensive boards, and a career-high-tying four blocks.

Senior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) contributed nine points on 4-of-4 free throw shooting, eight boards, four steals and two assists, while first-year reserve Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) had eight points and two assists while shooting 4-of-6. Junior Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) handed out three assists, and sophomore Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) rejected two shots.

The Purple Knights yielded their lowest point total since Dec. 9, 2014, when they allowed 44 to Post University, and the fewest points to an NE10 foe since limiting Saint Anselm College to 43 on Feb. 23, 2013, in a road contest. Saint Michael's forced 15 turnovers, blocked seven shots and held a 40-34 rebounding advantage while winning for the third time in four visits to Pace following four straight losses.

During the contest, Evora pushed her career point total to 945 while becoming the first player in school history to sit among the program's top 10 in each three-pointers, free throws and steals. She passed Pam Batalis '85 (244) to take over eighth in free throws (245), is alone in ninth with 114 threes, and passed Kim Corey '84 (190) en route to occupying 10th in steals (193).

Senior Kirsten Dodge led Pace with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while graduate student Jaclyn Oskam and sophomore Alexandra Monteleone added 10 points apiece. Junior Geena Rosalbo added seven assists and three steals.

Saint Michael's scored the opening seven points by 5:38 of the first quarter, with Spencer netting the final five and the Setters missing their first eight shots. The next nine points came from Pace, as Dodge scored six on three baskets in a matter of 1:11, but Spencer later totaled four points in a 7-0 Purple Knight stretch that made it 16-10 with 11 seconds remaining in the opening frame. Pace trimmed the deficit to two 12 seconds into the second quarter, but Spencer dished to Bennett and Evora on back-to-back baskets, and the visitors still led 26-20 on Delaney's lay-in with 3:10 to go. However, Monteleone recorded the final seven points of the half, including burying a go-ahead three-pointer with 16 ticks remaining for her team's lone made trey on 13 first-half attempts. Pace led 27-26 at halftime.

The teams traded the lead three times in the opening 1:10 of the third period - all on three-pointers - with Evora's triple at 8:50 kicking off a 13-4 run that put her team on top. Four different Purple Knights scored in that time, and Delaney's freebie kept it an eight-point margin at 43-35 with 42 seconds to go. Oskam scored eight of her points in a game-tying 10-2 run that bridged the quarter gap, knotting the contest on a lay-up at 7:45 of the fourth quarter.

That proved to be the hosts' final field goal, as Saint Michael's held the Setters to 0-of-5 shooting with seven turnovers from there. Delaney hit two free throws at 7:19 to begin a game-ending 12-2 run, and Bennett had two critical baskets in a 36-second span during a personal 6-2 stretch, capped by hitting a jumper from the left wing at the end of the shot clock with 1:04 to go to make it a six-point game. Around two Setter turnovers, Evora hit four free throws between 40.0 and 32.1 seconds to ice the victory.

The Purple Knights break until next Wednesday, when they visit Le Moyne College for a 3:30 p.m. game.