COLCHESTER, Vt. - The surging Saint Michael's College women's basketball team won for the seventh time in nine outings by dispatching a streaking The College of Saint Rose squad, 73-51, on Saturday in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights moved to 10-7 overall and 8-4 in the Northeast-10 Conference, maintaining a tie for second place in the Northeast Division, while the Golden Knights, who entered the day winners in eight of their last nine contests, slid to 11-7 and 6-6.
Junior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) netted a career-high 30 points in 32 minutes, shooting 13-of-16 while snagging four rebounds. Sophomore Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) notched 12 points, four boards, two assists and two blocks, while classmate Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) had 11 points, seven rebounds - five offensive - and a career-high seven steals.
Junior Maddy Bennett (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) had a well-balanced five points, seven rebounds and four assists with no turnovers in 20 minutes off the bench, and classmate Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) turned in five points, five rebounds and four helpers. Senior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) totaled five assists and two steals, first-year Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) contributed three steals, and classmate Cassandra Falone (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) buried a pair of three-pointers.
Each team had 34 rebounds and shot comparably from the field, but the Purple Knights forced 28 turnovers while committing just 13, notching 14 steals to go along with three rejections. It was the most giveaways they tallied since Dec. 9, 2014, against Post University (28), and the most in a league game since Jan. 15, 2013, versus Southern Connecticut State University (28). That contest came 11 days prior to the last time Saint Michael's had defeated Saint Rose, as the Purple and Gold had dropped eight of the past nine in the series. The Purple Knights yielded 51 points or less for the third straight game for the first time since a three-game run between Feb. 10 and Feb. 16, 2011.
Spencer's 30 points were within six of Kathy O'Neil's '81 36-year-old school record, set on Dec. 6, 1980. She was the first Purple Knight to go for 30 since Makenzie Burud '16 (30) on Nov. 30, 2014, against Caldwell University, and the first in NE10 play since Maggie Sabine '15 (31) versus Pace University on Jan. 25, 2014. During the contest, Evora increased her career point total to 957, passing Michelle Otey '10 (956) for 23rd in program history.
Senior Staci Barrett was the lone Golden Knight in double figures, finishing with 10 points to go along with six rebounds. Sophomore Karissa Birthwright added eight points, six boards and three blocks, and first-year Cameron Graupman had eight points and three steals.
Saint Rose received baskets from Birthwright and senior Taylor Nazon in the opening 2:17 to lead 4-0 before Spencer had four points in a 5-0 response, but the Golden Knights reestablished their four-point edge at 13-9 on sophomore Zoe McDonald's lay-in with 2:38 to go in the opening stanza. Before the end of the period, the Purple Knights scored 10 straight points to push in front for good. Delaney and Spencer each had four points, while Bennett and Evora both dished two assists. Saint Rose twice trimmed its deficit to six in the opening stages of the second quarter, but a 6-0 Saint Michael's spurt, capped by four straight points by Spencer, extended the lead to 34-22 at 3:21.
The Purple Knights carried a 38-27 advantage into the locker room on the strength of 50.0 percent shooting, as Spencer netted 17 points in the first half alone. Her team committed only six turnovers while forcing 13.
On the strength of a 19-10 scoring margin in the third quarter, Saint Michael's led by 20 heading into the final frame. Up just 44-35 after a Birthwright lay-in at 6:22, the Purple Knights rattled off a 15-2 run that carried into the final period, as five players shared the scoring. Ferreri and Spencer each had four points, with Spencer dishing off once. Saint Michael's saw its lead remain between 16 and 22 points for the remainder of the contest.
The Purple Knights hit the road for their next two games, visiting the University of New Haven on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.