COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team built a sizeable first-half lead before fending off a Southern New Hampshire University charge and pulling away for a 79-67 victory on Saturday in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights improved to 11-10 overall and 9-7 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Penmen are 10-13 and 5-11. Saint Michael's is in a three-way tie for third place in the NE10 Northeast Division with five regular-season contests remaining.
First-year Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) came off the bench to score a career-high 20 points for the hosts, shooting 8-of-11 from the field and 4-of-4 on free throws while dishing out four assists to zero turnovers. She also grabbed four rebounds. Senior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, while sophomore Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) totaled 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Classmate Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) turned in 12 points, five boards, four assists and two steals while hitting all six free throw attempts.
Junior Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) collected seven points and seven rebounds, while classmate Maddy Bennett (Montpelier, Vt./U-32) had six and four. Both shot 3-of-5. The Purple Knights held a 40-30 rebounding advantage while shooting 45.8 percent and assisting 17 of 27 baskets. They also registered 10 steals off of 18 Penmen turnovers, outscoring the visitors 27-7 in points off giveaways, and shot 23-of-28 at the charity stripe. Saint Michael's is 13-2 in its last 15 series meetings at home.
Evora increased her career point total to 979 in the contest, passing Karen Monahan '92 (974) to take over 21st in program history, and she also improved her steal figure to 207, passing Debbie Burke '87 (206) for ninth all time. Delaney's pair of rejections gave her 41 for the season, tying Amy Toland '95 for 10th in program history. Toland blocked 41 shots in both 1993-94 and 1994-95.
Sophomore Kylie Lorenzen paced Southern New Hampshire with 15 points behind 9-of-9 free throw shooting to go along with 12 rebounds and three assists. First-year Molly Terry shot 3-of-6 from three-point range for 11 points, and classmate Victoria Dean notched 10 points.
The Purple Knights used 73.3 percent shooting, going 11-of-15 from the floor, to capture a 31-18 advantage by the end of the opening quarter. After trailing 4-2 following two free throws by junior Olivia Conrad at 8:04, Saint Michael's notched seven straight points to forge ahead, with Ferreri scoring four of the points. Up just 14-12 after Terry's triple with 4:40 to go, the Purple and Gold embarked on a 21-6 run that bridged the first intermission. Purcell scored 10 of those points, at one point netting six in a row, beating the first-quarter buzzer on a long jumper before dropping home consecutive transition lay-ins off of Evora passes to begin the second quarter. Saint Michael's went ahead by as many as 18 points four times in the second quarter before carrying a 45-30 advantage into halftime.
The Penmen used an 8-2, mid-quarter spurt during the third period to draw within 49-43, on two Lorenzen freebies at 5:14, but the next eight points came from Purple Knights, with Evora netting the final six herself. However, the visitors countered with a 16-5 run that stretched into the fourth quarter, and they drew within three points on three occasions. Each time, Saint Michael's scored on the next possession, with points by Ferreri, Bennett and Purcell all reestablishing five-point edges. Purcell's two free throws with 4:44 to go built upon a 66-63 edge.
Still up only five, the Purple Knights drew an offensive foul at 3:39, and Akinpetide knocked down a long jumper 18 seconds later to continue a clinching 12-3 run that was keyed by her team's 8-of-8 free throw shooting.
The Purple Knights visit Franklin Pierce University on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.