Women's basketball falls to visiting Merrimack, 43-38

Women's basketball falls to visiting Merrimack, 43-38

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's basketball team held its 11th opponent this season to 60 points or fewer but fell to Merrimack College, 43-38, on Wednesday in the Ross Sports Center. Both teams are 10-10 overall and 8-7 in the Northeast-10 Conference, matching Stonehill College in a three-way tie for fourth place in the NE10 Northeast Division.

Junior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) had a game-high 13 points for the hosts while adding five rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) totaled eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks, while senior Indira Evora (Somerville, Mass./Somerville) had six points, three blocks and three steals. Junior Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) also rejected three shots, and first-year Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) dished off three assists.

Saint Michael's picked up 12 steals off of 23 Merrimack turnovers and blocked 13 shots, two short of the 34-year-old school record, registering its most ever during an NE10 contest. The Purple Knights had last allowed so few points on Feb. 23, 2013, when they yielded 43 to Saint Anselm College. Evora moved into a tie for eighth in school history with Karen Monahan '92 in career three-pointers (117) while passing Debbie Burke '87 (960) to take over 22nd in scoring (965).

Senior My'Asia Alston came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 12 points, and sophomore Hannah Neild buried three treys to finish with 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals. First-year Denia Davis-Stewart had eight rebounds and five blocks. Merrimack utilized a 7-of-13 performance from three-point range.

Akinpetide's corner jumper knotted the contest at 2-2 with 2:01 gone in the contest before Alston came off the bench to score seven straight points for Merrimack. The Purple Knights twice cut their deficit to five, including on Evora's triple with 3:14 left in the first quarter, producing a 12-7 margin. Three different Warriors scored in extending the visitors' lead to 20-7 by 9:12 of the second stanza, but junior Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) broke a 5:57 scoring drought with a steal and breakaway hoop at 7:17.

However, that proved to be her team's lone bucket in a 10:34 span, with Neild's three at 3:52 and Akinpetide's long jumper with 2:40 counting as the only ensuing hoops prior to halftime. Merrimack led 23-11 at the break, by which point the hosts had eight blocks and seven steals.

Saint Michael's scored the first four points of the second half and drew within eight points three times in the first 5:23 of the third quarter, eventually making it 35-28 when Spencer buried a three to cap a quick 5-0 spurt at 1:48. The hosts continued to trim their deficit, with Spencer and Delaney putting home back-to-back buckets to create a 39-36 margin with 4:10 to go in regulation. However, Davis-Stewart's putback 17 seconds later pushed the Warriors' lead back to five, and Neild's two free throws at 22 seconds iced the victory.

The Purple Knights host Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.