ORLANDO, Fla. – In their final exhibition contest of the season, the Saint Leo women’s basketball dropped a 67-60 decision to division I opponent, the University of Central Florida Golden Knights, Sunday evening from UCF Arena.
Willonda Windham imposed her size on the UCF defense for the majority of the night as the center totaled 17 points and was a one rebound shy of a double-double. Geekela Clemmons and Sierra Williams also had great evenings for the Green & Gold. Both were able to collect 10 points apiece, but Clemmons was dominant on the boards as well, tying Dominique Daniels with 10 rebounds. Daniels also fell one point shy of a double-double as she concluded her evening with nine points. Also, Brittany Carannante demonstrated her ability to be a complete player scoring nine points, snagging seven rebounds, and dishing out five assists.
The two teams played a very competitive first half, which saw the Lions not back down from the division I challenger. In fact, it was Saint Leo who completed the first basket of the game at the 18:01 mark. Soon after, UCF began a charge that took them out to an 11-6 lead with 13:24 to play. However, the Lions withstood the initial run and began to claw their way back into the game. The inside plays of Windham and the outside shooting of Williams and Lauren Lee, eventually cut the lead down to 18-16.
With less than five minutes to go in the first half, Saint Leo became victim to the first big run of the game by UCF. The Golden Knights rattled-off nine of the next 11 points to take a 27-18 lead. But SLU did a good job buckling down on the defensive end, holding UCF to just four points over the next three minutes of the half. At the same time, Saint Leo went on an 8-4 run, as well, to close out the first period. Carranante and Lee connected on four straight free throws to help make to the score 31-26 going into the break.
Out of halftime, the squads exchanged baskets for the first three minutes of action. Back-to-back field goals though by the Golden Knights shot the lead out to ten, 40-30, with 16:18 to play. The lead for UCF hovered around that mark for the next six minutes until four consecutive points by Williams saw the lead dwindle back to six points, 46-40. The rejuvenated Lions’ group continued their attack on the UCF lead with a strong inside presence and precision free-throw shooting. Finally, a pair of free throws by Daniels at the 8:15 mark tied the game at 48. Seconds later, Carannante answered a UCF three with one of her own to tie the game again with 7:13 to play. However, the outside shooting by the Golden Knights began to hit their mark and with 4:51 remaining on the clock UCF had pushed the lead back out to eight. With the second SLU run not in the works, the lead remained the nearly the same for the remainder of the game as the Lions dropped their second exhibition contest of the season.
Despite the loss, the Lions nearly matched their opponent in every category. The squad shot 33.3 percent (19-for-57) from the floor and 77.8 percent (21-for-27) from the free throw line. The team out-rebounded the Golden Knights 46-40, and out-blocked them, 6-3.
Saint Leo will get their regular season underway next Tuesday, November 17th when they travel to Division I opponent Stetson University. Tip-off for the non-conference clash is set for 7:00 p.m.