ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Saint Leo women’s basketball team (4-0) remained undefeated as they topped the University of Montevallo, 77-65, Thursday afternoon from the McArthur Center on the first day of the Eckerd College Thanksgiving Classic.
In total, all five Lions’ starters scored in double figures. Leading the way for the Green & Gold was Willonda Windham as she scored a game and career-best 22 points, while pulling down seven rebounds. Dominique Daniels and Sierra Williams also landed in double-digits with 13 points apiece. Daniels contributed a game-high nine rebounds and Williams scored all of her points in the first 20 minutes of action. Brittany Carannante put in another solid performance with 12 points, five rebounds, and a season-best seven steals. Gekeela Clemmons was not to be outdone as she chipped in 11 points and registered five rebounds in 33 minutes of action.
Things didn’t exactly go the way the Lions were expecting the first five minutes of the game as Montevallo broke out to a 16-9 lead forcing an early timeout. However, following the 30 second break, SLU began an offensive charge of their own with 14 minutes left to play. In the 13-0 run, Clemmons started it off with layup and culminated the rally with a three-point basket. Moments later, Montevallo used a three-point field goal to tie the game at 25 apiece with 6:42 remaining in the first half. The Falcons, however, did not get any closer as SLU closed the period on an 18-7 run, eventually going into the locker room with an 11-point lead. During the stretch, the outside shooting of Williams and Carannante overwhelmed the Falcons as they were responsible for seven of the Lions’ points, while Windham controlled the post with four points. Defensively in the half, SLU allowed the Falcons just one trip to the line and forced 15 turnovers.
Saint Leo began the second half where they left off, scoring the first three points thanks to the powerful inside game of Windham. The effort helped push the lead to a game-high 14 with 17:58 to play. However, the game slowed over the next five minutes as both teams struggled to find the basket, combining for 14 points over that time span. Still, the Lions continued to keep their running lead of about 10 points for the remainder of the contest, despite Montevallo cutting the lead to six on a pair of occasions. Saint Leo iced the game in the final two minutes by converting seven consecutive free throws and coming up with pivotal defensive rebounds.
For the game, the Lions shot 49.1 % (25-for-55) from the floor, including a lights-out 63.0% (17-for-27) in the first half. The Lions also took control of the boards, out-rebounding Montevallo, 39-to-28. The Green & Gold forced 26 turnovers and hit 17-of-24 free throws (70.8%). Saint Leo also shot a blistering 54.5 % (6-for-11) from behind the three-point line.
The Lions look to continue their impressive play as they head into the second day of the Eckerd College Thanksgiving Classic against Puerto Rico-Bayamon on November 28th. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on the Campus of Eckerd College at the McArthur Center.