LAKELAND, Fla. – Career offensive performances by Brittany Carannante and Brianna Lollis spearheaded Saint Leo women’s basketball (6-2) to a key region basketball victory Saturday afternoon in the Florida Southern Holiday Inn South Classic over North Georgia College.

Carannante accumulated a career-best 23 points (5-for-10), surpassing her previous high of 12 set earlier this season against Montevallo. The guard also contributed a game-best six steals and five rebounds. Lollis, on the other hand, rallied to score 18 points from the bench including 5-for-9 from the three-point line. Dominique Daniels also contributed a solid performance with 12 points and six rebounds while Willonda Windham chipped in 11 points and six boards. Lauren Lee led all Lions with nine rebounds.

The Lions came out of the gate in sluggish fashion, scoring only four points and facing a 5-4 deficit. However, it was the only point the Lions trailed as they went on to outscore the Saints, 28-22, during the first half. The Lions began their offensive explosion thanks to the performance of Carannante as she scored 14 of her 23 points in the first half, propelling them from a one point deficit to a 17-14 lead with 9:09 left to play.

Perimeter shooting and outstanding play from the guards allowed Saint Leo to steadily increase their lead over their next five minutes, to 24-16.  And, despite a 5-0 North Georgia run, Saint Leo remained hot offensively extending the lead to 10 on a jumper by guard Joanna Bussa with 1:26 to play before entering the locker room up 33-26.

The second period proved to be the best half of basketball the Lions have played all season, as the combination of Carannante and Daniels quickly extended the lead back to 10 with 15:55 to play.

The running lead stayed at for 10 for the Lions over the next seven minutes, while the defense allowed the Saints to score just nine points over that period. With the game still up in the air, Lollis displayed her long-range shooting capabilities connecting on four three-pointers between the 7:25 and 4:25 mark. The three-point connections extended the Lions’ lead to 24 and shut the door on any chance of a Saints’ comeback. SLU and Lollis solidified the 81-63 win when she connected on her career-best fifth three-point basket of the contest.

Saint Leo outran the Saints, outscoring them 16-2 in fast break points while the bench outscored North Georgia, 32-19. SLU also produced 16 points off of Saints’ turnovers. 

As a team, Saint Leo shot 43.7 percent from the floor (31-for-71) and 52.6 percent from the three-point line (10-for-19). The Lions also secured a season-high in steals 16, while turning the ball over only 17 times and forcing 26 turnovers.

Saint Leo returns to the court Sunday, December 20th against the College of Saint Rose on the second day of Florida Southern Holiday Inn South Classic. Tip-off for the non-conference tilt is scheduled for noon.