February 16, 2011

Spartans' Perimeter Shooting Prevents Lions' Upset; Fall, 60-48

SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo women's basketball team (9-16, 1-13 SSC) could not keep pace with the perimeter shooting of the University of Tampa Spartans (18-5, 10-3 SSC) as they torched the nets for 11 three-point field goals in taking down the home standing Lions, 60-48, Wednesday evening from the Bowman Center in Sunshine State Conference action.

Only one Lion saw double figures as Chelsea Williams led the team with 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Chanele Patton and Lauren Lee chipped in eight and seven points, respectively, while Jamarra Robinson paced the Lions with six rebounds. Chelsea Connelly also registered a six point evening.

A fast-paced game saw the Lions outscore the Spartans, 26-14, in the paint. Unfortunately, Saint Leo could not register any points from behind the arc, as Tampa finished the evening connecting on 11-of-24 attempts from three-point distance. For the night, the Spartans concluded the conference tilt having shot 48.9 percent (22-of-45) from the floor while the Lions only managed 17 baskets.

An evenly played contest for much of the first half, the Lions found themselves in contention in large part because of a defense that forced the Spartans into 12 first half turnovers.

It was the Spartans who delivered the first basket of the game and soon opened a 16-8 lead on back-to-back three's by Gianna Messina and Taja Green.

Still, the Lions' resolve once again took charge as four different Lions' scorers connected on baskets to cut the lead to two, 18-16, with 9:47 left to play.

The Saint Leo offense grew cold, however, as they managed just six points over the final nine minutes of the half. Fortunately for the Green & Gold, pesky defense and a six minute Spartans' scoring drought kept them in the contest as they trailed only 28-22 at the half.

Out of the break is when Tampa began to heat up. Lindsay Watson and the Spartans used the first 7:38 of the second half to go on a 16-5 run and claim a 17-point, 44-27 lead.

Despite the Lions best efforts, Tampa kept a double-digit running margin for the remainder of the contest. Still, the Lions did see one final push in the final five minutes to trim the lead to single digits. Williams and Patton combined to bucket eight points in the final moments to shrink the lead to nine. However, the final flicker of hope was put later when Messina buried her third three-pointer of the game with 1:53 to play, pushing the advantage back to 12.

During the second half, Williams' asserted herself as a viable low post presence, scoring 15 of her 19 points in the second half. But it was no match for the outside shooting abilities of the Spartans.

The two teams matched each other's effort on the boards as they hauled in 29 rebounds apiece. In addition, the Lions committed two less turnovers than their rivals, forced more steals and had 15 more attempts from the free throw.

The loss extends the Lions winless streak to seven.

Saint Leo will get the weekend off before heading to St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, February 23 for an SSC showdown with the Eckerd College Tritons. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. from the McArthur Center.