TAMPA, Fla. – The Saint Leo University women’s basketball team (7-7, 0-5 SSC) fell to the University of Tampa Spartans (11-3, 2-2 SSC) 63-54, Wednesday evening at the Bob Martinez Sports Center in Sunshine State Conference action.

In a half that featured six ties and 10 lead changes, the Spartans gained the upper hand on the Lions going into the halftime break, as a lay-up with under one minute to play gave the Spartans a one point advantage. The Spartan increased their lead to 11 in the second half, but the Lions never quit, rallying to cut the lead to four with three minutes left to play. The rally was not enough though, as the Spartans closed the door on the Lions from the line. 

Tampa jumped up early on the Lions scoring the initial six points of the game. Soon after, the Lions’ offense awoke rattling off eight of the next ten points. Marquita Fenn was the catalyst of the run scoring the Lions’ initial basket with a jumper in the paint. After a lay up by forward Dominique Daniels, the shooting duo of Nichole Tyler and Whitley Washington connected on back-to-back three’s to give the Lions their first advantage of the game.

The two teams proceeded to exchange baskets the remainder of the period with neither Tampa nor Saint Leo gaining more than a three point advantage throughout. But, with the Lions down two, 26-24, and 2:14 remaining, Washington came up clutch again hitting her second three point basket and giving the Lions the lead. The Spartans answered back on the next Lions possession, stealing a pass and driving in for a lay up with under a minute to play.

The Spartans did not sit on their one point lead as they came out of the locker room with all cylinders firing, immediately hitting a three point basket to put the Lions in a four point hole. Fenn did her best to keep the Lions on pace with the Spartans, scoring the first three SLU points to cut the lead in half.

The Spartans’ offense continued to push extending their lead to eight with 15 minutes to go. Moments later, Natalie Geadreau kept SLU’s chances alive connecting on a three point basket cutting the lead to five.

Despite the Lions best efforts, Tampa slowly increased their lead to 11, their largest of the game with about ten minutes left to play.

Still, the pesky Lions’ team did not go away quietly, cutting the Spartan deficit to four with three minutes to play. However, the rally was short-lived as an untimely turnover and superb Tampa free-throw shooting in the final three minutes (5-for-5) wrapped up the game for the Spartans.

Fenn led the way once again for the Lions scoring 17, while Daniels chipped in ten and tied Tyler for the team lead in rebounds. Sabrina Schmitt also had a nice game for the Lions eight points in ten minutes worth of work.

The Lions shot 37 percent from the floor (22-for-59) and 31 percent from behind the three point line (5-for-16), but only managed ten free throw attempts on the night converting only five.

The Lions continue SSC action this Saturday, January 17 at the Marion Bowman Activities Center as they take on the Lynn University Fighting Knights. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 pm.