DeLAND, Fla. – The Saint Leo women’s basketball team (1-0) upset Division I opponent Stetson University, 58-54, in their season-opening contest, Tuesday evening from the Edmunds Center on the campus of Stetson.
The Lions, who opened the 2009-10 season with a tough road contest, used a tremendous first half of shooting to jump out to a lead the squad never relinquished. For the night, senior Dominique Daniels led all Saint Leo players with 17 points, while pulling in seven rebounds. Sierra Williams poured in 16 points and gathered five rebounds, and senior transfer Willonda Windham collected her first double-double of the season scoring 10 points on top of grabbing 10 rebounds. Former Stetson standout, Brittany Carannante had a solid, all-around performance in her return to her former institution totaling four points, five rebounds, and dishing out six assists.
In a first half which saw the Lions shoot nearly 44% (14-for-32) from the field, SLU exploded out to a 25-6 lead after just the first 10 minutes of action. Both Daniels and Windham, the two low post presences for the Green & Gold, proved to be too much for the Hatters to handle, scoring 13 of the Lions initial 25 points.
Despite the hot start, the Hatters remained calm and did their best to chip away at the large Lions’ lead. Stetson used the next four minutes of the contest to go on a 13-4 run and cut the score to 29-19. After briefly getting the lead under double-digits, the Lions used the final 2:40 of the half to outscore Stetson 4-1 and extend the lead back to 10, 35-25, at the half time break.
Out of the intermission, Lions’ guard Sierra Williams picked up any offensive slack for the Green & Gold, scoring 12 of her 16 points in the second frame. However, the Hatters took to the court with an aggressive offensive instinct as they proceeded to cut the Lions lead in half over the first four minutes of play. A Windham basket at the 15 minute mark put a quick end to the mini Steston run and helped trigger a 7-0 Saint Leo run, extending the SLU lead back to 12, 44-32.
Saint Leo did a solid job at keeping a ten point buffer over the next 12 minutes of action until the final two minutes of the game. That is when the Hatters proceeded to go on their final big run of the evening. With 2:01 remaining in the contest, the Hatters rallied-off nine consecutive points to cut the lead to one with just five seconds to go. The Lions though kept their composure and with five seconds on the clock, clutch three free throws by Williams and Kiara Bradley iced the game and secured the Lions four-point, opening date victory.
In total, the Lions were outrebounded 52-41, but did force 22 turnovers in which they converted into 22 points. The squad also hit 13-of-21 (61.9%) free throw attempts, while the Lions’ defense did a great job holding the Hatters to just 30.6 % shooting (19-for-62) on the night.
Saint Leo will head back to the Bowman Center where they will prepare for the annual Sleep Inn Classic beginning this Friday, November 20th. The Lions first test in the four-team tournament comes from the Hurricanes of Georgia Southwestern. Tip-off for the game is set for 7:30 p.m.