FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Saint Leo women’s basketball team (5-1, 1-0 SSC) used an 18-3 second half run to defeat the Nova Southeastern University Sharks (4-3, 0-1), 69-66, to claim their first Sunshine State Conference victory of the season, Saturday afternoon from the University Center.
Leading the way for the Lions in the overtime thriller was Gekeela Clemmons , as she went 8-for-12 from the field to lead the team with 17 points. Dominique Daniels also had a tremendous afternoon for the Lions as she was responsible for 15 points and tying with teammate Lauren Lee for a team-high in rebounds with six. Willonda Windham scored 12 points and secured five rebounds, while guard Sierra Williams chipped in 10 points. Along with her six rebounds, Lee scored nine points and teammate Brittany Carannante led the squad with eight assists.
In the first half, the Lions immediately hit a stiff challenge in the Sharks as they quickly jumped out to 9-5 lead. However, after a period of trading baskets and turnovers, the Sharks extended their lead to largest total of the half, seven with 7:48 to play. The Lions refused to quit though as the duo of Daniels and Williams cut the lead back to four with fewer than five minutes to play. Despite the Lions persistence on the offensive end, 14 first half turnovers allowed NSU to extend their lead to five, 26-21, as they entered to the halftime break.
Action really began to heat up in the second half, as both offenses began to ignite. At the beginning of the second half, Nova Southeastern used outstanding perimeter shooting to propel the Sharks to a 14-point lead with 16:42 to go.
The 37-23 lead did not faze the Green & Gold though as SLU went on a 18-3 run, led by the inside dominance of Windham and Daniels, as well as the outside shooting of Carannante to push SLU to their first lead, 41-40, with 9:43 to play.
From there both teams held back no punches as they matched each other point-for-point over the final 10 minutes of the contest with neither team gaining more than a three point advantage.
Unfortunately for the Lions, NSU possessed their three point lead with just over one minute to play. But all was not lost for Head Coach Chanita Olds and the Lions brass. Windham cut the lead down to one, 57-56, with nine seconds to play. After NSU could only hit one of their two free throws, Carannante pressed down the court, got around the defense and connected on a lay-up with no time on the clock to tie the game at 58 apiece and force the SSC tilt into overtime.
In OT, the Lions drew first blood gaining a 60-58 lead. However, NSU tied the contest on three separate occasions over the period until SLU gained a four-point advantage with 1:21 to play. Soon after, Nova connected on a layup that cut the SLU lead in half, 68-66. But clutch free throw shooting by Daniels extended the Lions’ lead to three with 15 seconds to go, a lead NSU could not rebound from as the Lions claimed a come-from-behind SSC victory.
As a team, SLU shot 55.6% (30-for-50) from the field and out-blocked the Sharks, 5-to-2. The Lions also had two less turnovers and converted 42 points in the paint.
Next up for the Lions is a road contest with Georgia Southwestern on Sunday, December 13th from Americus, Ga. Tip-off for the non-conference game is set for 2:00 p.m.