SAINT LEO, Fla. – Despite controlling the scoreboard for 34 minutes, the Saint Leo University women's basketball team (6-4, 0-1) dropped its Sunshine State Conference home opener in heartbreaking fashion, 56-54, to the Lynn University Fighting Knights (7-4, 2-0 SSC), Saturday afternoon from the Marion Bowman Activities Center.
Overall, the Lions led in nearly every statistic, but with five minutes to play in regulation the Fighting Knights shrank a five-point Lions' lead and took the lead for good on a Marquis Lee jumper with 58 seconds to play. The loss negated the second consecutive double-double from Chelsea Connelly (13 pts., 13 rebs.) and quieted Chelsea Williams' 18-point effort.
Defense was the name of the game for the Lions in the first half as they held the opposing Fighting Knights to just 24 points. Chelsea Williams did the majority of the damage on the offensive side as she led the team with 12 of the team's 29 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
A back and forth struggle for much of the opening 20 minutes, Williams and a solid inside performance, put the Lions up by 10, 27-17, behind the efforts of an 8-0 run. The Lions eventually went into the halftime break up five, 29-24.
The second half was a classic see-saw battle. Saint Leo opened the half by pushing the lead to nine behind a Keishara Green layup with 13:54 to play. Lynn responded with a 9-3 run to tie the game at 42 apiece with 9:37 to play. Stout defense on both sides kept the score low, but the Lions managed, thanks to a Connelly three-point basket, to go up five, 52-47, with 5:16 to play.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the offense went cold over the final five minutes as they converted just one more basket. That, combined with untimely turnovers, saw Lynn shrink the Lions' advantage once again. This time the Lions could not respond as Lee punched home the game-winning jumper with 58 seconds to play.
In total, the Lions led in the rebounding department, 42-29, and shot nearly 41 percent (17-for-42) from the floor. The Lions controlled the paint as well, outscoring the Fighting Knights, 24-12.
The Lions will return to the court on Wednesday, January 4, when travel to Tampa, Fla. to take on the University of Tampa in an SSC showdown. Tip-off for the in-region contest is set for 5:30 p.m. from the Bob Martinez Sports Center on the campus of the University of Tampa. For the latest news, information, and updates on the women's basketball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.