TAMPA, Fla. – Behind a 24-5 Spartans' first half run, the Saint Leo women's basketball team (6-6, 0-2 SSC) fell to cross-town rival the University of Tampa (7-5, 1-2 SSC), 61-30, Wednesday evening in Sunshine State Conference action from the Bob Martinez Sports Center.
In what has become known as the 'Jessee Bowl', Spartans' Head Coach Tom Jessee collected the first win of the two-game SSC series as his team used a 48 percent (22-of-46) shooting night to down Nikki Jessee's club.
Chelsea Connelly and Keishara Green paced the Lions with seven points each, and Connelly amassed over a third of the Lions rebounds with 14. Tampa, meanwhile, witnessed four double-digit scorers, including Sarah Wickham who scored a game-best 18.
The Green and Gold spent the opening moments of the game controlling the paint and the scoreboard as they jumped-out to a 7-6 lead. The advantage was only momentary, however, as the Spartans used the remaining 14 minutes to score 24 of the next 29 points to close the half up 18, 30-12.
Continuing their run in the second half, aggressive Spartans' defense and meager Lions shooting allowed Tampa to increase their lead over the course of the final 20 minutes of the contest. Wickham chipped-in seven points and forced the Lions into 10 second half turnovers as Tampa held the Lions to just 18 second half points en route to the win.
Aside from the Spartans shooting 48 percent, Tampa also hit 7 three-point baskets and 72 percent (10-14) of its free throws. The Lions, on the other hand, could only hit 11 shots, while tying Tampa in the rebound department at 36 board a piece.
The Lions will return to action on Saturday, January 7, when the team travels to Melbourne, Fla. to battle the Florida Tech Panthers in a key conference showdown. Tip-off for the game is set for 2 p.m. For the latest news, information, and updates on the women's basketball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.