TAMPA, Fla. – The Saint Leo women's basketball team (1-1) dropped its first game of the 2012-13 season as they fell to the Ave Maria Gyrenes (1-1), 69-58, on the final day of the Spartans' Challenge (Hosted by the University of Tampa) Saturday night from the Bob Martinez Athletic Center.
Despite seeing three double-digit scorers, including the team's first double-double of year by Chelsea Connelly, the Lions could not overcome a 44 percent (26-for-59) shooting day by the Gyrenes . Connelly finished with 12 points and a team-high 14 rebounds, while Chelsea Williams and Kinnara Lewis added 15 and 11 points, respectively.
After blistering the perimeter in the season-opener, it was the Lions' inside game that took control of the early portions of the contest as Williams amassed five of the team's first nine points.
Still, the defense had to fend-off a sharp shooting Ave Maria squad as the Gyrenes opened the contest with four, three-point field goals through the first eight minutes of action to hold a 20-16 advantage.
Assisted by a few Lions mid-half miscues, and continued proficient Ave Maria perimeter shooting, the Gyrenes stretched the advantage to nine-points, 31-22, with six minutes to play. The lead eventually grew to 14 points before a Connelly three-point play with under a minute to go cut the score to 11, 38-27, heading into the halftime break.
Sparking the Lions out of the break, Sarah Winans bucketed the half's first three-point basket to cut the Ave Maria lead to eight, 38-30. Slicing into the lead even more, three straight Keishara Green points pulled the Lions to within six, 43-37, with 15:25 to play in the half.
Unfortunately, Saint Leo could not stop the accurate shooting of the Gyrenes as nine straight points pushed the lead to a game-high 15 points with just under five minutes to play. With Ave Maria crashing the boards, the Gyrenes kept their double-digit running margin for the much of the remainder of the contest.
A last minute push, led by the Lions' Williams, cut the lead to eight but it wasn't enough as Ave Maria withstood the pressure to hold on for the win.
Despite outscoring Ave Maria 26-14 in the paint, the Gyrenes controlled the boards, 40-37. Additionally, after sinking nine three-pointers in the opener, the Lions hit on just 2-of-15 from behind the three-point line.
The Lions will travel back to the Marion Bowman Activities Center to open 2012-13 home action as they play host to the University of Puerto-Bayamon on Friday, November 16, on the first day of the Saint Leo Invitational. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
For more on the women's basketball program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Follow' the Lions on Twitter and 'Like' the Lions on Facebook.