KISSIMMEE, Fla.—For the first time in program history, the Saint Leo women's basketball team has advanced to the Sunshine State Championship after the Lions beat Tampa 76-60 in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon from Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla.
Saint Leo (14-14) clicked on all cylinders from start to finish and was in control of the game nearly from the opening tip. The Lions were led by Chelsea Connelly who scored a season-high 20 points and brought down a career-high 18 rebounds. Teresa Manigrasso poured in 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. Also scoring in double figures was Chelsea Williams who scored 18 points—12 of which came in the second half.
The Lions took a 14-12 lead with 13:17 to go in the first half and never let it go. Connelly went 6-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 behind the arc in the first half to allow the Lions to head into the break with a seven point lead.
From the opening minute of the second half the Lions controlled every aspect of the game and slowly expanded their lead to as much as 21 points. Connelly became a rebounding machine in the second half—grabbing 12 rebounds. Williams stepped up her play in the post contributed 12 points in the second half while going 6-of-9 from the field in the game.
The Lions did a solid job forcing turnovers but did an ever better job limiting their own. Saint Leo committed just four turnovers on the day—their lowest total of the entire 2012-13 season. Off of those Tampa turnovers, Saint Leo scored 15 points compared to the two scored off of Saint Leo turnovers. The Lions post players did a tremendous job controlling the paint as they outscored Tampa in the key 32-22.
The Lions played just eight players but still got more contribution for their bench than Tampa, outscoring them 20-9 in bench points.
The team gets right back in action tomorrow in the Sunshine State Conference Championship against Rollins. Tipoff for the game is set for 1:00 p.m. The game will be broadcasted live on sunshinestateconference.com and can be viewed on our tournament central page, here.