March 14, 2014

Historic Season Ends as Lions Fall in Regional Quarterfinals

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After a historic record-breaking season that sent the Saint Leo women's basketball team to their first-ever NCAA South Region tournament appearance, the #6 Lions fell to the #3 Tars by a 56-48 score, Friday afternoon from the Don Taft University Center on the campus of Nova Southeastern. The loss ended the Lions' postseason run, as well as the 2013-14 season.

The Tars took an early lead in the contest, sinking two layups in the first 45 seconds of play to take a 4-0 lead. Despite the early attack, the Lions collected themselves on defense and soon found their stride, taking a 26-25 lead heading into halftime.

After the whistle sounded to begin the second half, both teams fought hard. Less than a minute into the period, Rollins tied the score at 27-27, and the Tars rallied for a momentum that would give them a lead. After two minutes of physical play, Rollins took a 34-33 lead and never surrendered. In spite of a tough Saint Leo defense and numerous offensive pushes by the Lions, the Tars battled to the very end, taking home a 56-48 win.

As a team, the Lions held Rollins to just 22-72 (30 percent) from the field, pressing hard on the perimeter to only allow two made-three pointers.

Defensively, the Saint Leo squad tallied 46 rebounds in the contest, forcing 10 Rollins turnovers and recording seven steals.

The Lions' squad sank 10 of 14 (71 percent) of their shots from behind the charity stripe, and earned 24 points from inside the paint.

Individually, sophomore point guard Chachi Guzman led the Lions in scoring with 17 points. Her career high, which came in the Lions' previous game against Tampa in the Sunshine State Conference tournament semifinals, is 35.

Two Lions earned double-digit rebounds in the effort, as senior Keishara Green led her team with 12 boards. Senior Chelsea Connelly followed her lead with ten.

The 2013-14 season marked many milestones for the Saint Leo team. In addition to appearing in their first NCAA South Region tournament, the Lions broke a school record for wins in a single season as well as conference wins in a single season. A 20-10 overall record marks the highest win percentage that the Lions women's basketball program has ever earned.

Three Saint Leo players marked statistical milestones this season, as seniors Chelsea Williams and Theresa Manigrasso both tallied their 1,000th career points. Williams and her senior teammate Chelsea Connelly also earned their 600th career rebounds this year.  

A piece of history came on December 7th, when head coach Nikki Jessee earned her 100th career win over Rollins College, her alma mater.

Though the Lions' season has come to an end, the awards will continue. Thus far, Saint Leo has seen senior Teresa Manigrasso earn a selection to the All-Sunshine State Conference First Team as well as a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-District team. In addition to her statistical milestones, senior Chelsea Williams was also selected to the All-Sunshine State Conference Second Team. Last week, sophomore Chachi Guzman was been named to the Sunshine State Conference All-Newcomer team, and days later she was tabbed to the SSC All-Tournament team.

Seniors Chelsea Connelly, Keishara Green, Erin Higgins, Teresa Manigrasso, and Chelsea Williams will all graduate in May with their bachelor's degrees.

For more on the Saint Leo women's basketball program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and 'Follow' Saint Leo Athletics on Twitter and Instagram.