BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. – Thanks to its best shooting effort from the field to date in the 2011-12 season, the Bryant University women's basketball team picked up a 55-45 win against St. Francis College on Saturday afternoon at the Pope Physical Education Center.
By virtue of their 47.7 percent clip on 21-of-44 shooting, the Bulldogs (13-9, 6-5 Northeast Conference) matched their single-season high in victories since joining the Division I ranks in 2008-09. The Terriers (3-19, 2-9 NEC) lived up to their billing as one of the top defensive teams in the conference, but could not answer a late Bryant run that sealed the deal for the visitors.
What was once a 14-point Bryant advantage quickly evaporated to six midway through the second half, but the Black and Gold responded with six straight points and held St. Francis without a field goal over a span of 6:54 to keep the Bulldogs perfect against the Terriers in the all-time series. Bryant now owns a 7-0 mark against SFNY since the 2008-09 campaign.
Junior guard Danielle Douglas (Silver Spring, Md.) was sharp once again for the Bulldogs by leading both sides with 16 points while going 6-of-12 from the field and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. Joining her in double figures was classmate Meredith Soper (Winthrop, Mass.), who added 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Sophomore Naana Ankoma-Mensa (Brampton, Ont.) tied Soper with eight boards on the day, as well.
Sarah Benedetti guided the Terriers with 13 points while Jessica Kaufman recorded a team-high seven rebounds for the home side. Benedetti finished the day 6-of-6 from the stripe, while Jaymee Veney chipped in eight points while going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field. As a team, St. Francis went 16-of-43 (.372) from the field and 3-of-12 (.250) from long range.
After going 12-of-25 (.480) from the field in the first half, the Bulldogs knocked down 9-of-19 (.474) in the second frame. Against the Terriers' tough rebounding defense – which ranked tops in the league entering the weekend – the Bulldogs were held to just 30 boards on the game, good for three more than the home team (27).
Both teams topped the 20-turnover mark, as St. Francis accumulated one more giveaway (21) than the Bulldogs (20), and both sides garnered an identical amount of steals (11), assists (12) and blocks (1).
After both teams exchanged leads three times in the first 4:39, the home team was able to push ahead to a six-point lead (19-13) with 8:47 remaining in the half, as Kim Snauwaert nailed one of the Terriers' two long balls in the first stanza.
But after a three-pointer from Soper cut St. Francis' lead to one (19-18) with 7:30 left in the half, the Bulldogs would manage to tie the game again at 21-21 with just more than three minutes to go in the frame. Bryant finished out the half on a 10-1 run over the final 2:11, with Whittington capping off the first stanza with a trey from the right corner to give the visitors a 32-24 lead at the break.
The Bulldogs returned to the court and quickly added six points to their lead in a bit more than a minute's worth of action, taking command at 38-24 with 18:55 left in the game. But the Terriers used a 10-2 run to trim a 14-point deficit to six (40-34) at the 10:57 mark of the second half.
After exchanging three points apiece, Bryant reeled off six straight points to regain a double-digit cushion, as the visitors stretched its advantage to 49-37 entering the final media break at 3:48 of the second half.
From that point on, the Terriers got to within 10 thanks to four straight free throws from Benedetti, but the home team's first field goal since the 8:08 mark came with just more than a minute to play. By that point, the Bulldogs' lead had become insurmountable, as Bryant was able to run out the clock on its final possession.
The Bulldogs continue their road trip on Monday (Feb. 6) when they travel to LIU Brooklyn for a showdown against the Blackbirds. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.