The St. Lawrence University women's basketball team picked up a key conference win on Friday night, as the Saints defeated William Smith by the score of 56-48 in the Burkman Gymnasium. Though William Smith is the top offensive team in the Liberty League shooting 43%, the Saints held them to 16-of-57 from the floor (28%), with Allison Cady and Kara McDuffee anchoring the defensive outing.
St. Lawrence (10-6, 6-1) remains tied for the lead in the Liberty League standings, while the Herons fall to 14-4 (7-2). Senior Kelly Legg paced the Saints offensively with a double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds), while William Smith was led by Erin O'Brien's game-high 20 points.
"That was a great battle between two good teams! I am so proud of the effort we put in on the defensive end," said St. Lawrence head coach Dan Roiger. "William Smith is good and has a bunch of great offensive players, and are really athletic. Our team did a great job of transition defense and did an outstanding job of taking away strengths of their players."
Cady and McDuffee were matched up against the Herons' leading offensive threats, Sasha Borenstein and Chloe Hayter, who combine for an average of nearly 32 points per game. However, the Saints held the duo to a 1-for-12 mark from the floor and three points, with Hayter, the team's leading scorer, fouling out late in the second half.
Neither team was able to gain much separation early in the first half with St. Lawrence holding the largest lead of four at 17-13 with 7:57 remaining in the period. Though William Smith cut into the deficit, a three pointer by Cassie St. Hilaire followed by a charging call as Cady held her ground under the basket forced a William Smith timeout trailing 22-16 with 4:09 left until the intermission.
St. Lawrence saw its lead swell to nine after a three by rookie Caroline Dalton, but O'Brien answered with a three of her own to send the game to halftime with the home team up 29-23.
The Saints opened up their largest lead of the game at 35-25 only 3:49 into the second half when Cady knocked down a three pointer. However, William Smith would respond, as O'Brien continued to have the hot hand and Lauren Brustein and Melanie Patterson scored back-to-back lay-ups to get the visitors within two at 40-38. The Herons completed the comeback and took the lead at 43-42 with 7:48 remaining on a pair of O'Brien free throws.
Coach Roiger's team would answer the call on both ends of the floor when they needed to, rattling off a 10-0 run to take a 52-43 lead with 1:26 remaining. The defense challenged every Heron shot, while Olivia Mathieu, Legg and McDuffee each had baskets before a dagger three pointer from Dalton capped the run.
The Herons' best chance to get back into the game came on a three point try from O'Brien that could've cut the lead to three, but it hit the back of the rim as St. Lawrence closed strong for the 56-48 victory.
The Saints, who have won seven of their last eight games, will look to earn a weekend sweep tomorrow, Saturday, February 1 when they host RIT at 2:00pm.