SVC comeback attempt falls short in loss to Juniata, 79-76

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LATROBE, Pa. (Nov. 25) - The Saint Vincent women's basketball team nearly overcame a double-digit halftime deficit before falling 79-76 to undefeated Juniata College in non-conference action at the Carey Center. 

Junior guard Maria Morgan led the Bearcats with a team-high 19 points, including four made three-point attempts. Sophomore forward Paige Montrose just missed a double-double, posting 16 points and 9 rebounds. Senior forward Babette Sanmartin also reached double figures with 13 points. Graduate student Mara Benvenuti chipped in nine points and six rebounds in the loss.

After scoring 98 points in Tuesday's win at Chatham, the Bearcats started strong offensively against Juniata, building an early 13-7 lead after a jumper from Slovenec with 5:31 showing on the first quarter clock. Saint Vincent held a slight 16-15 advantage after a well played first quarter by both teams. 

The visiting Eagles used a big second quarter offensively to take a 43-30 lead into halftime. Juniata doubled up SVC by a 28-14 margin in the second quarter to gain the double-digit lead at the break. 

Saint Vincent would not go quietly in the second half, closing the deficit to 45-38 after an 8-2 run to open the quarter. Morgan was the catalyst with back-to-back three-pointers. A little later, Morgan buried another three to close the gap to four (49-45) at the 6:16 mark. Saint Vincent would pull within one (53-52) after back-to-back baskets from Sanmartin. The Eagles used a 10-5 run to take a 63-57 lead into the fourth quarter. 

Down 77-72 with 1:32 to play, back-to-back layups from Montrose brought SVC within two points, at 78-76 with 21 seconds to play. Juniata would convert just one of four free throws down the stretch to leave the door open. However, the Bearcats missed two chances at a game tying three-pointer in the final 10 seconds, securing the win for the road team. 

Freshman guard Carlee Kilgus, along with Slovenec and Morgan each recorded a team-best four assists for SVC. 

Morgan Instone led all scorers with 20 points for the Eagles. Two others joined her in double figures, as Dani Atkinson tallied 17 and Rachel Anstine recorded 14 points and a team-best eight rebounds. 

The stat sheet was relatively identical, as both teams converted 44 percent of its field goals, with Juniata making seven three to six for Saint Vincent. The Bearcats converted 12-of-16 at the free throw line, while the Eagles made just 8-of-19 (42 percent) at the charity stripe. Juniata held a 46-35 advantage in rebounding over Saint Vincent. Both teams took care of the basketball, as Juniata committed just eight turnovers to just six for SVC. 

The loss drops Saint Vincent to 1-2 overall while Juniata improves to 4-0. 

Saint Vincent hosts La Roche College in non-conference action Sunday (Nov. 26) at the Carey Center. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.