The Bearcat women's basketball team defeated Washington & Jefferson in a key Presidents' Athletic Conference matchup, 69-58 in the Carey Center.
Mara Benvenuti led the way with 20 points and 9 rebounds for Saint Vincent, as the team improved to 8-3 in the PAC, while W&J is now 9-2.
SVC got off to a strong start thanks to Benvenuti, who tallied 12 points in the first quarter. First, she hit a three to put SVC in front 7-2, then followed with a jumper to keep the lead at five, 9-4. A three from Maria Morgan and a pair of free throws from Babette Sanmartin ran the lead to ten, 14-4.
After a three from W&J's Lauren Gilbert later cut the lead to seven, 18-11, Benvenuti dropped another three, and Bri Van Volkenburg added a three of her own to make it a 13-point lead. A pair of free throws from Kiara Arnold competed the run, with SVC in front 26-11.
SVC led at the end of the first quarter, 28-16, and added five straight points to open the second. An Arnold jumper was followed by strong defensive play which resulted in a backcourt 10-second violation by the Presidents. Taylor Boring then hit a three to make it a 33-16 game.
The tempo slowed for much of the remaining part of the half, but another three by Morgan with just under a minute on the clock gave Saint Vincent a 39-25 lead, and the Presidents answered with two points in the closing seconds, leaving the score at 39-27 at the break.
A basket by Sanmartin early in the third quarter gave SVC a 42-29 advantage, but the visitors ended the quarter with a rally. After Kayla Slovenec scored on a putback to make it 49-37 with 1:45 to go, the Presidents went on a 5-0 run in the final minute, making the score 49-42 after three quarters.
After Gilbert hit a three to open the fourth quarter, the Bearcats ended the 8-0 run with a driving layup, followed by a Boring jumper that found the net off the glass, making the score 53-45 at the 8:50 mark.
A pair of free throws by Montrose with 3:25 left in the fourth gave Saint Vincent a 12-point lead, 62-50, but the Presidents refused to quit, hitting three free throws, followed by a Danielle Parker three at the 1:52 mark that made it a 6-point game, 62-56.
However, Benvenuti drew a foul and hit both shots with 1:20 left, putting SVC in front by eight. After W&J answered with two free throws, Van Volkenburg hit two more free throws, sealing the win for the Bearcats.
Sanmartin had 13 points and three steals, while Van Volkenburg added 8 points. For the Presidents, Amirah Moore tallied 19 points, while Parker added 16.
Saint Vincent is now 11-7 overall on the year, while W&J falls to 15-3. The Bearcats return to action on Saturday (January 27), hosting Geneva College at 4PM in the Carey Center.