Nazareth knocks off Sage, 52-42

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Host Nazareth was able to even its overall record in women's basketball Saturday as the Golden Flyers took an early lead and held on for a 52-42 win over Sage at the Kidera Gymnasium.

The victory avenged an earlier two-point defeat at Sage and enabled the Golden Flyers to gain a weekend sweep of Empire 8 Conference home games against Utica and the Gators. Nazareth is now 9-9 overall and 5-4 in conference games. The Gators, who also were beaten at St. John Fisher Friday, are 12-6 overall and 6-3 in the E8.

Senior Samantha Peebles scored 20 of her game-high 22 points in the second half and freshman Isabella Gjonaj added a career-high 12 points to pace the Golden Flyers, who led most of the way.

Gjonaj scored five baskets for 10 points in the first 20 minutes as Nazareth led 22-19. The Golden Flyers were able to limit Sage to 23.5 percent shooting from the floor (8-for-34), including just 1-for-10 from three-point range.

Nazareth led for most of the first half with its largest advantage coming on the heels of a six-point scoring spree that ended on a basket by Rachel Benedict (13 points, 11 rebounds) with 9:16 left in the half.

In the third quarter, Nazareth opened an eight-point advantage, 36-28, as Peebles hit a pair of three-point baskets and Benedict and Gjonaj each scored near the ennd of the quarter.  The lead grew to 10 early in the fourth quarter on an offensive rebound and put-back basket by Peebles, who also had six rebounds and two steals.

Sage crawled back to within five, 43-38, with 4:00 left, but Peebles sank four straight free throws to extend the lead to 47-38. Then, after Sage scored, Peebles (10-for-10 from the foul line) sank four more free throws to extend the lead to 51-40.

Nazareth went 19-for-55 from the field overall (34.5 percent) with all three of its three-point baskets coming in the second half.

Nazareth is at Utica Tuesday for an 8 p.m. game. The Golden Flyers are also home next weekend to play Hartwick Friday and Stevens Saturday.