SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Sophomore Sara Messler of the Saint Anselm College women's basketball team scored a team-leading 15 points on Friday, helping the Hawks to a 64-56 victory over American International College.
Saint Anselm (11-7, 7-4 NE10) has now defeated the top two teams (AIC, Adelphi) in the Southwest Division, according to the Northeast-10 Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Yellow Jackets fall to 8-10 on the year and to 2-8 against league opponents.
Messler was 5-for-11 from the floor, bombing two three-pointers to lead the Hawks in that statistic. Sophomore Shannon Ryan scored 13 points and hauled in six rebounds, throwing up three blocks to fill the stat sheet. Freshman Peyton Steinman made 11-of-12 free throws, giving her 11 points to equal the scoring output of senior Clairee Putnam.
Steinman became the third-straight Saint Anselm student-athlete to record at least 10 free throws in a game as Putnam has made 27 of her last 28 shots from the charity stripe. All of Steinman's points on Friday came at the free throw line, equaling Putnam's feat (15 points on 15 free throws) last time out against Southern Connecticut State.
The Hawks offense was slow to get going, falling behind 6-0 through the game's first 3:20. A stunning 14-3 scoring run by Saint Anselm, led by five points from Putnam, created a 14-9 lead down the stretch in the first quarter. Messler, senior Ali Glennon and Putnam each had a first quarter trey to help the Hawks to a 14-12 lead after the first 10 minutes.
The Yellow Jackets tied the game with a layup only nine seconds into the second quarter, but the Hawks took the lead for good with a three-pointer by freshman Grace Guachione only 57 seconds later. American International cut the lead to two points with 4:20 left in the first half, but the Hawks went on an 8-2 run just before halftime to build a 32-27 lead.
Saint Anselm put the game out of reach with a 9-0 scoring run just out of halftime, building a 41-31 lead with 14:57 to go in regulation time following a layup from freshman Jenoyce Laniyan. Another six-point scoring run created the first of three separate 12-point leads for the Hawks who would cruise to an eight-point victory.
The Hawks took advantage of 18 turnovers by the hosts, scoring 21 of the game's 27 points off of turnovers. The Yellow Jackets also committed 27 personal fouls, sending Saint Anselm to the line 33 times.
Dana Watts led American International with 26 points and 17 rebounds.