NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Senior Tori Lehr (Cohasset, Mass.) registered her fourth straight double-double and 12th of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Saint Anselm College women's basketball team recorded a 62-49 win against Merrimack College on Wednesday evening at Hammel Court to capture its first Northeast-10 Championship berth since the 2010-11 season.
The Hawks win their fourth straight to improve to 14-10 on the season, including 10-9 in Northeast-10 play. The 14 victories and 10 conference wins are the most for the program since the 2003-04 squad went 16-12, 13-9 NE-10. Saint Anselm can earn a first-round home game by winning its final two regular-season contests. The Warriors lost for the sixth time in seven games and dip to 11-13, 7-12 NE-10.
Lehr shot 7-for-15 from the field and 5-for-5 at the line, while making a career-best four steals. Classmate Briana Jones (White Plains, N.Y.) scored 18 points (4-8 FG; 1-5 3-FG; 9-11 FT), including 10 in the final 2:01 to help seal the win, and grabbed five rebounds. Fellow senior Kierra Moore (Albany, N.Y.) was huge in just her fourth start of the season as she netted 13 points (4-9 FG; 2-3 3-FG; 3-5 FT) – just one shy of her career high – to go along with four rebounds.
Allison Wagner paced Merrimack with 11 points, while Chloe Rothman added 10.
After allowing the first bucket of the game, the Hawks scored 10 straight, including eight from Moore, to open a 10-2 advantage just 4:36 into the contest, but Merrimack used a 7-1 counter run to slice its deficit to 11-9 with 11:45 remaining in the opening frame.
The Warriors whittled it to one nearly three minutes later when a 3-pointer from senior Ashley Viselli (Groveland, Mass.) sparked an 8-1 stretch that featured five points from Jones and widened the gap to 23-15 with 7:15 to play.
A 5-0 spurt from Merrimack pulled it within three, but four straight from the Hawks padded the cushion back to seven at 27-20 with 3:28 left. Saint Anselm would bring a 29-24 lead into the locker room.
Saint Anselm stormed into the second half on a 12-4 run that featured seven points from Lehr and opened the lead to a game-high 13 points at 41-28 with 15:05 remaining. Merrimack answered with a 15-5 stretch – highlighted by a pair of Wagner triples – to close the gap to 46-43 with 6:30 to go.
The Hawks responded, however, by closing the game on a 12-4 run – with the final 10 points coming from Jones – to equal their largest advantage of the contest.
Viselli chipped in six points (2-5 FG; 2-4 3-FG) and five rebounds, while senior Allie Jones (So. Kingstown, R.I.) tallied four points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The Hawks outshot Merrimack, 36.4 percent (20-55) to 32.7 percent (18-55), while the Warriors narrowly returned the favor from beyond the arc, 35.7 percent (5-14) to 33.3 percent (5-15). Saint Anselm cleaned up at the line as it drained 17 of 23 (73.9%), while the Warriors were 8-for-10 (80%), but did not make a trip to the stripe in the second half. The Hawks owned the boards (41-30) and the paint (28-20), in addition to turning it over one fewer time (16) than Merrimack (17).
The Hawks return to action Saturday, Feb. 22 at 1:30 p.m. when they play host Assumption College on Senior Day at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter @STAHawks.