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Saints Pull Away from Warriors; Advance to WHAC Semifinals on Saturday

Photo by Mike Dickie
Photo by Mike Dickie

ADRIAN, Mich. -- The 17th-ranked and second-seeded Siena Heights women's basketball team defeated seventh-seed Rochester 69-53 in the first round of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) tournament on Thursday night in the SHU Fieldhouse. The win marks the 27th this season which ties the 1978-79 women's basketball squad with the program record for the most wins in a season. WHAC first-team selection, Demi Russell (Toledo, Mich.) led the Saints with a game-high 29 points.

THE BASICS

Final Score: Siena Heights 69, Rochester 53

Location: Adrian, Michigan (SHU Fieldhouse)

Records: Siena Heights (27-4), Rochester (11-20)

HOW IT HAPPENED

Russell got the scoring going for the Saints with a layup in the opening two minutes of the game to give the Saints a 2-0 lead. Two-straight baskets by the Warriors but the score at 4-2 before Russell hit a second layup to tie the game and spark a 14-2 run for Siena that lasted into the final two minutes of the quarter and gave SHU an 18-6 lead. Rochester hit two free throws in the final five seconds to put the score at 23-11 when the first quarter ended. 

The Warriors began the second with a 9-0 run the cut the Siena Heights lead to 23-20 with 6:51 left in the half. WHAC all-defensive player, Kiana Votava (Port Huron, Mich.) ignited a 5-0 run for the Saints with a layup that increased the lead to 28-20 with less than a minute coming off the clock. Rochester whittled to lead down to six points, 31-25, with just under 3:30 left in the second, but Siena would hold onto the lead, 35-28, as the teams entered the locker room for half time.

The third quarter was the Russell show, as the senior went off by scoring the first 13 points for the Saints in the quarter. Her final point came off a free throw that she made with 1:19 left in the period. WHAC all-academic selection, Addyson Tomczak (Bay City, Mich.) scored the final four points for Siena in the third as the Saints held a 52-42 lead going into the fourth.

SHU pushed the lead to 14 with a layup and two free throws to start the final quarter of the contest. Rochester cut the margin to 11 before Votava started an 8-0 run for the Saints that put SHU up 64-45 with 6:01 left, but the Warriors would get no closer than 16-points down before time expired.

TOP SAINTS

• Russell added five rebounds to her stat line. She shot 11-23 from the floor and 7-11 from the charity stripe.

• Votava finished with 13 points on 6-16 shooting. She also contributed three rebounds.

• WHAC Player of the Year, Peyton Banks (Wadsworth, Ohio) had a quiet night with 11 points on 1-4 shooting from the floor. She was 8-8 in free throws and hauled in five rebounds along with an assist and a steal.

THE OPPOSITION

• Lexey Tobel led Rochester with 26 points. She also pulled down seven boards, dished two assists, one steal, and had two blocks.

• Devan Valko scored eight points and had two steals.

• Delaney Bolles led the team with nine rebounds.

UP NEXT

The Saints will host the third-seeded Lawrence Tech Blue Devils in the semifinals of the WHAC Tournament this Saturday, February 29. The game is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m., EST, tip-off.