SAINT LEO, Fla. - The Saint Leo women's basketball team defeated Georgia Southwestern, 77-75, on the opening night of the Sleep Inn Classic, Friday evening from the Marion Bowman Activities Center.
In the first half, both teams matched each other in intensity, and through the first 10 minutes of the initial period, the score remained close with SLU holding a slight 22-20 advantage. Saint Leo, who opened the regular season with a win at Division I Stetson, went on a 10-5 run to increase their lead to seven and held that advantage into the break.
GSW went on a 16-4 run to start the second half; eventually gaining a five point advantage with 12:02 left in regulation. SLU answered with five straight points to even the score at 53. The back and forth tussle continued until it appeared the Lady Hurricanes gained control of the contest with a 10-1 run in a three minute time span, sparked by eight consecutive points from Kanita Holloway.
Despite a 63-54 lead by the Lady 'Canes, the Lions went on a 12-4 run to regain a one-point lead with 2:59 to play. SLU stretched the lead to three on a basket a few moments later. Jonneshia Pineda evened the score for GSW at 71 apiece with 1:12 left when she connected on the first of two free throws, but that was as close as Southwestern would get as Saint Leo scored six of the final 10 points to lock up the testy, hard-fought game.
Holloway connected on 8-of-12 from the floor and led all players with 27 points. Brittany Reynolds posted her eighth career double-double with 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Brandi Burris added 12 points and pulled down seven boards.
Saint Leo had four players score in double figures, including 15 points by Willonda Windham. Lauren Lee added 14 points and nine rebounds. Sierra Williams chipped in 12 points and five rebounds, while Dominique Daniels contributed 11 points and five boards.
As a team, the Lions held a slim advantage from the floor, outshooting the Hurricanes 40.0 % (26-for-65) to 39.1 % (25-for-64). GSW outrebounded Saint Leo, 51-46.
Southwestern returns to action Saturday against Florida Southern on the second day of the Sleep Inn Classic. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.