MIDDLEBURY, VT. – Three Knights scored in double-figures, including a team-high 14 points from Shannon Phelan, as the Mount Saint Mary College Women’s Basketball team passed its first road test of the season with a hard fought 68-61 victory at Middlebury Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s win moves the Mount to 1-1 on the season and in the process collects its first victory in four meetings with the Panthers. Middlebury dropped its 2022-23 season opener and falls to 0-1.
Both teams came out firing in the opening stanza, with the Knights holding a 21-20 advantage after 10 minutes of play.
Middlebury built a lead as large as five points following an Alexa Mustafaj jumper with 4:39 left in the opening stanza.
Mount Saint Mary answered with the next four points, including a pair of free-throws from Phelan, to pull to within 14-13 and would grab a 16-15 lead with 1:38 left in the quarter on a Phelan three-pointer.
After the Panthers jumped back in front 17-16, the Knights ripped off the next five points, including another Phelan triple, to surge in front 21-17 with 40 seconds left in the period.
The Panthers closed the quarter with the final three points, all from the free-throw line, to get back to within a single point heading into the second stanza.
The second quarter was as tightly contested as the first, with Erin Smith and Mustafaj trading three-pointers in the opening 26 seconds of the frame.
Five straight points from Mustafaj pushed Middlebury back in front 30-27 with 7:42 left before halftime.
Lauren Desrats got the Knights back even with a three-pointer, but Mustafaj answer again with a personal five-point run to move the Panthers in front 35-30 with 5:37 left in the first half.
Ciarra Quinn and Desrats hit back with back-to-back triples to get the Mount back in front 36-35 and spread the lead to 39-35 on an E. Smith free-throw with 3:40 left in the second stanza.
The Panthers pulled to within 39-37 with 92 seconds left before halftime before a Katie Smith jumper sent the Mount into the intermission with a 41-37 advantage.
Mount Saint Mary shot an even 40-percent from the floor over the first 20 minutes and connected on 10 three-pointers before the intermission.
The third period featured just 22 combined points, with the Knights holding just a two-point lead heading into the fourth period.
Mount Saint Mary was held off the board in the third frame until the 7:33 mark when K. Smith knocked down a jumper to break a 41-41 tie.
The Knights would not trail until the 5:23 mark of the period and fell behind by as many as four points following an Emily Downer conversion with 3:41 left.
The Knights pulled back in front following a pair of Kaeli McAnally buckets and went to the fourth up 51-49 following a Quinn lay-up with 65 seconds left in the quarter.
Mount Saint Mary never trailed in the fourth quarter and would not allow the Panthers closer than 51-50 following a Downer free-throw in the opening minute of the stanza.
The Knights answered with the next seven points, including four from Phelan, to surge in front 58-50 with just under eight minutes left in regulation.