MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior Clairee Putnam went 15-for-16 at the free-throw line and freshman Grace Guachione came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points to propel the Saint Anselm College women's basketball team to a 67-53 victory over Southern Connecticut State University on Tuesday evening at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
With the win, Saint Anselm improves to 10-7 on the season and 6-4 in Northeast-10 Conference play while winning for the seventh time in eight tries on its home court. Southern Connecticut, which sits atop the Southwest Division of the NE10, suffered its second-straight setback to fall to 12-5 overall and 6-3 in league games.
Sophomore Shannon Ryan paced the Hawks with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting and added seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action. Putnam did all of her damage at the charity stripe, scoring 15 points and contributing five rebounds and five assists. The senior is now 25-for-26 (.962) at the free-throw line over the last two games. Guachione went 5-for-6 from the field, including 4-for-5 from behind the arc, on her way to 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
Southern Connecticut got out to a 9-5 lead midway through the first quarter after back-to-back layups by Abby Hurlbert. The Owls led 11-8 after six minutes before the Hawks scored seven-straight points to take a four-point advantage, with Guachione accounting for five points during the run to help the Hawks to a three-point lead after a quarter.
A Ryan jumped on Saint Anselm's first possession of the second quarter gave the Hawks their largest lead of the game at the time at 19-14. The Owls responded by closing the gap to two, 23-21, before Guachione's second three of the game got the lead back to five. Sophomore Sara Messler drained a three-pointer of her own with 49 seconds left in the first half to give the Hawks a 30-21 lead at the break after holding the Owls to 27.6 percent shooting.
Ryan scored her team's first eight points of the second half and Guachione chipped in with another three as the Hawks stretched their lead to 14, 41-27, four minutes into the third quarter. Saint Anselm extended the lead to 44-29 after an Ali Glennon make from behind the arc and took a 47-35 advantage into the final 10 minutes.
Messler beat the shot clock with a deep three-pointer for the first points of the fourth quarter to grow the lead back to 15. The Hawks held the Owls scoreless for the span of 5:41 starting late in the third until a Hurlbert three-point play with 5:36 remaining. Consecutive Hurlbert treys cut Saint Anselm's lead to single digits, 55-46, with 3:45 left, but Putnam calmly drained 12-straight free throws down the stretch to end any thought of a late rally.
Hurlbert scored 13 of her team-high 17 points in the second half for Southern Connecticut, which got 13 points from Kiana Steinauer. The Owls shot just 30.2 percent (19-for-63) from the field in the game, compared to 44.2 percent (19-for-43) for the Hawks. The visitors turned 26 Saint Anselm turnovers into a 25-10 advantage in points off turnovers, but Saint Anselm enjoyed a 44-29 advantage on the glass.
The Hawks begin a run of three-straight road games with a trip to American International College on Friday, Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m.