11/17/2013 – The women's basketball team maintained their perfect record as they defeated Siena Heights 69-64 in front of their home crowd. The victory improved the Saints record to 5-0 on the season and to 1-0 in league play, while Siena dropped to 2-1 overall and to 1-1 in the WHAC. The Saints are now one of only two teams in the league to retain a perfect record.
Aquinas, who was picked to finish seventh by the league coaches, continues to be the early surprise in the WHAC. Siena Heights, who currently is ranked 16th in the nation, was a national qualifying squad during the 2012-13 season and picked second in the WHAC preseason poll. Coach Nash's crew knew this first league contest would be a litmus test to check the pulse of the team.
After exchanging early punches the Saints from Grand Rapids made the first attack. A 17-1 ambush over a seven minute stretch midway through the first half allowed the Saints to stake claim to a 23-11 advantage. The lead would swell to as many as 17 late in the first half before heading to the break with a 35-22 lead. Aquinas outshot Siena Heights 41%-30% in the first half and forced twice as many turnovers (10-5).
The Saints maintained their arms length advantage through the first ten minutes of half number two. A pair of Marisa Marx converted free throws at the 10:19 mark allowed the Saints to keep a 53-39 lead. The proverbial late-game comeback seemed inevitable, but it just had not materialized for the Saints from Siena.
The inevitable became a reality over the next seven minutes as Siena clawed their way back into the contest. A 22-9 spurt gave the Heights a one point lead with just over three minutes to play. With the game entering the final minute of play, Carly Bardwell hit the biggest shot of her career, as her two point make put the Saints up for good with 46 ticks left on the clock (65-64). Solid defense and four free throws salted the game away and allowed the Saints to exit the court with a 69-64 stunner on opening weekend of WHAC play.
Taelor Sanders paced the Saints with an almost triple-double. Sanders scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out eight assists for the Aquinas cause. Allison Heberlein chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds, while Brooklynne Lane accounted for ten points, six rebounds and two blocks.
The Saints will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Fort Wayne to battle Indiana Tech (4-2, 1-0 WHAC).