Women’s basketball wins defensive battle vs. Saint Michael’s

Christopher Elwell, Sports Editor

The New Haven women’s basketball team continued their great start to the season against Saint Michael’s, winning the 55-44 defensive battle. New Haven now starts the year 6-2, their best start since the 2019-2020 season. With the loss, Saint Michael’s falls to 1-6, still searching for their first conference win of the season.

New Haven was unable to click early on offense, with no points in the first two-and-a half minutes of play. Junior guard Marigona Bacaliu drilled a three-pointer to get the Chargers on the board and tie the score at three, then grabbed a key rebound to set up another three by guard Camryn DeBose to put them ahead.

Saint Michael’s made it a one-point game after two free throws by Makayla Blake, but forward Briana Van Cleaf continued the Chargers’ hot start from three with another to stretch the lead to four. The Purple Knights continued the early trend of the game with another three from Paige Slaven to bring the deficit back to one with six minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Both offenses struggled for the rest of the quarter, but Blake was able to end the three-minute scoreless streak with a layup to put Saint Michael’s ahead by one. New Haven could not hold on to the ball with three turnovers during the skid, unable to sink any shots for the remainder of the first 10 minutes of play.

Saint Michael’s built onto their lead with a three from Slaven with over two minutes left in the quarter, which would be the final basket made of the quarter. After a timeout was taken by New Haven, the offense still could not click, finishing the first with just nine points.

Senior guard Kameryn King started off the second quarter on a better note for the Chargers with a layup, the first of her 18 points, a team-high for the game. After a block by Anika Kapral, she finished her own play with a layup to put the Purple Knights up by five. King answered right back with another layup, but New Haven could not gain any ground after Slaven nailed a jumper to put Saint Michael’s back ahead by five.

Junior guard Gabrielle Stickle cut into the deficit with a big three-pointer, but New Haven’s offense still struggled, not scoring another basket for the next six minutes until King added another layup with 10 seconds remaining in the half.

Saint Michael’s continued to add to their lead, building it up to as many as 11 with 30 seconds left in the quarter. They were able to take advantage of missed shots by the Chargers, allowing them to control the ball in transition and dictate the pace of the game, closing out the half with a 28-19 lead.

Senior forward Aurora Deshaies got herself on the board with a layup to make it a seven-point game, and after a layup by Kapral, New Haven was able to bring themselves back into the game with 13 unanswered points to give themselves their first lead since 2:48 left to play in the first quarter.

DeBose started it off with a jumper, followed by another from Bacaliu, and after a steal by forward Leighanna Lister, King nailed a three to tie the game at 30. King then added a layup, and Lister capped it off with a layup following an offensive rebound after a missed free throw by King.

Saint Michael’s responded quickly, tying the game back up at 34, which would stand until just over two minutes left in the quarter, broken up by a free throw from Briana Van Cleaf. New Haven’s one-point lead disappeared after a three from Blake, but King was able to knot the score at 37 with four seconds left in the quarter with a layup to set up a tightly contested fourth quarter.

King added to her strong campaign, opening the fourth with another three, followed up by a jumper from DeBose and a three by Bacaliu to give New Haven their largest lead of the game. The defense continued their strong play, forcing a turnover that led to a layup by DeBose that put the Chargers ahead by eight.

With just over four minutes to play, DeBose forced another miscue, leading to her being fouled and making two free throws to give New Haven a double-digit lead. Saint Michael’s could not generate enough scoring chances to get themselves back in it, failing to score a point in the final 2:25 of the game. DeBose and King added on two free throws each, sealing the game for the Chargers with a strong 55-44 win.

New Haven will come home for their final game before the winter break on Tuesday, Dec. 13 when they take on Assumption. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. as the Chargers look to go into the break strong and win their fourth consecutive game. More information can be found at NewHavenChargers.com.