ROME, ITALY - For the Saints to experience success this winter, a lot of the responsibility will fall upon the shoulders of the squad's three captains. If Saturday's performance was any indication, then the Saints should be just fine heading into the real season. Tri-captains Maja Gerlyng, Lily Grenci and Cristina Centeno combined for 53 points as the Saints ran past the Italian All-Stars 74-55 at Pala Fonte.
Siena led by as much as 21 points and once again excelled in a fast paced, up-tempo style of play, running the Italians all over the court on both the offensive and defensive ends. But it was exceptional shooting, especially early on by Gerlyng, which set the tone.
Gerlyng erupted to score all 20 of her points in the first half on 8-for-11 shooting as the Saints shot 54.5% (18-for-33) in the opening stanza to build a 44-28 advantage.
It was a heartfelt night for Gerlyng, whose grandmother passed away the day prior to the team's arrival in Denmark last week. With her parents and brother in attendance, she gave her family a reason to celebrate.
The Saints pushed their lead to 20 (50-30) early in the third before the Italians battled back with a 14-4 run to close within 10. But they would get no closer as the Saints responded with the game's next 10 points to seal the deal.
Grenci posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, capping a phenomenal four-game tour in which she paced the squad with averages of 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. Centeno meanwhile was solid all-around, contributing 15 points which included a trio of international three-pointers to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
Milica Micovic led all scorers with 28 points and Madalene Ntumba added 13 for the Italy All-Stars which had dropped tight contests earlier this week to both Kansas and Memphis before falling by a wide margin last night against UCONN.
With a successful tour both on and off the court now nearly behind them, the Saints return to the U.S. Monday with numerous memories and high hopes for a successful season.