NEWPORT, R.I. - Salve Regina University junior guard Meaghan Harden (Sandwich, Mass.) recorded her third double-double in four games with game highs in points (36) and rebounds (15) to lead the Seahawks to a 61-54 victory over Middlebury College in non-league action at the Rodgers Recreation Center.
Seahawks (3-1) win their second straight as the Panthers (3-1) suffer their first loss of 2014-15.
Harden nearly had a double-double before halftime with 22 points and a game-best eight rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
Panther sophomore Elizabeth Knox (Falmouth, Mass.) scored the game's first points on a jumper at 19:21. The Seahawks did not get on the board until Harden swished a 3-pointer at 17:36.
The teams exchanged the lead nine times over the first 15 minutes. Rachel Crews (South Burlington, Vt.) hit a 3-pointer at 13:30 to put the visitors up one (9-8). Three free throws for Salve Regina preceded the first field goal for a Seahawk other than Harden - a 3-pointer for freshman Mary Eden (So. Kingstown, R.I.) at 9:52 for a five-point lead (14-9).
Sabrina Weeks (Los Altos, Calif.) started a 7-0 run for Middlebury with a 3-pointer. Sarah Kaufman (Boulder, Colo.) added a high-arcing shot for two points during the run. Crews gave Middlebury its last lead at the 7-minute mark, 20-19, before Madelyn Brackett's (Coopersville, Mich.) back-door layup at 5:17 returned the lead to the Seahawks and they never relinquished.
Leading 30-25 at the break, Harden had all but eight of the Seahawk points.
Harden started the second half with a baseline jumper for the Seahawks who enjoyed a 16-8 run to open the period. Four other Seahawks contributed to the scoring during the run - Allyson Esielionis (Shirley, Mass.), Laura Anne Dinan (Monterey, Mass.), Samantha Frost (Windham, Maine), and Jillian Woodward (Orono, Maine).
After Dinan's layup gave Salve Regina its largest lead (46-33 at 11:20), Kaufman led the Panthers on a 13-4 run to get as close as four points (50-46 at 3:45). Alexis Coolidge (Jay, N.Y.) converted a fast break layup during the run.
Who did the Seahawks go to? Harden, of course. She had a pair of layups and then six more free throws (school-record 13-for-13 from the charity stripe) down the stretch.
Salve Regina will host UMass Dartmouth on Tuesday (5:30 p.m.) before Thanksgiving break and travels to Bowdoin College next Saturday. The Panthers are home for the first time in 2014-15 on Tuesday and will host Johnson State at 6 p.m.