PHILADELPHIA, Pa. 3/4/12 – The hopes of an all-Philadelphia Atlantic 10 final were dashed as both Saint Joseph’s and Temple were defeated in their semifinal matchups at Hagan Arena. The host Hawks were beaten in the first game by the number one seed St. Bonaventure 78 – 52. The second game saw the third seeded Dayton Flyers outlast second seed Temple 66 – 63. Saint Bonaventure will meet Dayton for the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This is the first appearance in the title game for the Bonnies.
#1 St. Bonaventure 78 #5 Saint Joseph’s 52
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies were led by Seniors Megan Van Tatenhove and Jessica Jenkins who scored 27 and 22 points as they easily defeat the host Saint Joseph’s Hawks 78 – 52. The Bonnies were able to get the ball inside to Van Tatenhove who made 9 of 17 shots. When the Saint Joseph’s defense tried to collapse inside on her, St. Bonaventure got the ball on the perimeter to Jenkins who made 7 of 11 shots, 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Saint Joseph’s had no answers for the Bonnies offensive attack.
“Their key players came to play today,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin. “Van Tatenhove was terrific and Jenkins did her thing. That hurt us. We weren’t able to score enough points to sustain. We didn’t get enough production to be able to defeat a team like the Bonnies.”
On defense St. Bonaventure forced Saint Joseph’s into a sluggish start. Still the Hawks were in proximity trailing 19 – 16 with 9:13 remaining in the half. Van Tatenhove and Jenkins took over at this point leading their team in a 14 – 4 run to halftime giving St. Bonaventure a 33 – 20 halftime lead. Both players scored 7 points in the run. The Bonnies made 12 of 27 shots (44.4%) while the Hawks converted 9 of 27 (37.5) in the half.
“Coach always talks about scores and stops,” said Saint Joseph’s Senior guard Michelle Baker. “If you’re not getting the stops, you’ve got to get the scores. I feel like we didn’t get enough stops. It hurt, but we did not feel like we were out of the game at that point.”
In the second half Saint Joseph’s played St. Bonaventure relatively even for the first 13 minutes. The Hawks needed to out-play the Bonnies, but could not. Baker scored 12 points in that segment of the half. The Hawks used a lot of energy staying in the game, possibly too much playing their third game in three days. The Bonnies put them away with a 13 – 1 run to move in front 70 – 45 with 4:25 remaining in the game.
“You saw how short we were on our free throws, you saw how short we were on our shots,” Griffin said. “That is what was put in front of us. When fatigue takes over and you’re not scoring, it affects your defense. It did today, and it was disappointing because I thought we were beyond that.”
St. Bonaventure had a 40 – 22 edge in points in the paint. The Bonnies went 26 – 53 from the floor (49.1%) and made 5 of 12 three-point shots, 4 by Jenkins. St. Bonaventure out rebounded the hosts 35 – 26.
Baker scored a team-high 22 points. Sophomore forward Ashley Robinson pulled down a game-high 9 rebounds for Saint Joseph’s.
The Hawks finish the season with a 21 – 10 record. They will not win the Atlantic 10 which is what they pointed to this season. However Griffin believes there will be more basketball games for the team this season.
“I do,” said Griffin. “I think we will be in a tournament. We will find out next Monday night, and we will be in one of them.”
#3 Dayton Flyers 66 #2 Temple Owls 63
The Dayton Flyers took a 10 point lead with 5:26 to play, then withstood a furious Temple comeback to hold on for a 66 – 63 win and a spot in the championship game. Temple turned up their defense and behind a 12 – 3 run got to within a point, but a layup attempt by Junior Center Victoria Macaulay rolled around and out with seven seconds to play. Dayton got a steal on the rebound and 2 free throws later had their margin of victory.
“I don’t know if we held them off as we were up 10, and they took on the personality of their coach, they’re tough and they don’t quit,” said Dayton Coach Jim Jabir about Temple getting back into the game. “We knew they were going to come back. Their intensity level picked up, and our last four or five possessions were ugly. We took bad shots at the end of the shot clock and that was due to their defense. Our defense caused our last two points. This was the match up I was concerned about because of their athleticism and toughness, but we were able to gut it out because we have tough kids.”
The game had a back and forth nature as there were 6 ties and 7 lead changes. Dayton took a 36 – 29 halftime lead. Temple came out in the second half and tied the score three and half minutes into the stanza. A three by Temple Senior guard Kristen McCarthy gave Temple a 49 – 46 lead with 11:56 to play. Dayton responded with three of their own by guard Samantha Mackay and free throws by forward Justine Raterman to move in front 61 – 51 at the 5:26 mark.
A three-pointer by Junior forward Brittany Lewis began the final run for Temple. The Owls defense forced Dayton out of their offensive rhythm, and the frenetic pace worked in the Owls favor. With 1:18 to play a layup by Lewis got Temple to within one at 64 – 63. With the ball and a chance to take the lead Temple turned the ball over on a travel by Senior guard Shey Peddy. Still the Owls would get one more chance after another defensive stop. Peddy drove the lane and found Macaulay underneath, but the shot would not go into the basket. After the scramble Dayton got the ball downcourt. Guard Andrea Hoover made two free throws. Temple did not get another chance. Dayton moves to the title game for the second consecutive year.
“We struggled and that had a lot to do with how they were defending us,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza about her team’s performance. “We got rattled, and on the defensive end we were not playing smart basketball.”
“Our team battled until the end despite playing horrible basketball. We still gave ourselves a chance to win at the end.”
Dayton showed balance as all of their nine players in the games scored. Raterman had a team-best 16 points and 8 rebounds. Center Cassie Sant scored 11 points, and Mackay added 10 points. Lewis scored a game-high 19 points for Temple and added 13 rebounds, 10 on the offensive end. Macaulay scored 12 points. Senior guards B.J. Williams and McCarthy each had 10 points. Peddy contributed 10 points, 6 assists, and 5 steals.
Temple finishes the season with a 21 – 9 record. Cardoza feels that the team is deserving of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“I feel like with what we’ve been able to do over the last couple of months we deserve consideration,” said Cardoza. “I think we are playing real good basketball. even though we lost the game today we gave ourselves a chance to win. We didn’t play well, we didn’t do the things we wanted to do. I definitely think we are an NCAA team.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian