PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/17/2014 – The Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball team needed to call on its resiliency and its defense to earn a 60 – 52 win over the University of Pennsylvania at the Hagan Arena. It was not going to be easy. The Hawks were not shooting the ball well especially in the first half. The team kept its focus and the defense limited Penn scoring allowing the Hawks to overcome an eight-point halftime deficit to get win number 13 this season.
“We stayed together like glue today,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin said. “For forty minutes we played hard, played solid, and steady. The ball didn’t go in the basket much in the first half, but we never wavered. We stuck with the game plan, and believed in each other. We got stops defensively when we needed to.”
Saint Joe’s made only 23.5% shooting in the first half (8 – 34). The Quakers were able to get the ball inside to get the lead at the break. The second half saw the Hawks limit the Red and Blue from scoring. Penn was 7 for 27 (25.9%) in the latter half. The Red and Blue held an 8 point lead, but went cold being held scoreless for over a seven minute stretch. Saint Joseph’s took a 37 – 35 lead on a layup by senior guard Erin Shields who scored a team-high 16 points. Penn tied the game on a layup by junior forward Kara Bonenberger who had a game-high 17 points. The game turned at the 5:39 mark when Bonenberger committed an offensive foul and then was given a technical which fouled her out of the game. Four free throws by sophomore forward Sarah Fairbanks and Shields gave the Hawks a lead at 48 – 45. Still the Red and Blue fought back to tie the game at 50. A jump shot by senior forward Ilze Gotfrida at 1:50 gave Saint Joe’s a lead they would not relinquish. The Hawks closed out the game with an 8 – 2 run, 6 points by junior guard Natasha Cloud who scored 12 points and added 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals. Gotfrida posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“As a team we stayed together to the end,” Cloud said. “We knew if we stayed ahead in the last two minutes we would come out ahead because we’ve been in this situation before. And we have the fight to finish it.”
This was another heartbreaking loss for Penn who lost at Villanova by a point two days previous. The Quakers are 8 – 5 on the season and are 1 – 2 in Big Five play. Penn looks to even their city series record at Temple on Wednesday, January 22.
“I feel for our seniors,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “These have been games that Penn has struggled to win. We have seniors who had an opportunity to win one here, but came up a little short.”
The Hawks, 13 – 4 this season and 3 – 0 in Big Five play, turn their attention to Sunday’s game at La Salle. In addition to it being an Atlantic 10 game, a win by the Hawks would give them outright Big Five championship. It would have great meaning to the team as expressed by Drexel Hill native and team captain Shields. “It would mean a ton,” said Shields. “I’ve been here for four years and this is our first opportunity to win it. Coming from Philadelphia a lot of our team understands what it means to be from a city of great basketball. Every game has been close. We have to be ready for Sunday to take great pride in winning a championship. We will be ready.”Boxscore
Written By: Glenn Papazian