PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/22/2016 – It was a Big Five game. The Saint Joseph’s Hawks visited the University of Pennsylvania at the Palestra. Both teams went at each other without letup. Defenses were tight, shots were contested, steals were met with steals, and blocked shots answered with blocks. Maybe it was not pretty at times, but it was gritty. It was a Big Five game.
“Coming from Connecticut it is not the same environment as it is here,” Hawks guard Sarah Veilleux said. “But you learn quickly that it is scrappy and competitive. It’s not always pretty, sometimes it is pretty ugly. Whoever wants it more usually wins.”
The Hawks held the lead for nearly the entire game. They had to hold off a late Penn charge and did so making six consecutive free throws at the end and earned a 57 – 53 win. Veilleux led Saint Joe’s with a career-high 15 points and she matched her career-best in rebounds with 7. She was 5 – 10 from the floor and 3 of 5 from distance matching her best-ever in made three-pointers.
“My teammates got me the ball,” said Veilleux. “It was a great team effort, we needed that win. Everyone was there, diving out of bounds to save the ball. It was a great team win.”
Saint Joe’s limited the Quakers to 33.3% shooting (17 – 51). Penn put on a charge at the end of the getting to within two at 55 – 53 with 16.5 seconds to pay. But it was the middle periods that put Penn in a hole from which they could not dig out. In the second and third quarters the Red and Blue went 5 for 27 and trailed by 40 – 34 going into the fourth.
“We are struggling on the offensive end,” Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We have to be able to score the ball to win. Right now, we just aren’t getting it done.”
The Hawks had two other players score in double figures. Junior forward Adashia Franklyn scored 11 and took down 7 rebounds. Junior forward Chelsea Woods had 10. As a team SJU shot 45.5% (20 – 44). The Hawks outrebounded the Quakers by a 30 – 25 margin.
Senior center Sydney Stipanovich scored a game-high 16 points for the Red and Blue. Junior forward Michelle Nwokedi recorded a double-double with 11 and 11. Junior guard Anna Ross scored 14 points.
Both teams have a 1 – 3 record. Saint Joseph’s notched their first win of the season, and evened their city series record at 1 – 1. And that still matters.
“You knew it would be a battle for forty minutes,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin. “Our kids played with a lot of confidence. It was a test for us to know we can win a close game, and we got an A.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian