PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/17/2019 – The Explorers and the Hawks met in an Atlantic 10 game. The Big Five game was on Hawk Hill last January. This may not have been the city series game, but it sure felt like it. Saint Joseph’s won its 4th straight game 64- 63 over the La Salle Explorers at the Gola Arena. In the end the Hawks found a way.
“In the second half, they were just making shots at key moments,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin. “Our kids just never wavered. Alyssa (Monaghan) put us on her back and made plays, (Katie) Jekot put is on her back and made plays. We got defensive stops at the other end. I can’t be more proud of them.”
The momentum appeared to be going in the direction of the Explorers. In a back and forth game that saw 16 ties and 15 lead changes, La Salle led 62-59 with 1:50 to play on a three-pointer by Shayla Sweeney, who had a team-high 13 points.
Saint Joseph’s answered when Alyssa Monaghan drove towards the basket, putting up a quasi-hook shot that went in. She was fouled and converted to tie the game with 23 seconds remaining.
“That wasn’t the idea,” Monaghan said about the play. “I was at the top and I didn’t figure I would drive and get the foul. I didn’t want to go in too deep because Shalina (Miller) can block shots. I put up a little floater at the foul line and it worked.”
La Salle got the ball back, and a free throw by Shalina Miller gave the Explorers a one-point margin, but Saint Joe’s had another chance.
On the inbounds play Hawks guard Katie Jekot was fouled. She converted both for the final points, but 10.3 seconds still remained. The Explorers had two chances to get a winning shot. Hawks guard Mary Sheehan deflected a pass, then Lula Roig blocked the last shot. The horn sounded. It was a team effort on defense.
“It was just heads up,” Griffin said about the final sequence. “It was our refuse to lose attitude. We have it. We’re getting better this time of year.”
Monaghan lead all scorers with a career-high 27 points making 7 of 11 from the floor and a perfect 11 of 11 from the free throw line, one shy of another career-mark. Jekot added 18 points. Sheehan set a collegiate-best taking down 9 rebounds. As a team Saint Joe’s made 18 of 18 from the charity stripe.
La Salle had five players score in double figures, a first for the Explorers since 2010. In addition to Sweeney, Miller had 12 points, 9 rebounds, and tied her career-best with 5 blocked shots. Miller has 99 career blocked shots, third best in program history. Jeryn Reese, Michelle Nichols, and Janay Sanders all contributed 10 points. La Salle goes to 4 – 23 overall and is 1 – 12 in the league.
Saint Joseph’s improves to 10 – 15 and evens their Atlantic 10 record at 6, moving up to 7th place in the league standings. The Hawks needed all their reserve to get the win, and did. They will host Duquesne on Wednesday.
“We kept fighting and fighting, playing good defense, and drawing fouls,” Monaghan said about their effort. “Our team has a lot of character and we are not willing to lose.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian