PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/5/2019 – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks were awarded the #8 seed by tiebreakers and hosted their opening round game against the George Washington Colonials. These teams met last March in the A10 Title game with the Colonials winning. That was a different season, different teams. Saint Joe’s wins this one 61 – 49 in their opening round game at the Hagan Arena. The Hawks move on to Pittsburgh and will meet the first-seeded VCU Rams in the quarterfinals. Bottom line: Saint Joe’s will get to play another game.
“It’s exciting for our players,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin. “We’ve had a lot of success in that run last year, and I think that is something to build on. For the younger kids, to be able to taste a win is very important. I do believe that the first game is always the hardest game. There are nerves, is this going to be our last game? We handled that well.”
Alyssa Monaghan, a senior leader, led the Hawks with a game-high 21 points making 7 of 13 from the floor and 4 of 6 from three-point land. Monaghan had 3 assists, 5 rebounds, most importantly, no turnovers, playing all forty minutes. She now holds the program record for minutes played with 4,079.
“I thought Alyssa had a great speed and tempo about her,” Griffin said. “She ran us for the whole game. The presence she has on the court is exceptional, and makes everyone around her better.”
The game was tight early. George Washington got their points inside. Forwards Kayla Mokwuah and Neila Luma were effective in the first half. They had 19 of the 22 points in the opening 20 minutes for GWU. The Hawks adjusted limiting the inside effectiveness. Luma finished with a team-high 18 points while Mokwuah had 13.
“With the inside game it’s tough,” said Griffin. “The pass has to be perfect. The angle needs to be perfect to post entry. I thought we did a good job of keeping them off balance, pressuring passes, and made them make multiple moves for them to score.”
The game turned in Saint Joseph’s direction in the fourth quarter. Leading by 46 – 38 the Hawks held the Colonials without a field goal until the 3:01 mark . Their first 5 shots were missed. Meanwhile SJU would build a 15 – 4 run to their largest lead at 61 – 42 on back to back ‘and one’s’ by Mary Sheehan and Katie Mayock. Saint Joe’s had five of those in the contest.
George Washington ended with game scoring 7 straight over the last 3 minutes.
For the Hawks Lula Roig scored 14 points making 8 of 11 from the free throw line. Whisper Fischer added 10 and a team-high tying 6 rebounds.
Luma also had 12 rebounds for the Colonials to record her second double-double of the season. Mei-Lyn Bautista scored 11 points.
Saint Joseph’s improves to 12 – 18 overall, and where it counts, are 1 – 0 in the Atlantic 10, continuing to build and get better.
“We have improved, but not perfect in the world of basketball,” Griffin said. “I like the productivity we got today. Different players stepped up, and you have your steadies who we know are going to show up every day.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian