February 26, 2021 –
The Saint Joseph’s Hawks were on an eight-game losing streak and fell behind in the fourth quarter. The team responded with 10 straight points over the last four minutes. The reward was a 66 – 63 victory over the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure at the Hagan Arena. Katie Jekot led St. Joe’s with 16 points and 6 assists in ending the streak, a statement as to the determination of the Hawks squad.
“We came back,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin. “We showed a lot of grit, we showed a lot of poise and composure down the stretch. We’ve grown from previous games, and that’s the most important thing. Getting a win is icing on the cake.”
Starting the fourth quarter the Hawks led by 52 – 50, but early the Bonnies went on a 9 – 0 to take a 61 – 54 lead with 4:19 to play. Saint Joe’s responded by scoring the next 10 reversing the momentum.
“Our team has been battling,” Griffin said. “We have just lost eight in a row. We came in here and refused to lose, and we could have felt sorry for ourselves, we could have gone down that same path. The resilience of this team and wanting to win so bad for each other, you saw that tonight.”
The run started with back to back three-pointers by Alayna Gribble and Jekot with just over four minutes left. Two important plays.
“We moved the ball and got some really good looks,” said Griffin . “There was a broken down play and just being able to step up and make those shots is huge for us.”
A layup by Kaliah Henderson gave the Hawks the lead with just under a minute and a half to play. Gribble hit a midrange jumper to put the team in front 64 – 61 at the 18 second mark.
It was up to the defense from there and Saint Joseph’s did not allow St. Bonaventure a shot until Asianae Johnson converted a layup until there was 1.2 ticks on the clock. Gribble, who scored 13 points, iced it sinking two free throws.
The seeds of the comeback were planted in the second quarter. The Bonnies were breezing, but the Hawks got some stops and some baskets to get to within 35 – 29 at intermission.
In the third quarter the Hawks were able to get inside for points. They outscored the opposition 23 – 15 to gain an advantage going into the last quarter.
“We knew we had an advantage there,” Griffin said about the offensive adjustment. “We were playing with two bigs and they were playing with four guards. The thought was let’s use them while we can and give them some looks, getting layups and higher percentage shots. We did that.”
Smalls contributed 15 points for Saint Joe’s making 5 of 7 field goal attempts. Henderson scored 10 points and pulled down 7 rebounds and handed out 5 assists. Alexis Santarelli also posted 7 rebounds and 5 assists to go along with her 7 points. The 5 assists were a collegiate-best for Henderson and Santarelli. Jekot converted 4 from beyond the arc tying her career-high.
Johnson totaled 18 points and 6 assists for the Bonnies (6 -13, 5 – 11), both a team-high. Tori Harris added 13 points and a team-best 8 rebounds while Olivia Brown put in 11 points.
Harris is the sister of Seventy-Sixers star Tobias Harris who was in attendance at this game.
The Hawks (6 – 9, 4 – 9) close out the regular season on Sunday hosting the Duquesne Dukes on Senior Day before turning their attention post season.
“We know that the season is not over after Sunday,” said Griffin. “We certainly are just trying to be focused on the game itself, trying to get another win, and position ourselves a little better for the Atlantic 10 Tournament.”
There is still more basketball to play.
Written By: Glenn Papazian