The Hawks Go to the Semifinal Round for the First Time Since 2017
WILMINGTON, DE 3/4/2022 –
In order to be the bracket buster it needs a team to be determined, have all the little things go right, and be ready to take advantage of the opportunity. That describes the Saint Joseph’s Hawks who will go to the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Tournament. Seventh seeded Saint Joe’s upset the #2 seed Rhode Island Rams 51 – 48. The Hawks are the lowest remaining seed in the tournament.
The youthful Hawks would not be denied. After the media timeout in the fourth quarter The Hawks were hanging on to a 44 – 42 lead as just over a four and a half minutes remained. The team came out of the huddle with the look that they were not going to be denied.
“Our motto for this week is that we bend, but we don’t break,” said Hawks forward Talya Brugler. “We were bending a little bit in the fourth quarter, but we knew we had to come out strong and finish what we started. Finish the game and win.”
Stops Get The Job Done
After the timeout the Hawks got a stop, then a layup by Olivia Mullins gave them a four-point edge. Rhode Island did not get closer then two the rest of the way. The Rams had one last chance to tie the game, but a three-pointer by Dolly Cairns was off the mark. URI got the offensive rebound as the horn sounded.
The front court won it. Laila Fair had a game-high 17 points on 8 of 14 shooting and added 7 rebounds. Fellow freshman forward Talya Brugler scored 10 points making half of her 10 shots. The Hawks got this win on their disruptive interior front court defense. The talented forwards for the Rams Marie-Paule Foppossi and Emmanuelle Tahane combined to shoot 10 for 28 from the floor. Foppossi scored 11 points while Tahane had a team-high 13 points.
“We were locked in defensively,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin. “We were able to take away their primary and secondary options. We rebounded the ball and got stops when we needed to get stops. We’re gritty, we fight, and we scrap, and believe we can win in those games.”
Little Plays That Turned Out To Be Big Plays
In the third quarter the Hawks took a 26 – 25 lead on a three-pointer by Julia Nystrom who scored 9 points in the game, all on three-point shots. All in the first part of the third quarter. At the end of the quarter that lead extended to 8 points on a jumper off a turnover as the clock expired. A little play, but it lifted the team.
“As a team we were all psyched,” said Fair.
The Rams scored the first seven points of the final ten minutes to pull to within one. Saint Joe’s responded to hold a 48 – 44 lead on a basket by Brugler. That would be the last field goal for SJU who got three free throws by Katie Jekot the rest of the way.
Jekot had a game-high 6 assists and added 5 rebounds.
Dolly Cairns and Dez Elmore contributed 10 points for the Rams. Foppossi and Tahane pulled down 6 rebounds each.
Building For the Present and Future
In the semifinal round SJU plays against the winner of the #6 Fordham vs. #3 UMass game. Another game for Saint Joe’s and another building block for the future.
“First and foremost, the kids are having a lot of fun,” Griffin said. “They enjoy playing with each other and for each other. It’s important for this young group to taste winning. Get back to that and stay hungry and really embrace that. And embrace all of the hard work that comes with it, because winning is hard. This group does not shy away from hard work. I’m excited about what we can do for the rest of this week.
Written By: Glenn Papazian