St. Joe’s Wins the City Title Outright With a 64 – 39 Victory Over La Salle
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/15/2024 –
The Saint Joseph’s Hawks sweeps the city, and are the Big Five Champions, their first since the 2013-14 season. And it is an accomplishment the Hawks had their eyes on this season.
“It was one of our goals,” Laura Ziegler said about the significance of winning the tile. “We’ve been waiting for this since the beginning of December when we played Nova and won. We really wanted to be Big Five champions. It means a lot for our confidence moving forward. We want to keep the flow going.”
Inside Game Key to the Win
St. Joe’s got most of their offense from the inside duo of Talya Brugler and Laura Ziegler. When the team found them inside, or they worked together, good things happened for the Hawks. Brugler tied her season-high with 26 points making 11 of 12 field goals. And a three-pointer as well. The eleven baskets also tied her season-best. Ziegler scored 16 points and had 16 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the campaign. The sophomore forward handed out 6 assists to tie her collegiate-best.
And ball movement was effective as the Hawks assisted 19 times on 26 baskets.
“That was really helpful because they were fronting us inside,” Brugler said. “The more we were getting ball reversed around the horn, the easier it was for me to get positioning inside, and that’s what works best for us.”
Key Run of the Game
La Sale fell behind 16 – 8 after one quarter, but won that second quarter to pull to within 22 – 19 at halftime. The Explorers tied the game, but the Hawks got a three-pointer from freshman Gabby Casey to get the lead back.
Early in the third quarter this was a one-point game when Explorers forward Emilee Tahata drained a three-pointer. SJU responded with a 13 – 4 run behind Brugler and Ziegler who scored 11 of the points. The ball was getting inside again.
“Talya is a special player,” said La Salle Coach Mountain MacGillivray. “I thought we contained her, but when we had to change the pace to try to win, that gave her a lot of opportunities to eat our lunch.”
The quarter ended with a three-point bank shot by Hawks guard Julia Nystrom to stretch the lead to 43 – 32. St. Joe’s won the fourth quarter 21 – 7.
La Salle was limited to 31.9% shooting, and the 39 points scored was their second lowest offensive output of the year, and was the least number of points allowed by SJU this season.
“Offensively if it’s not our day we can always rely on our defense,” said Hawks Coach Cindy Griffin. “We struggled in the second quarter, but we defended. Holding them to 19 points is pretty good and under 40 for the game. Those are things that require a lot of grit and hustle. Defense is a commitment. Once we stay committed on that end of the floor, it definitely helps with opportunities in the offensive side.”
What the Numbers Say
Hawks guard Emma Boslett tied her career-high handing out 5 assists. Saint Joseph’s was good on only 7 of 21 three-pointers. SJU had a 34 – 14 points in the paint advantage.
Miller scored a team-high 14 points for the Explorers making 5 of 14 from the floor and 2 of 3 from distance. She is becoming a force on offense for La Salle.
“She is tough to handle,” MacGillivray said about Miller. “She can pass, she can score on all three levels. One of the things that excited her about coming to La Salle is that she knew she was going to have the opportunity to shoot the ball form the perimeter. And she has been really effective from there which can make her harder to guard.”
Tahata scored a season-high 12 points.
The Hawks Are the Champions of the Big Five for Both Men’s and Women’s Basketball
The Hawks won the men’s title under the new format. The women’s team in the traditional format. It is the first time in school history that both teams are the outright titlists, and that is of great significance to Saint Joseph’s basketball.
“It’s important,” exclaimed Griffin. “When you come to St. Joe’s it’s bigger than just the Atlantic 10. You’re playing for the Philadelphia Big Five which is historically great as far as basketball players that have come before us and those that will come after us. Coaches that have been legendary. To be part of the championship team is really special. The men winning the Big Five this year with a new format was challenging, but they did it. Us winning the Big Five and sweeping the city schools is a goal of ours. It gives us bragging rights for the next 365 days, and we’ll take it.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian