Saint Joseph’s Surges in Second Half, Downs La Salle

The Hawks Win Their 11th Straight 60 – 29 at 20th and Olney

PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/18/2024 –

In a game where both offenses were sputtering early, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks turned the offense around in the second half to post an 60 – 29 win over the La Salle Explorers. After one quarter of play La Salle led 6 – 4. Saint Joseph’s pulled back ahead and went into the locker room with a 19 – 17 advantage. Then the Hawks won the third quarter 20 – 9 and were on their way to win number 24 of the season.

“We knew it was going to be a battle with Philly Big Five across the way, the second time we are playing these guys,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Cindy Griffin. “Even though you prepare for a slow pace you still have to play it. I thought besides that first quarter we really handled it well. To hold a team to 29 points is pretty, pretty amazing, and I’m really happy with our defense. We scored enough points to get the separation we needed.”

First Quarter – Defense Dominated

When the offense isn’t going, depend on the defense. That’s what coaches will tell the team. This game validated that strategy. The shooting percentages were low, under 20% for each side. The Explorers were making it very difficult for the Hawks inside players, a lesson learned from their previous meeting on Hawk Hill where front line scored 52 points. In the first half SJU forwards Talya Brugler and Laura Ziegler totaled 10 points. La Salle was executing their defensive game plan.

“For the most part our team really locked in and followed the game plan,” said La Salle guard Makayla Miller. “Try to attack the paint and make them skip the ball a lot. I thought we did that and that’s why we were able to limit them and stay within striking distance. Our guards played really hard and gave it their all against Brugler and Ziegler.”

But the Explorers could not pull away despite better second quarter shooting. The Hawks response. depend on the defense.

“Sometimes when your shot isn’t going in, depend on your defense,” said Griffin. “And today we were terrific. We’ve got to continue to keep the buy in moving forward and it’s going to be really important.”

The 29 points allowed were the fewest given up the SJU this season.

Saint Joseph’s Opened Strong After Halftime

The Hawks got it going on the inside with Ziegler and Brugler getting the first two baskets within the first minute and seven seconds. Fifty seconds later guard Chloe Welch hit a three-pointer and the Hawks were on their way. La Salle could only muster 9 points in the quarter.

“Once Laura got her passing going to Talya, it just opened the floor,” said Griffin. “Our skip passes were on point. Chloe hit that big three early and everybody relaxed.”

“They were fronting us inside, so there were a lot of double teams coming from the weak side,” Brugler said. “The kick outs were open and we started hitting those shots. It opened the inside and we were able to get the looks we wanted.”

La Salle Shooting Woes Continue

For the game the Explorers made 10 of 47 for 21.3% and 3 of 19 from distance, and was their lowest offensive output. The trend of low shooting percentage continues to their detriment. The team believes the key in turning it around is ‘put the ball up.’

“My approach has always been keep shooting the ball,” MacGillivray said. “Believe in your abilities. We keep trusting you and it’s going to turn around. Hasn’t happened yet.”

“All I can say is we keep shooting and we try to stay in the gym and get up extra shots,” Miller explained. “We’re getting the looks. It’s not like these are contested shots. All you can do is keep shooting and give yourself a chance to win.”

What the Numbers Say

Saint Joseph’s made 22 of 52 for the game (42.3%) and converted 4 of 17 three-pointers, all in the second half. After the first quarter the Hawks were good on half of their 40 shots. Brugler scored a game-high 16 points and Chloe Welch added 12 points. Laura Ziegler scored 8 points and took down a game-best 10 rebounds. The Hawks assisted 18 times on 22 baskets with Brugler getting five.

Miller led the way for La Salle with 13 points. She scored 10 of the Explorers 12 points in the second half. Jolene Armendariz had 6 points and 6 rebounds. LSU scored 3 fourth quarter points all from the foul line.

Weather the Storm

This is what the Hawks did. In tournament time it is called survive and move on. A good lesson learned right now, but this SJU team has been able to demonstrate that quality.

“We have a mature and disciplined team” Griffin said. “We know what our strengths are and one of those is having a great deal of confidence and discipline.”


Written By: Glenn Papazian


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