PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's women's basketball team opened its Atlantic 10 slate with a strong showing as the Hawks led from the tip and never trailed in a 63-46 victory over VCU Saturday night at Hagan Arena.
Looking to open conference play with a win for the 28th time, the Hawks broke an early 6-6 tie quickly backed by strong play at both ends. Over a seven minute span, Saint Joseph's put together a 22-5 run to open a 28-11 advantage on a free throw by rookie Adashia Franklyn. The Hawks converted on 9-of-11 from the floor and hit a pair of free throws, while they stifled the Rams to just 2-of-12 shooting and a pair of turnovers.
Saint Joseph's (5-8, 1-0 A-10) led by as many as 20 in the half before heading into the lockerroom up 38-22 as junior Sarah Fairbanks paced her team with 10 of her game-high 15 points coming in the first period.
VCU (9-5, 0-1 A-10) pushed back in the second half as it slowly cut SJU's lead to just eight. Down 51-34, the Rams used a 10-1 run over five minutes to make it 52-44 with 6:03 to play.
Seeing their lead slowly erased, the Hawks responded. Led by senior Natasha Cloud's 8-of-8 performance from the foul line in the final minutes, Saint Joseph's closed out the game without a field goal in the final 11:39, but converted 11-of-12 from the foul line to earn the victory.
For the game, Saint Joseph's 22-of-55 from the floor, 4-of-16 from three-point range and 15-of-23 from the foul line (65.2 percent). The Hawks finished with a 46-40 edge in rebounding and had 16 assists to just 10 turnovers.
Sophomore Kathleen Fitzpatrick finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists, while Cloud was the third Hawk in double figures with 10 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals.
The Rams were held to just 28.4 percent shooting (19-of-67), 20 percent from behind the arc (3-of-15) and 45.5 percent from the foul line (5-of-11). Isis Thorpe was the lone VCU played to score in double figures, tallying 14 points.
The Hawks return to action on Wednesday at George Washington at 7 p.m.