Saint Joseph's Women's Basketball Tops La Salle To Claim Big 5 Crown

PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's women's basketball team claimed its 16th Philadelphia Big 5 title, and first outright crown since 2000-01, as the Hawks topped La Salle, 64-52, Sunday afternoon at Tom Gola Arena.

Led by a 14-point, nine rebound, nine assist performance from junior guard Natasha Cloud, Saint Joseph's finished Big 5 play with a 4-0 record, earning the program's first city series title since 2008-09 when it split with Temple.

Taking control from the opening basket and never falling behind, the Hawks used an 11-0 run towards the end of the first half to open its' 14-13 lead to a 25-13 advantage on a jumper by Ciara Andrews at 3:05.

Holding La Salle (9-9, 4-2 A-10, 0-4 Big 5) to just 25.8 percent shooting in the first half, the Hawks took a 31-20 lead into the second half.

In the second half, the Explorers cut SJU's lead to 48-44 with 7:40 to go, but the Hawks responded with seven-straight points as a jumper by sophomore Sarah Fairbanks pushed her team's lead to 55-44 with 3:22 to play.

Saint Joseph's (14-4, 3-2 A-10) would hit 9-of-10 free throws from there to close out the victory.

As a team, Saint Joseph's shot 45.1 percent overall (23-of-51), hit 3-of-15 from three-point range and converted 15-of-20 from the foul line. The Hawks finished with a 40-37 edge in rebounds and assisted on 18 of 23 field goals.

Individually, Fairbanks paced SJU with 16 points and added eight rebounds, while senior Ilze Gotfrida and Erin Shields added 10 points apiece.

At the other end, La Salle shot just 32.3 percent overall (21-of-65) and hist just 3-of-15 from behind the arc and 7-of-13 from the foul line (53.8 percent). Alicia Cropper led all scorers with 17 points for La Salle.

Saint Joseph's returns to action Wednesday at George Washington, with game time set for 11 a.m.


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