PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Joseph's women's basketball moved a step closer to its first outright Big 5 title in 13 years as the Hawks topped Penn, 60-52, Friday evening at Hagan Arena. With the win, Saint Joseph's improves to 3-0 in the Big 5, and 13-4 overall, as it enters its final City Series game Sunday at La Salle.
In true Big 5 spirit, the teams were knotted at 50-50 with under two minutes to play, when senior Ilze Gotfrida hit a jumper and followed up in the next possession with a great lead pass to Natasha Cloud on a baseline layup to make it a 54-50 advantage for SJU with 1:13 to play.
Penn would get a pair of free throws to make it a two point game, but Cloud would answer with a pair of free throws with 32 seconds to play to push the lead back to four points. Saint Joseph's would come up with two more stands on defense and hit 4-of-4 from the line to close out the tightly-fought contest with the win.
After a back-and-forth opening to the first half, Penn broke a 14-14 tie, using an 8-1 run to open a 22-15 advantage on a basket by Sydney Stipanovich at 3:08. The Hawks, who shot just 23.5 percent in the first half, went 0-for-8 from the field and turned the ball over twice during the Quakers' run.
Saint Joseph's answered back, cutting the deficit to four, but Penn built its lead out to 10, before a pair of Erin Shields free throws made it a 31-23 game in favor of Penn at halftime.
Down 35-27 early into the second half, Saint Joseph's used a 10-0 run over a 5:03 span to take a 37-35 edge on a running jumper by Shields at 11:58.
The lead would change hands five times from there as Penn held a 45-44 edge with 6:18 to play.
With possession and looking to add to the lead, the Quakers' Kara Bonenberger was called for a flagrant foul and a technical foul, giving SJU the opportunity to regain the lead. Follow a pair of free throws from sophomore Sarah Fairbanks and Shields, the Hawks got a jumper from Gotfrida to up its lead to 50-45 in a 27 second span.
The Quakers (8-5, 1-2 Big 5) fought back to tie the game at 50 all before the final minutes.
For the game, Saint Joseph's shot just 31.7 percent overall (20-of-63) and 30.8 percent from three-point range (4-of-13), but converted 16-of-20 from the foul line. The Hawks additionally outrebounded Penn 44-42, and caused 15 turnovers that led to 16 points.
Individually, Gotfrida posted her second double-double of the season, scoring 12 points to go with 11 rebounds. Shields paced SJU with 16 points, while Cloud added 12 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.
At the other end, Penn hit just 21-of-63 from the floor, including 3-of-16 from behind the arc (18.8 percent) and 7-of-11 from the foul line (63.6 percent). Bonenberger was the only
Quaker in double figures, scoring 17 points before fouling out.
Sunday's game at La Salle is set for a 5 p.m. tip, with the game being televised on the CBS Sports Network.
- SJU -