CINCINNATI - St. Joseph's and La Salle went in opposite directions yesterday in the first round of the Atlantic Ten Conference women's basketball tournament.
St. Joseph's (17-12), the fifth seed, jumped on 12th-seeded Rhode Island (6-22) for a 19-2 lead en route to a 68-52 victory at Xavier's Cintas Center.
"That was the key," Hawks coach Cindy Griffin said after her team advanced to the quarterfinals today against fourth-seeded Charlotte (18-11). "We knew if we could get a good start, hopefully we could sustain that throughout the game. Our shooters shot the ball really well and I thought our defense was terrific."
In the tournament opener, eighth-seeded La Salle (19-11) was dispatched by ninth-seeded Dayton (12-18), 57-43. The Explorers were down by 19-8 midway through the first half.
Second-seeded Temple (23-6) had a bye and will play St. Bonaventure, seeded 10th, at 4 p.m. today. Also receiving byes were top-seeded George Washington (25-2), the eighth-ranked team in the nation; third-seeded Xavier (23-7); and Charlotte.
During the regular season, St. Joseph's and La Salle were involved in closer contests with yesterday's opponents.
St. Joseph's had escaped from Rhode Island with a 73-70 victory, and Dayton had prevailed over La Salle, 59-57, at the buzzer.
Helping the Hawks yesterday were career games by Jen Oyler, who had 21 points, and Brittany Ford, who added 14.
Oyler torched the Rams with a 5-for-10 effort on three-point shots.
"I hadn't really been shooting that great for the last couple of games," she said. "I needed to have a good game. The last time we played them, because they play a lot of zone, I couldn't hit anything. Today, I guess I was just on."
St. Joe's beat Charlotte, 67-59, at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse during the regular season.
"We're going to be playing a team with a little more arsenal as far as two all-conference kids on their team," Griffin said, referring to Charlotte's Danielle Burgin and Sabrina Gregory. "We just have to play our brand of basketball and roll it out there. I think we have a very good shot."
La Salle did not have much of anything in a game that concluded the career of senior star Crista Ricketts. The Explorers shot 18.5 percent from the field in the first half and 28.8 percent overall.
Dayton advanced to today's noon quarterfinal against George Washington.
"For whatever reason, today we were bad and Dayton was good," La Salle coach Tom Lochner said. "It's not a reflection on our season as a whole, but today was one game out of 30, and we picked the wrong day."
Ricketts, with 17 points, was the only Explorer to score in double figures. She finished with 1,645 career points, third on the all-time list at La Salle.
"It was a tough one," Ricketts said of Dayton's defense. "Double teams, triple teams we expected. But Dayton really gets in our shorts. All credit to them, but it's not the way you want to go out."
St. Bonaventure 63, Massachusetts 50 - The Bonnies (16-14) rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to beat the seventh-seeded Minutewomen (17-13). Audrey Latendresse scored 19 points for St. Bonaventure, while Tamara Tathan led UMass with 16.
"Obviously, they're ready to play - they showed that by coming back," Temple coach Dawn Staley said of the Bonnies. "Against St. Bonaventure, we're going to have to stop penetration and keep them off the free-throw line and take advantage of what we have in our inside play."
St. Louis 69, Richmond 61 - Katie Paganelli scored 19 points to lead the 11th-seeded Billikens (13-16) past the sixth-seeded Spiders (13-17). St. Louis will face Xavier today.
Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or email@example.com.