CINCINNATI - St. Joseph's Cinderella run through the Atlantic Ten women's basketball tournament continued yesterday with a stunning 57-55 semifinal upset of top-seeded George Washington.
The fifth-seeded Hawks (19-12) rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to emerge in the final seconds over the Colonials (26-3).
However, an all-Big Five final in the title game (today at 5 p.m., ESPN2) was thwarted in yesterday's second game by host Xavier. The third-seeded Musketeers stopped No. 2 Temple, 54-53, to end the Owls' streak of Atlantic Ten titles at three.
Temple senior Kamesha Hairston had a chance to win the game from the right side of the key as time expired, but her running jump shot bounced off the rim.
"I'm very disappointed," said Hairston, a senior. "It hurts a lot. I kind of measured this season on whether we could win a title or not, whether I could carry my team. It didn't happen."
St. Joseph's triumph over the eighth-ranked Colonials also came down to the final minute as the Hawks ended George Washington's 19-game winning streak, including a 14-0 run in the Atlantic Ten.
Brittany Ford hit a pair of foul shots with 34 seconds left to snap a 52-52 tie for St. Joseph's. Timisha Gomez added two foul shots with 13 seconds remaining and another with five seconds left to secure the victory.
"I think it's a big upset," St. Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin said at Xavier's Cintas Center. "It probably ranks right up there, to be able to play a team as talented as George Washington. It is hard to find flaws with them. They're just a solid team all-around."
Just over a week ago, St. Joseph's was routed, 87-60, by the Colonials in Washington.
Temple (24-7) seemed in solid control of the Musketeers (24-7) with a 40-31 lead with 11 minutes, 32 seconds left in the game. However, Xavier then rallied with a 14-4 run and went ahead on Michele Miller's shot with 4:01 to play.
The Owls weren't done, but Joei Clyburn's foul shot with eight seconds remaining snapped a 53-53 tie and became the winning point.
Hairston had 18 points for Temple, while Fatima Maddox scored 13 and Lady Comfort 10 points. Shenita Landry grabbed 17 rebounds.
Clyburn had 15 points for Xavier, and Suntana Granderson scored 11.
In St. Joseph's victory, the Hawks got 14 points from Whitney Ffrench and 12 from Ayahna Cornish. George Washington's Jessica Adair and Kimberly Beck each scored 15 points, but all of Beck's came in the second half. Adair also had 10 rebounds, and Sarah-Jo Lawrence scored 11 points.
George Washington coach Joe McKeown, a graduate of Father Judge, blamed himself for his team's demise.
"I didn't do a very good job of coming out of time-outs and putting us in different places," he said. "St. Joe's made plays, too. I've coached hundreds of games and I probably did as poor a job as I could do in the last three or four minutes."
Despite the losses, both Temple and George Washington are likely to receive at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.
St. Joseph's needs to win the title and its automatic NCAA bid to make the tournament.
Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or email@example.com.