STANDISH, ME – Saint Joseph's (10-5, 4-0 GNAC) topped Saint Joseph (Conn.) (9-5, 2-3 GNAC), 77-72, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) women's basketball contest at the Harold Alfond Center on Wednesday night. Senior center Ashley Geel (St. George, Maine) registered 19 points and seven rebounds in was the Monks' sixth consecutive victory.
For Saint Joseph's, the six-game win streak – which includes four conference victories - is the longest since the Royal Blue rattled off six straight triumphs during the 2004-05 campaign.
St. Joe's led for the majority of the game and held a 17-point cushion midway through the second stanza, but visiting Saint Joseph (Conn.) rallied late with a 23-6 run to diminish the deficit down to just one point with 2:35 remaining. Sparked by a traditional three-point play from Geel, the Monks proceeded to post a 5-0 surge and managed to hold off the Blue Jays with solid defensive play in the closing minutes.
Neither team was able to muster much offense in the early going as a free throw from Saint Joseph (Conn.) freshman guard Brianna Ferraro (Waterbury, Conn.) was the only point on the board until Saint Joseph's junior forward Alyssa Grigware (Biddeford, Maine) netted a layup 5:33 into the contest.
The Monks held an 8-3 lead after junior guard Danyelle Shufelt (Sutton, Vt.) scored a layup at the 12:33 mark of the first half but the Blue Jays received quick three pointers from sophomore guard Devon Diliberto (Waterbury, Conn.) and freshman guard Claire Consonni (Bristol, Conn.) to cut the hosts' advantage down to one point, 10-9, less than a minute later.
Unfazed, Shufelt answered with a three-pointer of her own to help spark a 9-0 run that led to the Monks' first double-digit cushion of the evening as a Geel layup capped the SJC surge and lifted the hosts to a 19-9 lead with 8:34 left in the opening half.
The Blue Jays would strike back with a pair of buckets and subsequent defensive stands over the following two minutes. The Monks countered with a 12-5 run, which led to a 31-18 edge with 2:17 before the break, and carried a 35-25 lead into the intermission.
Consonni came off the bench to lead all first-half scorers with 13 points in 13 minutes on the floor while Geel and Shufelt netted eight points apiece in the first 20 minutes of play.
In the first half, Saint Joseph's shot 42.9% from the field, 30.8% from three-point range, and 50% from the free throw line, while Saint Joseph (Conn.) shot 33.3% from the floor, 36.4% from downtown, and 50% from the charity stripe. The Monks' bench accounted for 21 of the team's 35 points in the first period.
The Blue Jays were able to cut their deficit down toe eight points, 38-30, when sophomore guard Mary Hyde (Derby, Conn.) drilled a three-pointer 59 seconds into the second stanza, but the Monks regained the double-digit advantage on their next possession when sophomore forward Lindsay Moore (Barrington, N.H.) connected on a layup at the 18:42 mark.
Saint Joseph's went on to lead by at least 10 points Consonni netted a three-pointer, her fifth trifecta of the night, in the midst of the Blue Jays' late rally to make it a 69-60 game with 6:21 remaining. Over the next three minutes freshman forward Heather Framski (Prospect, Conn.) and Ferraro tallied four points apiece and a bucket by the latter reduced the Monks' seemingly-insurmountable lead down to just one point with 3:17 to go.
St. Joe's sophomore forward Abby Young (North Yarmouth, Maine) and Saint Joseph (Conn.) sophomore forward Shauna Sullivan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) traded points in the paint in the following 40 seconds as the hosts' lead teetered at one with 2:35 left. After a scoreless minute of play, Geel was fouled on a made layup off a pass from classmate Allie Parent (Camden, Maine) and converted the three-point play with a freebie to provide her team with a four-point cushion.
Forced to foul, the Blue Jays tagged Shufelt – the Monks' top free-throw shooter (89.3%) – and the junior made both freebies to extend her team's lead to 76-70 and essentially put the game out of reach.
For the Monks, Moore recorded 11 points and nine rebounds, Shufelt added 10 points and a pair of steals, senior guard Megan McDevitt (Cumberland, Maine) added eight points, and Young, freshman guard Sarah Assante (Standish, Maine) and freshman guard Nicolette Kapothanasis (Westbrook, Maine/Portland) netted seven points apiece.
A pair of impressive individual landmarks were reached tonight as Geel surpassed the 900-point plateau and McDevitt reached the 800-point mark in the victory over the Blue Jays. Geel, who entered tonight's contest needing only three points to reach the mark, went over 900 with a layup off a pass from sophomore point guard Mackenzie Dufour (Augusta, Maine) with 8:34 left in the opening half. McDevitt was five points shy of 800 prior to this evening and nailed the mark on the nose with a three-pointer 23 seconds into the second stanza.
Geel is the 20th player in SJC women's basketball history to score 900 or more points in their career while McDevitt is the 31st to surpass 800 career points.
For the Blue Jays, Consonni poured in 19 points off a 5-8 shooting performance from three-point distance, Framski notched an impressive double-double with 14 points and 15 caroms, and Dilberto chipped in with 13 points and four assists.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 41.2% (28-68) from the field, 28.6% (6-21) from three-point distance, and 78.9% (15-19) from the FT line. Saint Joseph (Conn.) countered by shooting 38.2% (26-68) from the floor, 29.1% (9-23) from downtown, and 78.6% (11-14) from the stripe. The Monks held advantages in rebounds (46-36), assists (15-11), steals (8-2), points in the paint (42-28), points off turnovers (15-8), and bench points (35-23) en route to the victory.
With the win Saint Joseph's improves to 4-1 in the history of the series with Saint Joseph (Conn.), a team that defeated the Monks by a 62-49 margin last season. Prior to tonight's contest the Monks had not scored more than 74 points against the Blue Jays.
Both teams resume conference play this Saturday, when Saint Joseph's travels to Johnson & Wales and Saint Joseph (Conn.) hosts Pine Manor College. Both contests are slated to tip off at 1:00 PM.