GNAC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: #3 Suffolk @ #1 Saint Joseph's

GNAC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: #3 Suffolk @ #1 Saint Joseph's

STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (26-1, 16-0 GNAC) will host #3 Suffolk University (21-6, 12-4 GNAC) in the 2018 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament Championship on Saturday at 1:00 PM.



Saint Joseph's cruised past #8 Mount Ida College, 83-54, in quarterfinal play on Tuesday night and topped #5 Albertus Magnus College, 78-65, in semifinal action at the Alfond Center on Thursday.

QUARTERFINAL: #1 Saint Joseph's 83, Mount Ida 54 (BOX)

DECIDING FACTOR: The Monks held a 43-22 lead in rebounds and, subsequently, posted a 44-10 points in the paint advantage.


  • Junior guard Kelsi McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) netted 26 points with seven assists, three rebounds, and a pair of steals
  • Junior guard Julia Champagne (Brunswick, Maine) notched a very efficient offensive contest, going 9-10 from the floor en route to scoring 22 points with six boards

SEMIFINAL: #1 Saint Joseph's 78, #5 Albertus Magnus 65 (BOX)

DECIDING FACTOR: The Monks scored 28 points off 25 Albertus turnovers and committed 15 miscues – off which the Falcons netted 15 points – in the victory.


  • McNamara scored a game-high 31 points – including 16 in the fourth quarter – with five assists and five rebounds while shooting 10-12 from the FT line
  • Champagne tallied 16 points, five boards, and three assists

Suffolk cruised past #6 Johnson & Wales University, 68-46, in a quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday and advanced to the conference title bout via a 73-68 upset victory over #2 Emmanuel College on Thursday.

QUARTERFINAL: #3 Suffolk 68, #6 Johnson & Wales 46 (BOX)

DECIDING FACTOR: The Rams nearly doubled up the Wildcats on the glass (52-27) and, as a result, held a 28-14 points in the paint advantage.


  • Freshman guard Jenni-Rose DiCecco (Falmouth, Mass.) netted 23 points with six rebounds and four assists
  • Sophomore forward Alexis Hackett (Charlton, Mass.) pulled down 19 rebounds and scored 14 points

SEMIFINAL: #3 Suffolk 73, #2 Emmanuel 68 (BOX)

DECIDING FACTOR: Free throw shooting proved to be the difference, as the Rams went 19-20 (95%) from the line and the Saints posted a 68.4% (13-19) mark from the charity stripe.


  • Senior guard Georgia Bourikas (Hull, Mass.) notched an impressive double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds
  • Hackett also registered a double-double with 13 points and 13 caroms


Saturday's victor earns an automatic qualifier into the 2018 NCAA DIII National Tournament, which begins on March 2nd. The complete bracket will be announced on Monday.


Saint Joseph's:

  • The Monks have won 25-consecutive games – the longest winning streak in the history of both SJC Athletics and GNAC Women's Basketball - and carry a 36-game home win streak into the championship game
  • All five of the Monks' starters are averaging at least 5.9 points per game with four netting 10.7 PPG or better
  • The Monks' only loss this season came at the hands of Babson College – a team that advanced to the NCAA DIII Sweet 16 last season - on November 17th
  • Saint Joseph's leads the conference in FG% (44.8%), three-pointers made per game (8.5), 3FG% (37.3%), rebound margin per game (8.7), fewest turnovers per game (14.7), fewest personal fouls per game (13.5), fewest PPG allowed (50.6), opponents' FG% (33.0%), and opponents' 3FG% (24.8%)


  • The Rams enter the GNAC Championship as winners of five straight games - their last loss was a 73-45 setback at the hands of the Monks in Standish on February 6th
  • Suffolk has lost just on game this winter when scoring more than 56 points - an 82-79 loss to Saint Joseph's on January 27th
  • On the flip side, the Rams are 1-5 when scoring 55 or fewer points this season and 2-5 when shooting less than 35% from the field
  • Suffolk leads the GNAC in FT% (74.3%) and blocked shots per game (4.9) and ranks second in three-pointers made (7.6) and attempted (23.0) per game as well as 3FG% (32.8%)


Saint Joseph's:

  • McNamara leads the Monks' offense with 18.5 PPG and leads the conference in three-pointers made (81) and assists (153), ranks second in FT% (86.9%), third in points (499), and fourth in scoring average and field goals made (166)
  • In the midst of a breakout season, Champagne averages 13.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game and currently leads the GNAC in 3FG% (40.8%, 42-103), ranks fourth in A/TO ratio (1.8), and fifth in in FG% (50.2%, 120-239)
  • Junior forward Emily Benway (Rochester, N.H.) is averaging 12.4 PPG and 7.0 RPG and ranks second in the GNAC with a 56.0% (136-243) FG%
  • Junior guard Hannah Marks (Waldoboro, Maine) contributes 10.7 PPG and ranks second in the GNAC in 3FG% (40.6%, 54-134) and sixth in three-pointers made (54)


  • DiCecco leads the Rams with 14.2 PPG and ranks third in the conference with 63 three-pointers made
  • Bourikas contributes 14.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game and leads the GNAC with a 92.5% (98-106) FT%; she also ranks third in the conference in 3FG% (40.2% (37-92)
  • Hackett is averaging 11.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game and ranks first in the GNAC in defensive rebounds (226), third in total rebounds (289) and rebounding average, and fourth in blocked shots (44)
  • Freshman forward Jordan Hipwell (Ballston Spa, N.Y.) enters the title game averaging 8.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per tilt and is seventh in the GNAC with a 47.2% (93-197) FG%


Saint Joseph's: Mike McDevitt '83 (526-192, .733) - 26th collegiate season

Among the most successful coaches in all of NCAA DIII Women's Basketball, McDevitt ranks 18th among active coaches in victories and 23rd in winning percentage. Only three coaches in New England have more wins and four have a higher win rate.

During his tenure at Saint Joseph's, Coach McDevitt has guided the Monks to at least 20 wins in 17 different seasons, the seventh-highest total in the history of NCAA DIII Women's Basketball. During his career, McDevitt has garnered 10 'Coach of the Year' accolades, including both the GNAC and Maine Women's Basketball Coaches Association (MWBCA) honors last season.

Suffolk: Ed Leyden (395-267, .597) - 25th collegiate season

Leyden has built the Rams' program into one of the most consistent and recognized programs in the New England region. He has been honored by the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) on five occasions with the league's Coach of the Year, most recently in 2012-13. During that season, Leyden's team set the Suffolk University mark for most wins by a basketball team with 21.


The Monks and Rams faced off twice this season, as St. Joe's rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat Suffolk, 82-79, in Boston on January 27th and proceeded to topple their conference counterpart, 73-45, in Standish on February 6th.

In the latter contest, Saint Joseph's - with the help of four three-pointers in the opening five minutes - opened play with a 14-4 run, as Champagne drained a three 4:35 into the first quarter to provide the hosts with a 10-point advantage. The Monks shot 47.4% (9-19) from three-point distance while the Rams connected on just 18.2% (4-22) of their shots from beyond the arc and Saint Joseph's tied a season-high with 27 assists in the triumph.

McNamara scored 17 points with nine assists and Benway added 16 points and five boards in the victory while Hipwell and DiCecco netted nine points apiece in the losing effort.


Saint Joseph's is 12-7 all-time versus Suffolk University and has defeated the Rams in five-consecutive meetings dating back to the 2015-16 campaign.


The Monks have appeared in the GNAC Tournament in 10 of 11 seasons as a member of the conference and claimed the program's first GNAC Championship in 2014, when the Royal Blue defeated Norwich University, 63-47, in the title game at the Alfond Center on March 1st, 2014.

As the top seed in the 2016 conference tournament, Saint Joseph's defeated perennial powerhouse Emmanuel College, 66-62, in the GNAC Championship and the Monks claimed their second-consecutive title with an overtime 81-70 win over the Saints in the 2017 GNAC Championship.

The Monks are 14-0 at home – and 15-6 overall - in GNAC postseason play since joining the conference in 2007. Saturday's GNAC Championship game appearance will be the Monks' third-consecutive and fifth in the last seven seasons.

Suffolk has advanced to the GNAC Tournament for 23-consecutive seasons and the Rams, in search of their first GNAC crown, will be making their fifth appearance in the conference title game - and first since 2013 - on Saturday.

The Monks have faced the Rams twice in the GNAC Tournament (2011, 2013) and lost both contests. Both of the previous postseason meetings took place in Boston.