STANDISH, Maine - #1 Saint Joseph's College (27-1) claimed the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Women's Basketball Championship for the third-consecutive season after defeating #3 Suffolk University (21-7), 73-59, in the tournament title game at the Harold Alfond Center on Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's earns the GNAC's automatic qualifier into the NCAA DIII Tournament, which begins on Friday, March 2nd. The national tournament bracket will be announced live on the NCAA website on Monday.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Rams, who shot 57.1% (8-14) from three-point distance in the first two quarters, headed into halftime with a 36-35 edge, but the Monks dominated the third period to the tune of a 25-6 scoring advantage and held a 60-42 cushion going into the final frame.
Trailing 38-35 after the Ram's first possession in the third quarter, the Monks posted a game-altering 15-3 run en route to securing a 50-39 lead with 4:33 left in the penultimate period. Junior guard Kelsi McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.), who was tabbed as the GNAC Tournament MVP for the third-consecutive season - scored 13 of the hosts' 15 points during the surge.
In the third quarter, Suffolk went 1-10 from three-point land and was 2-14 from the field overall while Saint Joseph's shot 71.4% (5-7) from downtown and 61.5% (8-13) from the field in what played out to be the game's deciding frame.
STATS OF THE GAME:
After a sluggish start, the Monks ended up posting better shooting percentages than the Rams in all three facets - overall (43.4 - 38.2), three-point (46.4 - 40.6), and free throws (87.5 - 50). The two teams combined to commit just 20 turnovers, with the Monks making 11 and the Rams nine on the afternoon.
All five of the Monks' starters recorded double-digit point totals.
LEADERS - SAINT JOSEPH'S:
McNamara was 5-9 from beyond the arc and tallied 24 points with seven assists
Junior guard Hannah Marks (Waldoboro, Maine) scored 13 points with four boards, three assists, and two blocked shots - she also drilled a half-court shot at the end of the third quarter
Junior forward Emily Benway (Rochester, N.H.) netted 11 points with a game-high 13 rebounds
Junior guard Julia Champagne (Brunswick, Maine) added 10 points and six caroms
Senior forward Regan McFerran (Albany, N.Y.) chipped in with 10 points, four rebounds, and a pair of assists
LEADERS - SUFFOLK:
Freshman guard Jenni-Rose DiCecco (Falmouth, Mass.) registered 24 points, five rebounds, and five assists
Sophomore forward Alexis Hackett (Charlton, Mass.) added 12 points, eight rebounds, and three assists
Senior guard Georgia Bourikas (Hull, Mass.) contributed seven points, four boards, and two assists
Kelsi McNamara, Saint Joseph's - MVP
Julia Champagne, Saint Joseph's
Emily Benway, Saint Joseph's
Jenni-Rose DiCecco, Suffolk
Georgia Bourikas, Suffolk
Olivia Bolden, Albertus Magnus
Kayla Weaver, Emmanuel
With the triumph, the Monks extend their winning streak to 26 games - the longest in SJC Athletics and GNAC women's basketball history - and have now won 37-consecutive home games. The 2018 women's basketball team now holds the SJC Basketball - both genders - record for single-season victories. The 1986, 1987, and 1999 men's basketball teams all notched 26 wins.