CLICK HERE to read original story, written by Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Kevin Thomas
STANDISH — Emmanuel College erased a 20-point deficit to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, meaning trouble for undefeated Saint Joseph's College, ranked No. 8 among the nation's Division III women's basketball teams.
"Very intense game," Monks guard Kelsi McNamara. "This is our home court and we need to protect it."
Saint Joseph's never surrendered the lead and celebrated a 79-69 win over the Saints, Tuesday night at the Alfond Center.
The Monks improved to 22-0, and 10-0 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. Beating Emmanuel (17-5, 9-1), gives Saint Joseph's the green light toward home-court advantage in the GNAC playoffs.
The Monks have won 47 straight games on their court.
Champagne, the senior from Brunswick also scored the 1,000th point of her career.
It's been quite a stretch for seniors McNamara (1,905 points), Emily Benway (1,208), Champagne (1,002) and Marks (897).
"We've had a good four years together," Champagne said.
Saint Joseph's is on target for an undefeated regular season, with three games remaining – a non-conference matchup against UMaine-Fort Kent on Sunday, and then games against Norwich (2-7 in the GNAC) and Lasell (0-8).
Getting past Emmanuel was the biggest hurdle.
The Monks opened a 27-11 first-quarter lead, shooting 55 percent.
"Just sticking to our game plan," said Marks, of the Monks' forte – using several passes or the creative drives of McNamara.
Emmanuel could not get its fast break going because Saint Joseph's made too many shots.
"We didn't play any defense and they were killing us," Emmanuel Coach Andy Yosinoff said.
Saint Joseph's had a 47-31 halftime lead, but the Saints rallied in the third quarter. Benway and Champagne both missed minutes after picking up their third foul, and Emmanuel was double-teaming McNamara off screens and keeping an extra defender inside.
That left 5-9 sophomore Jordan Jabar with room and she responded with nine rebounds and nine points – six of them coming in the third quarter, keeping the Monks ahead, 55-53 after three quarters.
"She had her best game," Saint Joseph's Coach Mike McDevitt said. "They were not going to guard her and she hit some big shots."
Still, the Saints tied it to start the fourth quarter with a layup by 6-3 Mary McCarthy.
Emmanuel blew two chances to take the lead, because of a Champagne steal and a miss (and Jabar rebound). McNamara scored on a drive through traffic. After another miss (and one of Benway's eight rebounds), Marks hit one of her five 3-pointers.
"They doubled Kelsi off the pick and the pop (three) was there," Marks said. "Kelsi knew where to find me. Just had to knock them down."
Marks hit two more 3-pointers in the quarter, McNamara scored a drive and a 3-pointer – after a hustle rebound by Julia Quinn – and Saint Joseph's led 71-59 with 3:01 left. The Monks hit their free throws to close it out.
Four Saints scored in double figures, led by guard Yuleska Ramirez-Tejeda's 17.