GNAC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL PREVIEW: #8 Johnson & Wales @ #1 Saint Joseph's

GNAC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL PREVIEW: #8 Johnson & Wales @ #1 Saint Joseph's

STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (25-0, 12-0 GNAC) will host #8 Johnson & Wales University (6-19, 5-7 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament Quarterfinal on Tuesday at 6:00 PM.

OVERVIEW

Tuesday night's victor advances to the semifinal round of the GNAC Tournament and will face the winner of another quarterfinal matchup - #5 Anna Maria College/#4 Suffolk University – on Thursday evening. The higher seed serves as host throughout tourney play.

The other branch of the bracket features quarterfinal contests between #6 Regis College and #3 Albertus Magnus College and #7 Colby-Sawyer College versus #2 Emmanuel College.

The winner of the GNAC Championship game, which will be played on Saturday, February 23rd, earns an automatic berth into the 2019 NCAA DIII Women's Basketball Championship, which begins on March 1st.

SEASON AT A GLANCE

Saint Joseph's:

  • The Monks' perfect regular season is the first in program and GNAC women's basketball history; Saint Joseph's is one of just three teams in the nation to have not yet suffered a loss
  • St. Joe's has won 49-consecutive home games and carries a 36-game winning streak versus GNAC opponents into the tourney
  • Four of the Monks' five starters are averaging at least 11.0 PPG
  • Saint Joseph's leads the conference in three-pointers made per game (9.4), three-pointers attempted per game (26.2), three-point FG% (35.9%), fewest turnovers per game (12.6), fewest points per game allowed (56.1), and opponents' three-point FG% (26.1%)

Johnson & Wales:

  • The Wildcats are 5-0 when pulling down 42 or more rebounds in a game
  • Johnson & Wales is 2-10 in road games this season
  • Six different JWU players are averaging at least 5.6 PPG with two contributing north of 12.5 PPG
  • Johnson & Wales leads the conference in free-throw percentage (73.5%) and ranks fifth in three-point FG% (30.9%) and sixth in three-pointers made per game (5.6) and field goals made (22.0) and attempted (61.4) per game

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Saint Joseph's:

  • (#10) Senior guard Kelsi McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) is averaging 20.9 points, 7.0 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game and ranks as the GNAC leader in three-pointers made (71), free-throw percentage (88.3%), assists (175), and assist/turnover ratio (2.8); she also became the GNAC's all-time leader in three-pointers made (305) and assists (596) – as well as the Monks' career points leader - this season
  • (#41) Senior forward Emily Benway (Rochester, N.H.) is averaging 12.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game and ranks second in the GNAC in field goal percentage (57.4%) and offensive rebounds (108) and sixth in rebounding average
  • (#14) Senior guard Julia Champagne (Brunswick, Maine), the reigning GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 13.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game and currently ranks fourth in the conference in three-point shooting percentage (37.0) and eighth in three-pointers made (47)
  • (#22) Senior guard Hannah Marks (Waldoboro, Maine) contributes 11.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per contest and ranks as the GNAC's leading three-point shooter – for the second-consecutive season - with a 41.5% (59-142) clip from downtown; she is also third in three-pointers made (59) and ninth in assist/turnover ratio (1.6)

Johnson & Wales:

  • (#44) Senior forward Ally Mishol (Longmeadow, Mass.) leads the Wildcats in scoring (13.6 PPG) and rebounding (6.7 RPG) and ranks ninth in the conference in three-point shooting (33.6%, 44-131)
  • (#15) Freshman guard Dede Stevenson (Hartford, Conn.) has been one of the best rookies in the GNAC this season and averages 12.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per contest; the three-time GNAC Rookie of the Week honoree currently ranks second in the conference in three-point percentage (39.2%, 40-102) and sixth in minutes played (857)
  • (#22) Junior guard Brittney Gallagher (New City, N.Y.) contributes 7.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game and ranks third in the conference in free-throw percentage (82.4%, 58-68)

ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:

Saint Joseph's: Mike McDevitt '83 (553-193, .741) - 27th collegiate season

Among the most successful coaches in all of NCAA DIII Women's Basketball, McDevitt ranks 17th among active coaches in victories and 24th in winning percentage. Only three coaches in New England have more wins and four (10+ years) have a higher win rate.

During his tenure at Saint Joseph's, Coach McDevitt has guided the Monks to at least 20 wins in 18 different seasons, the sixth-highest total in the history of NCAA DIII Women's Basketball, with 18 championships. During his career, McDevitt has garnered 13 'Coach of the Year' accolades, including GNAC, Maine Women's Basketball Coaches Association (MWBCA), and New England Women's Basketball Association (NEWBA) honors last season.

Johnson & Wales: Kim Dweck (21-30, .412) – second collegiate season

Dweck, hired as the JWU head coach prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, has guided the Wildcats to a pair of GNAC Tournament berths in as many seasons at the helm. Prior to her time at Johnson & Wales, Dweck served stints as an assistant coach for Robert Morris University (three years) and Rhode Island College (one year).

Dweck played collegiately for NCAA DI program New Jersey Institute of Technology and garnered All-Conference Honorable Mention honors following her senior season.

THE LAST TIME WE MET:

These two teams last faced off on February 2nd, when the Monks toppled the Wildcats by an 85-59 margin in Providence.

Leading 13-7 with 3:48 left in the first quarter, the Monks rattled off 14 unanswered points as a McNamara three-pointer launched the visitors to a 27-9 advantage heading into the second stanza.

The early deficit proved too much to overcome for the Wildcats, as the Monks extended their cushion to 49-26 at the break and went on to claim a game-high 35-point (77-42) lead after Champagne made a free throw with 6:53 left in the fourth frame.

McNamara and Champagne both netted 20 points for the Monks while Stevenson led the Wildcats with a career-high 30 points and Mishol notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards in the setback.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING:

Saint Joseph's is 10-5 all-time versus Johnson & Wales University and has defeated the Wildcats in five-consecutive meetings dating back to the 2015-16 season. The winning margin in the February 2nd meeting is the largest posted by the Monks since SJC defeated JWU by 36 (85-49) on January 21st, 2012.

GNAC TOURNAMENT HISTORY:

The Monks have appeared in the GNAC Tournament in 11 of 12 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. St. Joe's made it three in a row with a 73-59 victory over Suffolk University in the 2018 GNAC Championship.

The Monks are 15-0 at home – and 16-6 overall - in GNAC postseason play since joining the conference in 2007.

In the midst of their 19th GNAC Tournament run, the Wildcats notched a playoff victory in four-consecutive seasons (2014-17) before suffering a first-round setback at the hands of Suffolk University last February. JWU has advanced to the semifinal round seven times since joining the GNAC in 1996 and played in two GNAC Championship games with a conference crown in 2015.

Johnson & Wales is 9-18 all-time in GNAC postseason play.

 

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Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.