Guru's Overniter: Saint Joe's Falls in A-10 While Rider (MAAC) and Nova (Big East) Seek Next Step
Saint Joseph’s road building to an NCAA berth out of the Atlantic 10 tournament ran out of gravel Saturday in Richmond, Va., when Duquesne, another team with a sudden hot hand, took down the third-seeded Hawks 78-63 at the Richmond Coliseum.
But to get the automatic bid, the seventh-seeded Dukes (18-14) in Sunday’s championship will have to disrupt the team that has been hot in the A-10 most of the season.
That would be top-seeded Dayton, which stepped to the title round by beating preseason favorite and fourth seed Saint Louis 75-65 in the other semifinal.
The Flyers (21-9) and Duquesne will play Sunday at noon on ESPNU.
In the Saint Joseph’s game the Hawks (17-14) got off to a slow start and fell behind by 14 points but plugged away to eventually go ahead 44-43 with 51 seconds left in the third quarter off a 15-5 run completed by Kristalyn Baisden’s two foul shots.
But the Dukes, looking to gain some revenge for a regular season loss to Saint Joseph’s, went on a 9-0 run to be ahead 52-44 with 8:31 left in the game.
There was still hope for the fans from Philadelphia when Chelsea Woods got the differential down to five points at 58-53 with just under five minutes to play.
Plenty of time, you say? Only if further inroads could be made and as it evolved, that was as near the Hawks would get the rest of the way.
Woods had a game-high 17 points and got 10 rebounds while Amanda Fioravanti had 16 points as did Alyssa Monaghan for Saint Joseph’s.
But Duquesne was more explosive offensively, picking up eight three-pointers to two by the Hawks. Five Dukes scored in double figures led by Chassidy Omogrosso with 20.
Though it was a rough end for a Saint Joseph’s 2017 portion of the schedule run that saw the Hawks reverse a 2-9 record with a 15-5 mark, their season may not be over because the recovered health and performance has caught the attention of the WNIT, which has a 64-team field and has included Saint Joseph’s several times in the past.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal game, the winning Flyers were able to compensate for the Billikens’ Jackie Kemph, the A-10 player of the year, collecting 27 points by getting 13 each from Saicha Grant-Allen and Jenna Burdette.
Alexis Harris had 12 points and 18 rebounds in also holding off Sadie Stipanovich of Saint Louis (24-8).
“We knew coming in this would be an extremely dfficult game,” said Dayton first-year coach Shauna Green. “It was about having a one possession at a time, mentality, which we did. It was a tough win.”
Green cited the role of the bench to nurse Dayton through heavy foul trouble.
Her counterpart Lisa Stone noted, We’ve fallen short in this game two years in a row, and it stings, with a chance at an NCAA bid on the line. But it does motivate us for the future, and we’ve still got basketball to play.”
Rider Seeks Revenge and MAAC Tittle Game
The Broncs of 10th-year coach Lynn Milligan, the MAAC coach of the year, have gone where no previous Rider women’s teams have gone this season with long win streaks, wins at previous impossible places both in conference and out, and a second place finish and seed in the conference tournament.
Now to get an NCAA automatic bid, the only path open in that direction via the conference championship, the Broncs (23-7, 16-4 MAC) will have go in one of two directions they haven’t gone Sunday afternoon when they meet third-seeded Fairfield (17-13, 13-7) in a semifinal game at 1:30 p.m. On ESPN3.
Rider was swept by narrow margins in the two meetings with the Stags, losing in overtime at home and then on the road last weekend in Connecticut.
The other losses on the league slate were dealt in another sweep by top-seeded Quinnipiac when the two meet early on the front end of the schedule.
Whatever happens, the WNIT is looking at Rider with favored eyes so this weekend won't be the last of gaining postseason glory.
Fairfield advanced Saturday beating Marist 61-44 in a MAAC quarterfinal game at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., while Iona topped Siena 67-47 and will face Quinnipiac , which slipped past Canisius 63-58 on Friday when the Broncs got off to a winning start in the quarterfinals beating Monmouth 67-51.
Quinnipiac and Iona will meet at 11: a.m. on Sunday on ESPN3 before Rider and Fairfield complete the semifinal action leading to Monday’s title game.
Rider certainly has a roster capable of advancing with a program record four players – the most of any MAAC member this season – getting all-conference honors.
Senior Robin Perkins, who has missed games in recent weeks with a nagging ankle injury, was named conference player of the year and made the first team while Kamilia Hoskova made the second team, and Julia Duggan on the third team. Stella Johnson made the all-rookie team.
Villanova Opens in Big East
The Wildcats (16-13, 11-7) hit the Big East tournament at Marquette in Milwaukee Sunday as a fourth seed playing fifth-seeded Saint John’s, which they swept during the season.
The game is set for 9:30 p.m. Eastern time.
It’s a win Sunday night Villanova needs since advancing probably means meeting top-seeded DePaul, which swept coach Harry Perretta’s squad.
Creighton, the second seed but tied in conference record with DePaul, also swept Villanova as did Marquette, the third seed.
The result of all this is the Wildcats could make the WNIT field, but at the moment they are probably a bit of a bubble team in terms of prospects.