March 14, 2002
PHILADELPHIA (03/14/02) - Starting fast and never looking back, the Saint Joseph's women's basketball team (24-7) cruised to an 84-55 victory over Siena at the Fieldhouse in the opening round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament. Senior Susan Moran (Tullamore, Ireland/Sacred Heart), who scored 19 first half points, led all scorers with 25 points and kept Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year Gunta Basko under wraps for much of the game. Sophomore Stephanie Graff (Drexel Hill, Pa./Archbishop Prendergast) added 19 points, shooting a perfect 9-9 from the floor.
The victory propelled SJU into the tournament's second round. The Hawks will travel to Vermont, a 70-63 winner over Holy Cross, on Sunday at 1:00. A victory in Burlington would setup an Atlantic 10 Conference reunion with either George Washington or former A-10 foe Virginia Tech.
Shooting a blistering 61% in the first half, SJU jumped out to a quick 12-4 advantage, showing little rust from a 10-day layoff. With Moran and Graff getting easy looks in the post, the Hawks connected on numerous layups in the opening minutes. That lead soon moved into double digits.
"We got off to a really good start offensively," assessed SJU head coach Cindy Anderson-Griffin, "and I think that carried over on the defensive end. We got a lot of steals with our ball pressure on the wings...our rotation was there...our rebounding was there. It just set the tone from the get go."
Leading by ten points, a quick 7-0 run over a two minute stretch midway through the first half sucked the fight out of the Saints. Senior Jane Meade (Voorheesville, N.Y./Voorheesville), one of four Hawks in double figures, capped the spurt with a three pointer. Meade finished with 11 points. SJU closed the first half on a 10-2 run and led at intermission by 22 (42-20).
Moran was 9-14 from the floor in the first half, tallying 19 points in the period. The Atlantic 10 Player of the Year was also effective at containing Basko, who scored just two first half points.
"A lot of people were telling me she was like me and that made me play with a little more pride," stated Moran. "I felt like I had to shut her down. I enjoyed the matchup. I enjoyed the little bit of hype before hand."
Outscoring the Saints 30-11 over the first ten minutes of the second stanza SJU watched its lead balloon out to 43 points (74-31) with 9:38 left.
Calling off the dogs, Siena was able to close the gap late in the game to make the score more respectable. The Saints finished the game on a 23-10 run that closed out the contest and made the final margin of victory at 84-55 for SJU.
In addition to Meade, Moran and Graff, SJU also receivedd a 12 point seven rebound, seven assist effort from Amra Mehmedic (Zenica, Bosnia/Gimnazija).
Siena was led by Erica Anderson's 15 points. Basko added 13 points and seven boards and Liene Jansone tallied 11 points.
The Hawks, who are now 22-1 this year when leading at halftime, finished the game shooting 57.9% from the floor to just 34.4% for the Saints. SJU also dominated the boards, 43-27.