A three-game winning streak by the St. Joseph’s women’s team ended in a gritty 64-45 loss to Vanderbilt on Tuesday despite Kaliah Henderson’s 21-point performance.
Vanderbilt’s effective half-court trap contributed to St. Joe’s 25 turnovers, as well as the Commodores’ strategy of trapping the Hawks’ main ballhandlers.
“Not the outcome that we were looking for today,” coach Cindy Griffin said. “[Vanderbilt’s] defense has been great the whole year and we knew that. I thought we didn’t handle it as well as we could’ve and should’ve today with all those turnovers turning into points.”
St. Joe’s came into this game fresh off wins against Yale, Penn, and Temple. During the run, graduate student Katie Jekot earned the Atlantic 10 player of the week and freshman Laila Fair (who did not play this game due to a lower-body injury) took rookie of the week honors.
Vanderbilt’s suffocating defense had a huge impact on St. Joe’s shooting as well, resulting in 36% from the field and 18% from deep. St. Joe’s finished with only one three in the first half, which came in the opening minutes of the game from graduate student Alayna Gribble.
St. Joe’s ended the first half with only 19 points, 12 of which came from Henderson off the bench. She proved to be a difference maker, including an impressive up-and-under layup following a critical steal in the thirdrd period. Henderson had come into this game averaging 9.9 points per game.
The Hawks fought back to start the third quarter, going 5-for-10 from the field including a Jekot three to cut the Vanderbilt lead to nine.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Hawks looked to continue the rally and come out with a win. Unfortunately, Vanderbilt’s three-point shooting was unmatchable and the Hawks themselves were only limited to only 10 points in the 4th, going 4-for-12.
Jekot was averaging a little over 18 points and 52.2% from three coming into this game. She went 4-for-11 from the field, finishing with 12 points and notching two threes.
The Hawks, now 4-7, look to bounce back on Dec. 28 when they face North Alabama at home to tip off the Hawks Classic.
“We’ve got to get back to playing better together,” Griffin said. “Before this game, I thought we were sharing the ball a lot. We’ve got a nice little high low game; we’ve got kids that can pass the ball and move into the gap, so I think from that standpoint, we have to continue to do that.”