PHILADELPHIA - Backed by a career-high 21 points and 13 assists by junior guard Natasha Cloud, the Saint Joseph's women's basketball team topped Big 5 rival Temple, 73-53, Wednesday evening at McGonigle Hall. The Hawks improved to 7-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 5 with the win.
Up 34-32 to start the second half, the Owls (4-2, 1-1 Big 5) would tie the game at 36-36, but Saint Joseph's would grab momentum from there. Spearheaded by three-pointer by Erin Shields, the Hawks used a 12-2 run to open a 48-38 lead with 12:50 to go on a baseline jumper by senior Kelsey Berger at 12:50.
Temple would cut the Hawks' lead to six, 51-45, midway through the half, but Saint Joseph's would pull away from the Owls from that point. Led by five points from Cloud, the Hawks went on a 13-1 run over three minute span to make it a 66-48 contest.
Saint Joseph's allowed Temple to get no closer than 16 points from there as won on the road against the Owls for the first time since a 49-47 win on January 26, 2003.
In the first half, the Hawks gained control quickly, running out to a 17-5 lead on a three-pointer by Shields at 12:05. Saint Joseph's would push its lead to 14, 26-12, on a jumper by Ciara Andrews with just over eight minutes to play in the stanza.
Temple fought back behind a 19-2 run to take a 31-28 lead on a free throw by Monaye Merritt at 2:03 as the Owls caused six turnovers and held the Hawks to 1-of-6 from the field over a five minute span.
A layup by Jessica Pongonis at 1:31 broke SJU's scoring drought and spearheaded a 6-1 spurt to end the half as the Hawks took a 34-32 edge into the second period.
For the game, the Hawks shot 44.2 percent from the floor (23-of-52), 58.3 percent from three-point range (7-of-12) and hit 20-of-23 from the foul line (87 percent).
Individually, Cloud was 5-of-10 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from behind the arc, and hit 9-of-10 free throws to surpass her previous career-high of 19 points from a season ago at Penn. Additionally, Cloud's 13 assists matched her career-high set this past Sunday at Quinnipiac.
At the other end, Temple shot 30 percent overall (18-of-60), but hit just 2-of-14 from three-point range (14.3 percent) and 15-of-25 from the foul line (60 percent). Natasha Thames' 19 points led two Owls in double figures.
The Hawks return to action this Saturday at Villanova at 2 p.m.