PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's head coach Cindy Griffin became the all-time leader in wins at Hawk Hill as her Hawks topped Villanova, 58-54, Sunday afternoon in a Big 5 battle at Hagan Arena. With the victory, Griffin improved to 249-171 in 14 seasons at SJU and surpassed the record for win previously set by Women's Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Foster (248-126).
Up by five with seven minutes to play, Saint Joseph's (3-5, 2-0 Big 5) saw its lead erased in under three minutes as the Wildcats used a 6-0 run to take a 49-48 advantage on a Caroline Coyer jumper with 4:48 to play.
After trading baskets, each team would go cold on offense as the Wildcats held a 51-50 lead for three minutes, but went 0-3 from the floor as they couldn't pull away.
The Hawks, who went 0-4 with a turnover during the same span, would regain the lead though as graduate student Ashley Robinson hit a pair of free throws to put her team up 52-51 at 1:00.
Villanova would miss the go-ahead basket in its next possession, and junior Ciara Andrews grabbed the defensive rebound and was fouled. Andrews would make both, pushing SJU's lead to 54-51.
Saint Joseph's defense would again come up big in its next opportunity as it forced a missed shot and Andrews again grabbed the rebound and hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to 56-51.
The Wildcats got a later three pointer to bring them within 56-54 with four seconds to go, but Andrews iced the game from the line with two free throws to help the Hawks improve to 2-0 in the Big 5 this season and claimed their ninth straight City Series win.
In the first half, Saint Joseph's opened an 26-15 lead on a Robinson layup with 4:44 to play, but Villanova answered with a 12-4 run to end the half and make it a 30-27 advantage for the Hawks heading into halftime.
The Hawks pushed their lead to five early in the second half, but the Wildcats continued to chip away leading to the tight final minutes.
For the game, Saint Joseph's hit 21-52 from the field (40.4 percent), 1-2 from three-point range and 15-19 from the foul line (78.9 percent). The Hawks finished with a 39-22 edge in rebounds, 16-5 advantage in second chance points and outscored the Wildcats 36-8 in the paint.
Individually, Andrews had 17 points for SJU and added six rebounds, while junior Sarah Fairbanks finished with 12 points. Senior Natasha Cloud had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Robinson chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds.
At the othe end, Villanova was 21-48 overall (43.8 percent), 8-23 from behind the arc (34.8 percent) and 4-8 from the foul line. Coyer was the lone Wildcat in double figures with 17 points.
Saint Joseph's returns to action Tuesday with a 5:30 p.m. tip at Big 5 rival Penn.