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Saint Joseph's Women's Basketball Holds Off Villanova, 46-43, in Big 5 Clash

Saint Joseph's Women's Basketball Holds Off Villanova, 46-43, in Big 5 Clash PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball team earned its second-straight Big 5 victory as the Hawks held on for a 46-43 win over Villanova Sunday afternoon at Hagan Arena. Despite shooting just 20 percent from the field in the first half, the Hawks hit 56 percent of its shots in the second stanza to improve to 6-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big 5. Leading 42-31 with less then five minutes to go, Saint Joseph’s saw its lead cut to one, 44-43, with 28 seconds to go. The Hawks went just 1-of-6 from the floor and 0-of-2 from the foul line over the four-minute span as the Wildcats used a 12-2 run to make it a one-point game on a layup by Devon Kane. Following a timeout, Saint Joseph’s killed nearly 20 seconds as it kept the ball away from Villanova and avoided a foul. With second ticking away, the Hawks found junior forward/center Samira Van Grinsven wide open under the left block for a layup with 8.3 seconds to go to put SJU up 46-43. Villanova had a chance to tie at the end, but a contested three pointer by Laura Sweeney hit the rim and ricocheted away from the hoop as the buzzer sounded. In the first half, both teams struggled on offense. Villanova jumped out to a 7-0 advantage to start as the Hawks went 0-of-7 from the floor and turned the ball over four times before their first basket at 12:44. An 11-3 run by Saint Joseph’s put the hosts up 11-10 on a layup by junior guard Katie Kuester at 3:23. However, neither team could finish over the final few minutes as the Wildcats added a layup and took a 12-11 lead into the second half despite going just 5-of-21 from the field (23.8 percent). Saint Joseph’s took control of the game at the start of the second half, opening up a 28-19 lead by the 12:21 mark. The Hawks would build their lead to as many as 11 as junior Michelle Baker scored 10 of her team-high 15 points in the second half. As a team, the Hawks finished 19-of-50 from the floor (38 percent), 3-of-14 from behind the arc (21.4 percent) and 5-of-8 from the foul line. Kuester added 12 points, while Van Grinsven scored 10 points as the group with Baker combined for 37 of SJU’s points. Freshman Erin Shields added five points and finished with three assists, while freshman Ilze Gotfrida and junior Kelly Cavallo rounded out the scoring with two points apiece. Sweeney paced Villanova with 25 points and nine rebounds as the Wildcats shot just 30.2 percent from the floor (16-of-53), 17.9 percent from three-point range (5-of-28). The Hawks host Princeton next Sunday at 2 p.m.