Saint Joseph's Women's Basketball Earns 700th Win En Route to Hawk Classic Title
PHILADELPHIA – It was two victories in one for the Saint Joseph's women's basketball team as it earned both the 20th Annual Hawk Classic title and the program's 700th victory. The Hawks got a combined 39 points from Hawk Classic MVP Katie Kuester (Media, Pa./Academy of Notre Dame de Namur) and All-Tournament Team honoree Ilze Gotfirda (Dobele, Latvia/Rigas Secondary School No. 49) as they topped Lafayette, 75-40, Wednesday afternoon at Hagan Arena.
Saint Joseph's, which is just the 31st team in NCAA Division I history to hit the 700-win plateau, took control of the game early and never let up. Kuester went 4-of-4 from the floor, including a pair of three pointers, while Gotfrida scored 12 of her game-high 20 points in the first half as the Hawks took a 30-20 lead into halftime.
In the second half, little could halt the Hawks' offense, as they finished 18-of-29 from the floor (62.1 percent) and 7-of-14 from behind the arc in the final 20 minutes. Lafayette cut it to a 32-24 game less than two minutes in, but SJU's offense clicked from there, outscoring the Leopards 28-6 over the next 14 minutes. A three-pointer by sophomore Mireia Vila (Cabrera De Mar, Spain/Escola Pia Santa Anna) and back-to-back baskets by Gotfrida opened the Hawks' biggest lead, 70-32 with 4:31 left.
Kuester, who started 7-of-7 from the field and finished 7-of-9, scored a career-best 19 points to go with a team-high 14 points in Tuesday's win over New Hampshire to earn MVP honors. Playing a season-high 29 minutes, Gotfrida was an offensive force for SJU, scoring a career-high 20 points and adding five rebounds, three steals, an assist and a block. Vila was the third SJU player in double figures, scoring a career-best 11, while 8 of 10 Hawks scored a basket.
For Lafayette (6-7), All-Tournament Team selection LaKeisha Wright scored a team-high 14 points, while teammate and All-Tournament Team honoree Danielle Fiacco scored eight points and had seven rebounds. Fiacco set a Hawk Classic record on Tuesday with 12 blocked shots against Quinnipiac.
As a team, the Leopards shot just 30.4 percent from the field (14-of-46) and were held to 24 percent (6-of-25) in the second half.
In the consolation game, Quinnipiac topped New Hampshire, 62-61 on a free throw by Lailah Pratt with 2.4 seconds remaining. The Bobcats' Jacinda Dunbar and New Hampshire's Jill McDonald rounded out the All-Tournament Team.
With the win, Saint Joseph's improves to 10-3 on the year and 700-363 all-time. The Hawks will put their seven-game winning streak on the line Sunday against nationally-ranked Maryland at home at 2 p.m.