STORRS, Conn. - St. Joseph's dodged adversity here all Saturday afternoon against Vanderbilt in an NCAA women's basketball tournament first-round game in the Bridgeport subregional at the University of Connecticut's Gampel Pavilion.
But the ninth-seeded Hawks fell to the eighth-seeded Commodores, 60-54, to finish an otherwise satisfying season at 23-9.
Vanderbilt (21-11) faces a daunting second-round game here Tuesday against top-seeded UConn (30-4), which demolished 16th-seeded Idaho 105-37 Saturday.
But after erasing a 10-point deficit in the second half and going virtually the entire first half without Chatilla van Grinsven, the Hawks' top scorer and rebounder who was quickly hit with two personal fouls, the Hawks were unable to get shots to drop down the stretch.
"The loss is definitely a hard pill to swallow," said sophomore guard Natasha Cloud, a graduate of Cardinal O'Hara. "Overall, we came out and won the A10 championship when no one thought we could. We're one of the few mid-level teams who can say they made it to the NCAA tournament. I'm proud of our seniors leading this year."
.Van Grinseven, one of two key seniors along with Ashley Prim among the four upper classwomen, had all 14 points and eight of her nine rebounds in the second half.
But Vanderbilt's Tiffany Clarke killed the Hawks on the inside with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Jasmine Lister had 14 points, including a driving layup for a 58-54 Lead with 40 seconds left.
"I thought we battled on every possession," St. Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin said after her first tournament game in 12 tries as a coach. The Hawks last appeared in 2000. "We were right there to the very end, but the shots just didn't fall today."