The St. Joseph’s women’s basketball season survives another day as the Hawks upset Rhode Island, 51-48, in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament at the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Del.

The Hawks were outscored in every quarter except the third.

“We showed a lot of resolve, a lot of resilience,” said head coach Cindy Griffin. “[Our kids] responded at halftime and did an unbelievable job.”

After missing every three-pointer in the first half, seventh-seeded St. Joe’s knocked down four in the third quarter, outscoring the second-seeded Rams, 20-8. In the fourth quarter, Rhode Island clawed back, but clutch free throws and staunch defense gave Hawks the victory.

Freshman Laila Fair led St. Joe’s (13-16) with 17 points, and freshman Talya Brugler scored 10.

“[Laila and my] connection that we had been growing this whole season has been showing for us, especially today with the high-low matchups that we could find; we took advantage of them,” said Brugler.

Emmanuelle Tahane led Rhode Island (22-6) with 13 points.

One-two punch, yet again

After making just three of nine field goals to open the game, St. Joe’s settled in and found its offensive rhythm behind Fair and Brugler – the same duo that scored 40 combined points Thursday in a 65-49 win over Duquesne.

Fair scored eight of the Hawks’ 15 first-quarter points Friday, including back-to-back layups. Brugler had two early buckets, also layups.

With the score knotted at 15 after the first ten minutes, Rhode Island opened the second quarter on a 5-0 run after consecutive St. Joe’s turnovers.

St. Joe’s trailed, 25-21, at halftime.

Lid on the bucket

In déjà vu fashion from Thursday, the Hawks missed its first seven three-point attempts again Friday.

Thankfully for St. Joe’s, Rhode Island wasn’t scoring from deep, either. The Rams only made two three-pointers in the first half.

“We challenged the guards [at half] because the post players had been carrying us in the first half,” said Griffin. “We changed a little bit of our offense.”

New half, new luck

Julia Nyström knocked down St. Joe’s first three-pointer with 9 minutes, 48 seconds to play in the third quarter, the opening bucket of the second half. Brugler and Fair followed with back-to-back layups in a 7-0.

The surge put the Hawks ahead, 28-25.

But the second-half, three-point barrage was only the beginning. Mackenzie Smith nailed one and Nystrom swished two more. The Hawks’ offense flipped completely from the first half and the Hawks led, 37-31.

Olivia Mullins hit a buzzer-beating jumper to end the third quarter, extending the St. Joe’s lead to eight points.

“Our motto for this week is that we bend but don’t break,” said Brugler. “We were bending a bit at the start of the fourth quarter, but we knew we had to come out strong and finish what we started.”

Lead (almost) evaporated

Rhode Island opened the fourth quarter on 9-3 run, nearly erasing the St. Joe’s lead.

With two minutes remaining, the Hawks held a 48-44 advantage. Rhode Island then hit two free throws, and St. Joe’s couldn’t score on the ensuing possession.

But a missed Rhode Island jumper and a St. Joe’s defensive rebound with 25 seconds left forced the Rams to foul. Guard Katie Jekot hit two free throws to increase the lead to four points with 19.7 seconds to play.

Rhode Island hit a layup, and Jekot made one free throw to push the lead to three. The Rams couldn’t get a shot off as the clock expired.

The win was Griffin’s 350th coaching victory at St. Joe’s.

The Hawks are the lowest seed remaining in the conference tournament and will play the Fordham-Massachusetts winner in the semifinals Saturday at 1:30 p.m.