After a rough 0-2 start on the road, the Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball team finally got its chance to open up the Michael J. Hagan, ’85 Arena with a bang. With a notably smaller but nevertheless spirited crowd than the men’s opener, the Hawks tipped off their first game in the new arena with their first win of the season over University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 77-55.
The Hawks got off to a slow start, and an 8-1 run by UMBC to open the game left the Hawks in need of an early rally. The Hawks fought their way back into the game, keeping it within reach until they were able to take the lead with 13:02 left in the first half thanks to a Sportscenter Top-10-worthy layup by Mariame Djouara, ’10. Rebounds by both Djouara and Ashley Logue, ’10, combined with ball-handling miscues by the Retrievers, helped the Hawks maintain a lead that got as large as seven points. Sloppy play near the end of the half, however, allowed UMBC to inch back into the game and cut the Hawks’ advantage to just three, 34-31, at the half.
The second half saw the Hawks begin to turn up the offensive effort. Logue and Djouara provided a solid foundation with their efforts on the boards. Three-pointers by Amy Gillespie, ’10, and Shelby Smith, ’13, combined with a stronger presence by Brittany Ford, ’10 allowed the Hawks to build up a 24-point lead with 6:24 remaining.
Despite UMBC’s best efforts, the Hawks’ offense ran on all cylinders today. Logue finished with her first double-double of the year with 15 points and 16 rebounds, while Djouara finished with a team-high 18 points. Head coach Cindy Griffin believes, however, that this effort by the Hawks is only a stepping-stone towards success.
“It’s something we can build on,” said Griffin. “We’re not quite where we need to be shooting the ball yet, but it’s definetly a step to build on.”
The Hawks had two major keys to success today: taking advantage of UMBC’s mistakes and keeping the Retriever’s lead scorer, Michelle Kurowski, quiet. Kurowski entered the game averaging 21.4 points per game, but was held to just 11 today.
On top of that, the Hawks overall seemed filled with energy in their first home game of the season. Whether it was the excitement of their home-opener or the need for a win after starting 0-2, the Hawks had energy that UMBC simply could not match. After the game, Logue commented on how much the crowd played a deciding factor.
“Our student section was great, everyone supported us,” said Logue, “there were a lot of people and a lot of support, I mean, that’s the most support I’ve seen since I’ve been here, so I want to give it up to them.”
-Tom Hagan, ’11