Women’s Hoop Battles Nationally Ranked Monks in GNAC Opener

Women’s Hoop Battles Nationally Ranked Monks in GNAC Opener

WESTON, Mass. – Regis College proved it could play with one of the top teams in the country, but nationally-ranked Saint Joseph's College used a significant scoring run in the second quarter to establish a lead and then held on for a 77-65 victory Tuesday night in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference women's basketball game at Higgins Court.

Katryna Veasey (Quincy, Mass.) shot 9-of-13 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line to lead all players with a career-high 23 points, plus she pulled down seven rebounds. Nikki Bitinaitis (Cromwell, Conn.) hit three three-pointers as she finished with a season-high 14 points along with six assists, Valerie Martin (Derry, N.H.) contributed nine points, eight rebounds, and six assists, and Arie Searcy (Santa Rosa, Calif.), making the first start of her collegiate career, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked two shots for the Pride.

Regis raced out to a 10-5 lead on back-to-back three-pointers by Bitinaitis and Martin, but the Monks put together an 11-3 scoring run, capped by a three-pointer from Grace Philippon, to pull ahead, 16-13. The Pride would score nine straight points in the final two minutes of the period, including two layups by Sam D'Angelo (Woburn, Mass.) as well as one from Taylor Iorfino (Monroe, Conn.) to take a 22-16 lead into the second quarter.

A traditional three-point play by Bitinaitis at the start of the second quarter gave Regis its biggest lead of the night at 25-16, but Saint Joseph's College responded with 14 unanswered points, starting with two three-point plays from Julia Champagne and featuring three-pointers from Kelsi McNamara and Julia Quinn, to establish a 33-27 advantage late in the first half.

Saint Joseph's (13-0, 1-0 GNAC), ranked 10th in this week's D3Hoops.com poll and 14th in the latest WBCA Coaches' Poll, scored the final four points of the second quarter to take a 42-32 lead into halftime. After Regis tallied the first four points of the third quarter, the Monks scored eight unanswered points to earn their biggest lead of the game at 50-36 midway through the period.

The Pride battled back with a 9-2 scoring run over the next three minutes to close their deficit to 52-45, but a three-pointer by Jordan Jabar helped the Monks increase their lead back into double digits at 57-47 after three quarters.

Down 62-50 one minute into the fourth quarter after a three-pointer by Philippon, Regis rattled off seven straight points over the next minute-and-a-half, including a three-pointer by Maura Russell (Braintree, Mass.), to close to within five at 62-57. After two baskets by the Monks, the Pride again cut their deficit to five at 66-61 with 2:13 left in regulation thanks to a desperation three-pointer by D'Angelo with the shot clock running out.

Saint Joseph's was able to put the game away by going 11-for-12 from the free throw line in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. Regis was unable to stay close to the Monks thanks to two missed field goal attempts and two turnovers down the stretch.

Four Saint Joseph's players reached double figures in scoring, led by Champagne with 18 points as she played all 40 minutes of the game. Despite a tough shooting night, McNamara notched a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists, Philippon also scored 13 points, and Jabar contributed 10 points in the winning effort.

As a team, Saint Joseph's shot just 36.6 percent (26-of-71) from the field, including 9-of-33 from behind the three-point line. Although the Monks lost the overall rebounding battle, 41-39, they did collect 13 offensive rebounds, led by Emily Benway with seven offensive boards as part of her 13-rebound night, that led to eight second chance points, while they held Regis to just one second chance point on seven offensive rebounds.

The Pride shot 41.8 percent (23-of-55) from the field, including 6-of-16 from behind the three-point line, and 68.4 percent (13-of-19) from the free throw line. Regis committed 17 turnovers, leading to 20 points by the Monks, while Saint Joseph's College took care of the ball, finishing with only eight turnovers.

Regis (4-9, 0-1 GNAC) heads to Boston to face Emmanuel Thursday, Jan. 10, starting at 7 p.m. The Pride return to Higgins Court Saturday, Jan. 12, for a conference matchup against Norwich beginning at 1 p.m.