STANDISH, Maine – Saint Joseph's College (24-4, 15-1 GNAC) defeated Emmanuel College (20-8, 14-2 GNAC), 81-70 in overtime, in the 2017 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Women's Basketball Championship at the Harold Alfond Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Monks, the top seed in the GNAC North Division, claimed their second-consecutive conference title – and third in the last four years – with their second overtime win in as many games. The Saints, the first seed in the GNAC South Division, trailed down the stretch but managed to force an overtime period with a late fourth-quarter run.
The inspiring effort proved for naught however, as the Monks outscored the Saints – who posted a 2-10 shooting performance from the field during extra play - by a 16-5 margin in OT to claim the thrilling victory.
With the triumph, Saint Joseph's earns an automatic qualifier – awarded to the GNAC Champion - into the NCAA DIII Tournament, which begins Friday, site/opponent TBD. The entire national tournament bracket will be announced via live feed on NCAA.com on Monday at 2:30 PM.
For Head Coach Mike McDevitt '83, today's victory counted as the 500th of his illustrious career. Now in his 25th collegiate campaign, McDevitt owns a 500-190 (.725) career record (478-183, .723 in 24 years at SJC and 22-7 in one season at Southern Maine) and this afternoon's championship is his 11th conference title.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Saint Joseph's held the lead for the majority of the afternoon and maintained a 34-33 edge heading into intermission. The Monks extended the cushion to seven (40-33) with six unanswered points to start the third quarter, but the Saints responded with a 14-4 run as a Madison McLaughlin (Westerly, R.I.) three-pointer 5:32 into the third stanza provided the visitors with their first lead of the day. Senior guard Jen Chalk (Horseheads, N.Y.) hit a jumper just over a minute later to cap the run with Emmanuel ahead, 47-44.
The Monks, trailing 49-47 after three quarters, kicked off the fourth frame with an 8-0 surge, capped by an Emily Benway (Rochester, N.H.) layup to lift her team to a 55-49 advantage with 7:50 left in regulation. The hosts extended their lead to seven points (62-55) when junior forward Regan McFerran (Albany, N.Y.) nailed a three with 3:05 remaining, but the visitors tied the contest with a 10-3 run to force extra play.
With 53 seconds on the clock, junior guard Alisha Fox (National Park, N.J.) completed the late Emmanuel run - and tied the game - with a terrific individual effort when she dropped in an easy layup after pilfering the ball under the hoop on an SJC in-bounds play.
Chalk opened overtime with a layup off an Olivia Dalphonse (Buxton, Maine/McAuley) pass at the 4:38 mark, but the lead proved to be the Saints' last of the afternoon, as McFerran ignited a 10-0 run for the hosts with a layup 22 seconds later.
Senior guard Abbie Eastman (Norway, Maine) deserves mention for what may have been the play of the game: a rare four-point play with 3:14 remaining. Fouled while drilling a three-pointer in front of the SJC bench, the senior captain proceeded to make the freebie and lift her team to a 71-67 advantage.
Kelsi McNamara, Saint Joseph's – MVP
Emily Benway, Saint Joseph's
Julia Champagne, Saint Joseph's
Jen Chalk, Emmanuel
Alexis Ezell, Emmanuel
Kimberly Viafara, Johnson & Wales
Heather LeBlanc, Norwich
LEADERS – SAINT JOSEPH'S:
- McNamara led all players with 24 points and added five rebounds and five assists while logging 39 of 45 possible minutes
- Benway tallied 18 points and 10 boards while shooting 8-13 from the field
- McFerran enjoyed her finest game of her career with 16 points, 11 caroms, and three steals
- Eastman contributed 11 points and a pair of boards
- Champagne chipped in with five points, three rebounds, two assists, and a pair of steals
LEADERS – EMMANUEL:
- Chalk paced the Saints with 19 points and nine rebounds
- Ezell tallied 18 points and eight boards with an 8-8 free-throw shooting effort
- Fox came off the bench to net 15 points with three caroms, three assists, and four steals
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.