NASHUA, NH – Ashley Geel '12 (St. George, ME) scored a career-high 20 points and shot the game-winning free throw with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift Saint Joseph's (9-5, 1-1 GNAC) past Rivier College (4-11, 2-1 GNAC), 65-64, in a conference women's basketball contest on Saturday afternoon.
Free throws certainly proved to be a deciding factor in the closing seconds, but the final game stats show a significant discrepancy as well. Overall, the Monks shot a stellar 83.3% (15-18) from the charity stripe while the Raiders posted a paltry 50% (9-18) performance at the line.
The Monks held at least a share of the lead for the entire second half, but the Raiders managed to tie the contest with a Jackie Penniman '14 (Dudley, MA) freebie with 55 seconds remaining in the contest. St. Joe's turned the ball over on the following possession and, with a one-second difference between the game and shot clock, Rivier attempted to run the time down as far as possible before launching a shot.
The plan backfired, however, as a shot with two seconds remaining - taken by Raiders senior Steph Adams (Nashua, NH) - was off target and Geel was fouled while grabbing the defensive carom. As a result, Geel went to the charity stripe with 1.2 seconds left needing just one conversion to win the game.
After making her first attempt to give the Monks a one point advantage, Geel wisely missed the second bid to ensure that the hosts wouldn't have an opportunity to heave a last-second shot.
Geel posted a solid all-around effort for the Monks, as the 6'1" center grabbed a team-high eight caroms and rejected a pair of Rivier shots in the victory. With an 8-10 effort from the free throw line, she also set career highs for freebies made and attempted.
Abby Young '14 (North Yarmouth, ME) tallied nine points and four boards, Allie Parent '12 (Camden, ME) added eight points and seven rebounds and Casey Drake '11 (Lebanon, NH) chipped in with seven points and three assists in the SJC triumph.
For the Raiders, Amandra Purcell (Hudson, NH) netted 18 points and Penniman notched 14 points, nine caroms and four blocked shots. Britney Lane '14 (Waterford, VT) added 10 points in the losing effort.
The Raiders' largest lead of the game was two points as a Lane hit a jumper to put the hosts on top by a 10-8 margin with 13:18 left in the first half. The Monks held at least a share of the lead for the next eight minutes until Lane dropped a three pointer to lift her team to a 21-20 cushion with 5:32 remaining in the half.
With the help of five points from Danyelle Shufelt '13 (Sutton, VT), Saint Joseph's outscored Rivier by an 11-4 margin during the final five minutes of the opening stanza and carried a 32-24 lead into intermission.
In the first half, St. Joe's shot 42.9% from the field and 50% from three-point range and went 6-6 from the FT line. Rivier shot 32.3% overall, 11.1% from beyond the arc and 37.5% at the line. The Monks out-rebounded the Raiders, 26-14, in the first period.
Geel led all scorers with 10 first-half points and Lane paced the Raiders with seven points in the opening 20 minutes.
Lane opened the second stanza with a three to cut the Raiders' deficit to five points, but back to back buckets by Parent and Geel lifted the Monks to a game-high nine-point advantage, 36-27, with 18:50 to play.
St. Joe's led by eight points four minutes later, but Rivier went on a 7-1 run and trailed 43-41 after Purcell, who accounted for five points during the outbreak, drained a trifecta at the 12:39 mark.
The Monks responded in kind, however, and led 54-45 after Geel capped an 11-4 SJC run with 8:44 left in the second stanza.
A three pointer from Megan McDevitt '12 (Cumberland, ME) put the visitors up by seven, 59-52, with 4:50 left, but the Raiders decimated their deficit with buckets from Purcell and Adams and a Penniman trifecta to knot the game at 59-apiece nearly two minutes later.
Young came up clutch with a traditional three-point play to lift the Monks to a 62-59 cushion with 1:28 left, but Erin Sweeney '14 (Chicopee, MA) completed the same sequence 13 seconds later to make it a tie game once again.
Monks point guard Mackenzie Dufour '14 (Augusta, ME) connected on a pair of freebies with 1:15 on the clock to make it a two-point game. Pennimen had the chance to put her team ahead with two sets of free throw attempts in a matter of seconds, but made just one on each trip as the game stood tied once again, 64-64, with 55 seconds left.
Fortunately for the Royal Blue, a potentially-costly turnover ended up working in the Monks' favor. Geel coughed up the ball with 28 seconds left but, after the Raiders' plans for a last-second shot failed, turned into the game's hero with the winning free throw.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 41.1% (23-56) from the floor, 66.7% (4-6) from three-point distance, and 83.3% (15-18) from the FT line. Rivier shot 43.1% (25-58) from the field, 33.3% (5-15) from beyond the arc, and 50% (9-18) from the charity stripe.
The Monks and Raiders both grabbed 37 rebounds in the conference contest.
For St. Joe's, the win over Rivier is the team's first since joining the GNAC in 2007. The Raiders had defeated the Monks in all three meetings over the past three seasons.
Both teams will host conference foes on Monday afternoon, as St. Joe's is set to take on Johnson & Wales at 1:00 PM and Rivier will face Emmanuel at 3:00 PM.