STANDISH, ME – Bridgewater State (5-2) senior forward Shelly DePina (New Bedford, Mass.) made a layup with three seconds remaining to lift the visiting Bears to a 57-56 victory over Saint Joseph's (4-4) in a non-conference women's basketball contest at the Harold Alfond Center on Wednesday night.
The Monks held the lead for the vast majority of play as DePina's bucket, scored on a nice double move in the paint, provided the visitors with their first lead since the 13:45 mark of the first half.
SJC senior guard Megan McDevitt (Cumberland, Maine) scored a game-high 19 points and made three of four attempts from downtown in the losing effort. Lindsay Moore '14 (Barrington, N.H.) tallied 11 points and six rebounds in her first collegiate start and Ashley Geel '12 (St. George, Maine) notched 10 points and six boards for Saint Joseph's.
Bridgewater State sophomore guard Jenna Williamson (Ludlow, Mass.) paced the Bears with 14 points, despite going 0-7 from three-point distance, and Michaela Cosby '13 (Walpole, Mass.) registered 12 points, six caroms and five assists on the night.
Saint Joseph's came out of the gates strong and held an 8-2 lead after McDevitt hit a mid-range jumper three minutes into play. Bridgewater, an NCAA Tournament qualifier in two of the last four seasons, fought back with eight unanswered points and held a 10-8 edge just 3:15 later. Williamson scored six points during the BSU surge.
The Monks proceeded to net five straight points as part of an 11-2 run that buoyed the hosts to a lead that would stand until the closing seconds of the contest. Geel closed out the SJC run with a layup to lift the Royal Blue to a 19-12 lead with 9:12 remaining in the first half.
The Bears kept the game close and trailed by five, 22-17, when Cosby scored a layup at the 6:01 mark, but junior guard Danyelle Shufelt (Sutton, Vt.) netted seven consecutive points for the Monks to help the hosts carry a 31-21 cushion into intermission.
McDevitt and Shufelt led all first half scorers with nine points each, while Williamson led the Bears with six points over the opening 20 minutes.
St. Joe's shot 41.9% from the field, 28.6% from downtown and 60% from the free throw line in the first half, while Bridgewater State shot 34.5% overall and 14.3% from three-point range and missed both FT attempts in the opening frame.
Cosby and Monica Bharoocha '12 (North Smithfield, R.I.) cut the Bears' deficit to 31-25 with a bucket apiece in the first two minutes of the second stanza and the visitors maintained the six-point debit when DePina was fouled on a fast break and drained both freebies to make it a 33-27 game with 16:43 remaining.
But Saint Joseph's looked to be on the verge of putting the game away as the Royal Blue posted an 8-2 outbreak in the following minute. McDevitt scored all eight of the SJC points as the senior sharpshooter hit a pair of trifectas and tapped in a layup lift her team to its largest lead of the night – 12 points - with 15:43 left.
Not about to go down easily, Bridgewater State mustered seven straight points as a Bharoocha jumper capped the run and cut the SJC advantage down to 41-36 with 13:10 on the clock. Moore went on to provide the Royal Blue with some much-needed breathing room when she converted a traditional three-point play and scored on a fast break in a matter of 19 seconds to extend the SJC lead to 46-36 with 12:09 to go
An Alyssa Grigware '13 (Biddeford, Maine) layup at the 8:58 mark gave the hosts a 12-point lead, 52-40, yet again, but St. Joe's was unable to pull away as the visitors answered with six straight points over the following three minutes. McDevitt made a pair of free throws with 5:34 remaining to make it a 54-46 game, but the Bears managed to outscore the Monks by an 11-2 margin in the closing minutes to steal the victory. Cosby and Williamson combined to score nine of the BSU points before DePina hit the game-winning shot off the right block.
Overall, Saint Joseph's shot 41.1% (23-56) from the field, 25% (4-16) from three-point distance, and 66.7% (6-9) from the FT line. Bridgewater State shot 38.7% (24-62) from the floor, 18.8% (3-16) from beyond the arc, and 60% (6-10) from the charity stripe.
St. Joe's held slim edges in rebounds (37-36), points in the paint (26-24), and second-chance points (7-5) in the loss. Thanks in large part to a blanketing full-court press, Bridgewater won the turnover battle (15-20) and held a 17-13 advantage in points scored off turnovers.
The Bears had never defeated the Monks before tonight's meeting, as Saint Joseph's falls to 7-1 in the history of the series with Bridgewater State with the result.
Despite the bitter result, St. Joe's can take some stock in that the team held a high-octane Bears offense to its lowest point total of the season. BSU entered this evening's action averaging 80.8 points per contest and scored less than 60 points just twice all last season.
Both teams are slated to face tough New England region opponents on Saturday, when Saint Joseph's hosts University of New England in a 1:00 PM tip and Bridgewater State travels to Tufts University for a 4:00 PM start.