STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (21-5) defeated #8 Rivier University (9-17), 72-62, in a 2016 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament Quarterfinal at the Harold Alfond Center on Tuesday evening.
The game's first 75 seconds set the tone for what turned out to be a very entertaining contest, as the conference counterparts both hit their first five shots and the Raiders, who connected for a trio of three pointers during this span, held a 13-11 edge with 8:45 remaining in the first quarter.
Neither team managed to claim control before the break in a match-up that featured 16 lead changes and six tie scores in the first 20 minutes of play. With the aid of a 7-2 run in the final minutes of the second quarter, the Monks clung to a 37-35 advantage heading into intermission.
Saint Joseph's opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run and owned a 44-35 lead after senior center Morgan Cahill (Yarmouth, Maine) netted a layup with seven minutes left in the stanza. The Raiders made just two field goals in 11 bids in the third frame, but remained in contention by making six of eight shots from the free throw line. The visitors did not face a double-digit deficit until sophomore guard Emily Quirion (Augusta, Maine) drained a pair from the stripe to put her team up 55-45 through three periods.
Rivier, which utilized a rotation of primarily seven different players, eventually ran out of steam, as the Monks – who featured 10 players with eight or more minutes of playing time - extended their lead to a game-high 13 points (61-48) when Cahill hit a jumper at the 6:26 mark of the fourth quarter. The Royal Blue proceeded to lead by at least seven points for the remainder of the tourney tilt.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's advances to the semifinal round of the GNAC Tournament and will host #4 Suffolk University at 7:00 PM on Thursday evening. The Rams defeated #5 Norwich University, 55-51, in other quarterfinal action tonight to remain alive in the conference tourney.
No upsets occurred in the first round of this year's GNAC Tournament, as #2 Johnson & Wales University defeated #7 Lasell College, 76-57, and #3 Emmanuel College topped #6 Albertus Magnus College, 73-63, this evening. Emmanuel and Johnson & Wales will face off in the other conference semifinal in Providence on Thursday night.
The loss signals the end of the 2015-16 season for Rivier and marks the third time in the last five seasons that the Monks have defeated the Raiders in the postseason.
LEADERS – SAINT JOSEPH'S
- Despite early foul trouble, Cahill led the Monks with 18 points and added four rebounds and three blocked shots in 24 minutes
- Freshman forward Emily Benway (Rochester, N.H.) registered an impressive double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds – a game-high
- Freshman guard Kelsi McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) tallied seven points, five assists, three rebounds, and two steals
- Junior guard Abbie Eastman (Norway, Maine) was 2-3 from downtown with six points and three boards
LEADERS – RIVIER
- Junior guard Caitlyn Perry (Nashua, N.H.) netted a game-high 22 points
- Junior forward Savanna Butterfield (Londonderry, N.H.) contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, and four assists
- Junior guard Caitlin Bulger (Quincy, Mass.) chipped in with eight points, four caroms, seven assists, and three steals
- Junior forward Rebecca DeBaldo (Pelham, N.H.) added nine points
- Freshman guard Kaylee Kacavas (Dracut, Mass.) scored eight points with four boards and four assists
Saint Joseph's shot 49.1% (27-55) from the floor, 44.4% (4-9) from three-point distance, and 56% (14-25) from the free throw line while Rivier notched efforts of 33.3% (21-63), 28.6% (4-14), and 72.7% (16-22) from the field, downtown, and the charity stripe, respectively.
The Monks held advantages in rebounding (39-33), blocked shots (6-2), points in the paint (32-14), second-chance points (10-8), and bench points (20-2) in the tourney victory.
Cahill surpassed the 1,600-point plateau tonight and now has 1,606 career points over 107 contests.
With the win, Saint Joseph's improves to 11-4 all-time versus Rivier University and has now defeated the Raiders in five consecutive meetings dating back to the 2013-14 campaign.
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.