STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (26-0, 12-0 GNAC) will host #4 Suffolk University (19-7, 9-3 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament Semifinal on Thursday at 5:00 PM.
The semifinal contest between the Monks and Rams is a rematch of the 2018 GNAC Championship game, which was won by Saint Joseph's – 73-59 – at the Harold Alfond Center on February 24th.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Saint Joseph's, ranked eighth and 10th nationally in this week's D3Hoops.com and WBCA national polls, respectively, cruised past eighth-seeded Johnson & Wales University, 99-75, in a quarterfinal contest on Tuesday evening. Leading 22-14 after the first quarter, the Monks effectively put the game out of reach with a dominant second stanza, as the hosts shot 70.6% (12-17) en route to winning the frame by a 37-16 margin and owning a 59-30 lead at the break.
Senior guard Kelsi McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) scored 29 points with seven assists and five rebounds and was 5-for-7 from three-point distance and senior guard Julia Champagne (Brunswick, Maine) was 4-for-6 from downtown with 22 points in the triumph.
Suffolk worked past fifth-seeded Anna Maria College, 68-58, in other quarterfinal action on Tuesday. The led by as many as 16 points but the AMCATS made things interesting down the stretch, as a 24-9 run knotted the tourney tilt at 57-57 with three minutes remaining. Suffolk countered with an 11-1 surge, which included a 6-for-6 free-throw shooting performance, in the closing minutes to clinch the victory.
Senior guard Marissa Gudauskas (Bolton, Conn.) netted 20 points and sophomore guard Jenni-Rose DiCecco (Falmouth, Mass.) added 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in the Suffolk win.
Thursday's winner advances to the GNAC Championship and will face the winner of another semifinal matchup - #3 Albertus Magnus College/#2 Emmanuel College– with the highest remaining seed serving as the host - on Saturday.
The winner of the GNAC Championship game earns an automatic berth into the 2019 NCAA DIII Women's Basketball Championship, which begins on March 1st.
Tuesday, February 19 - Quarterfinals
Game 1: #1 Saint Joseph's 99, #8 JWU 75
Game 2: #4 Suffolk 68, #5 Anna Maria 58
Game 3: #3 Albertus Magnus 82, #6 Regis 74
Game 4: #2 Emmanuel 61, #7 Colby-Sawyer 39
Thursday, February 21 - Semifinals
Game 5: #4 Suffolk at #1 Saint Joseph's – 5:00 PM
Game 6: #3 Albertus Magnus at #2 Emmanuel – 7:00 PM
Saturday, February 23 - Championship
Game 7: at highest remaining seed
SEASON AT A GLANCE
- The Monks' perfect regular season is the first in program and GNAC women's basketball history; Saint Joseph's is one of just three teams in the nation to have not yet suffered a loss
- St. Joe's has won 50-consecutive home games and carries a 37-game winning streak versus GNAC opponents into the semifinal matchup
- Four of the Monks' five starters are averaging at least 11.0 PPG
- Saint Joseph's leads the conference in three-pointers made per game (9.5), three-pointers attempted per game (26.1), three-point FG% (36.5%), fewest turnovers per game (12.3), fewest points per game allowed (56.8), and opponents' three-point FG% (27.3%)
- The Rams are 15-0 this winter when scoring over 65 points and 11-2 when shooting at least 40% from the field
- Suffolk is 6-4 on the road this season
- Six different Suffolk players are averaging at least 6.4 PPG with two contributing north of 11.0 PPG
- The Rams rank second in the GNAC in three-pointers made per game (6.8), fewest turnovers per game (15.2) and blocks per game (4.8) and third in three-point percentage (32.2%), fewest personal fouls per game (15.1) and fewest points per game allowed (59.9)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- (#10) Senior guard Kelsi McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) is averaging 21.2 points, 7.0 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game and ranks as the GNAC leader in three-pointers made (76), free-throw percentage (88.6%), assists (182), and assist/turnover ratio (2.8); she also became the GNAC's all-time leader in three-pointers made (310) and assists (603) – as well as the Monks' career points leader - this season
- (#41) Senior forward Emily Benway (Rochester, N.H.) is averaging 12.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game and leads the GNAC in field goal percentage (57.3%) ranks third in offensive rebounds (111) and sixth in rebounding average
- (#14) Senior guard Julia Champagne (Brunswick, Maine), the reigning GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 13.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game and currently ranks fourth in the conference in three-point shooting percentage (38.3%) and seventh in three-pointers made (51)
- (#22) Senior guard Hannah Marks (Waldoboro, Maine) contributes 11.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per contest and ranks second in the conference in three-point percentage (40.3%, 60-149), third in three-pointers made (60) and ninth in assist/turnover ratio (1.6)
- (#11) Sophomore guard Jenni-Rose DiCecco (Falmouth, Mass.) enters Thursday's game averaging 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game and ranks first in the conference in minutes per game (38.9), fifth in assists (117) and steals (66), and seventh in scoring average and free throws made (87)
- (#20) Senior guard Marissa Gudauskas (Bolton, Conn.) is averaging 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game and is ranked third in the GNAC in three-point percentage (38.8%, 47-121)
- (#10) Sophomore forward Jordan Hipwell (Ballston Spa, N.Y.) contributes 8.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and ranks 13th in the conference in field goal percentage (45.1%, 79-175)
ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:
Saint Joseph's: Mike McDevitt '83 (554-193, .742) - 27th collegiate season
Among the most successful coaches in all of NCAA DIII Women's Basketball, McDevitt ranks 17th among active coaches in victories and 24th in winning percentage. Only three coaches in New England have more wins and four (10+ years) have a higher win rate.
During his tenure at Saint Joseph's, Coach McDevitt has guided the Monks to at least 20 wins in 18 different seasons, the sixth-highest total in the history of NCAA DIII Women's Basketball, with 18 championships. During his career, McDevitt has garnered 13 'Coach of the Year' accolades, including GNAC, Maine Women's Basketball Coaches Association (MWBCA), and New England Women's Basketball Association (NEWBA) honors last season.
Suffolk: Ed Leyden (414-275, .601) – 26th collegiate season
Leyden has built the Rams' program into one of the most consistent and recognized programs in the New England region. He has been named as the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Coach of the Year on five occasions, most recently in 2012-13. During that season, Leyden's team set the Suffolk University mark for most wins by a basketball team with 21.
THE LAST TIME WE MET:
These two teams last faced off on January 26th, when the Monks rallied from a first-half deficit to defeat the Rams, 77-63, at the Harold Alfond Center.
The Rams held a 32-30 lead after sophomore guard Gabriella DeComo (Portsmouth, R.I.) made a layup with 4:25 left in the second quarter before the Monks rattled off 11 unanswered points to claim a 41-32 cushion four minutes later. DiCecco cut her team's shortfall down to six points (41-35) when she hit a three-pointer with four seconds before the break.
The SJC advantage fell to 41-38 after the Rams hit another three on their first possession of the third frame, but the Monks essentially put the game away with a 21-6 run, which was capped by Benway fast-break layup and the hosts on top by a contest-high 18 points (62-44) with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Benway made 9-of-10 shots from the floor with 20 points and nine boards while Champagne added 20 points in the victory.
Gudauskas paced the Rams with 19 points while DiCecco narrowly missed a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists in the setback.
Saint Joseph's is 14-7 all-time versus Suffolk University with seven-consecutive victories versus the Rams.
GNAC TOURNAMENT HISTORY:
The Monks have appeared in the GNAC Tournament in 11 of 12 seasons as a member of the conference and claimed the program's first GNAC Championship in 2014, when the Royal Blue defeated Norwich University, 63-47, in the title game at the Alfond Center on March 1st, 2014.
As the top seed in the 2016 conference tournament, Saint Joseph's defeated perennial powerhouse Emmanuel College, 66-62, in the GNAC Championship and the Monks claimed their second-consecutive title with an overtime 81-70 win over the Saints in the 2017 GNAC Championship. St. Joe's made it three in a row with a 73-59 victory over Suffolk University in the 2018 GNAC Championship.
The Monks are 16-0 at home – and 17-6 overall - in GNAC postseason play since joining the conference in 2007.
Suffolk has appeared in the GNAC Tournament in each of the last 24 seasons and the Rams, in search of their first GNAC crown, will be making their 11th appearance in the semifinal round on Thursday.
The Monks are 1-2 versus the Rams in GNAC Tournament play with both setbacks taking place in Boston.