PHILADELPHIA - The reigning Atlantic 10 champion Saint Joseph's women's basketball team received their rings and raised a championship banner to the rafters, then picked up where last season left off as SJU downed Mount St. Mary's, 85-57, in the First Round of the Preseason WNIT on Friday evening at Hagan Arena.
The Hawks, who opened 1-0 for the 28th time in 41 seasons, will travel to #15 LSU for a Sunday matchup with the Tigers in the Quarterfinals at 3 p.m. ET.
Backed by a career-high 17 points from sophomore forward Sarah Fairbanks and 15 points from senior Erin Shields, Saint Joseph's took control from the start as it ran out to a 17-1 lead. The Hawks hit 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from the foul line, while holding the Mountaineers to 0-of-5 from the floor and caused four tunrovers.
Shooting 55.6 percent (15-of-27) in the opening half, Saint Joseph's would allow Mount St. Mary's to get no closer in the half than 12 points, while expanding their lead to as many as 27 before taking a 51-28 lead into halftime.
The Hawks continued to hold Mount St. Mary's at a distance in the second half opening their lead to as many as 30 as they outscored the Mountaineers 34-29 in the final period for the 85-57 victory.
For the game, SJU shot 50.9 percent (27-of-53) overall, 35.7 percent from three-point range (5-of-14) and 83.9 percent from the foul line (26-of-31). The Hawks finished with a 39-25 edge in rebounding and caused 17 turnovers, while turning the ball 12 times.
Individually, Fairbanks added five rebounds to go with two assists, two blocked shots and two steals, while junior Natasha Cloud scored nine points and had a game-high five assists.
At the other end, Sydney Henderson scored a game-high 21 points despite MSM shooting 36 percent from the floor (18-of-50).
GAME NOTES: Senior Kelsey Berger added 12 points and five rebounds in a starting effort...Sophomore Ciara Andrews tallied a career-high 10 points to go with two assists and two steals...Freshman Jessica Pongonis added 10 points in her debut, with classmate Geena Gomez adding five points...Rookie Lisanne de Jonge scored three points and had four rebounds...Senior Ilze Gotfrida scored four points and had two assists and two rebounds...Freshman Kathleen Fitzpatrick had two rebounds and two assists.