PHILADELPHIA - Leading wire-to-wire, the Saint Joseph's women's basketball team earned a share of the Philadelphia Big 5 title on Wednesday as the Hawks topped La Salle, 70-64, at Hagan Arena. Bolstered by a 22-point, 10-rebound performance from junior Sarah Fairbanks, Saint Joseph's finished the year with a 3-1 mark in the Big 5 to earn a share of the title with Penn and Villanova.

Up by as many as 13 in the second half, Saint Joseph's (8-13, 4-5 Atlantic 10) saw its lead cut to three, 53-50, on a three-pointer by the Explorer's Micahya Owens with 7:50 to play.

The Hawks responded as senior Natasha Cloud scored four-straight points, while Fairbanks rattled home a jumper from the top of the lane with the shot clock expiring to push the lead to 59-50 at 4:03.

La Salle (11-11, 2-7 A-10) fought back, cutting the deficit to six on several occasions, but Saint Joseph's closed out the game from the foul line, hitting 6-of-6 free throws in the final minute.

In the first half, the Hawks jumped out to an early eight-point lead as they held La Salle to just 1-of-13 from the floor to start.

The Explorers cut Saint Joseph's lead to 19-16 with under seven minutes to go in the half, however a combined seven points from Fairbanks and graduate student Ashley Robinson pushed the Hawks' lead to 26-16. Saint Joseph's would hold La Salle at a distance from there until the final minutes of the game.

Wednesday's win marks the 17th Big 5 title for the Hawks and second consecutive year they have earned the crown after going 4-0 in City Series play last season.

For the game, Saint Joseph's hit 21-of-54 from the floor (38.9 percent), 1-of-6 from three-point range (16.7 percent) and 27-of-31 from the foul line (87.1 percent). Individually, Cloud also posted a double-double for the Hawks, finishing with a game-high 10 assists to go with 13 points, while Robinson added 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Junior Ciara Andrews was the fourth SJU player in double figures, finishing with 14 points and four rebounds.

At the other end, La Salle was held to just 34.3 percent shooting (23-of-67), but hit 6-of-14 from three-point range (42.9 percent) and 12-of-17 from the foul line (70.6 percent). Alicia Cropper paced the Explorers with a game-high 25 points and added eight rebounds.

The Hawks return to action Sunday when they host Fordham at 2 p.m.

Game Notes: The Hawks finished with a 41-39 edge in rebounds...Sophomore Kathleen Fitzpatrick added five points and three rebounds...Freshman Chelsea Woods scored four points and had four rebounds...Classmate Adashia Franklen added three rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist...Wednesday is the first of two meetings this season with La Salle...The two squads play again March 1 at La Salle.

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