PHILADELPHIA - Battling until the final seconds, the Saint Joseph's women's basketball team exhibited "The Hawk Will Never Die" motto but eventually fell to Virginia in the final minutes in the First Round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, 62-56, on Friday at Hagan Arena.
In a game that featured six ties and eight lead changes, the Hawks (17-15) fought back from an 11-point third quarter deficit to take a 47-45 advantage on a jumper in the lane by junior Chelsea Woods with 7:55 to play.
Virginia (20-12) answered back, but sophomore Kristalyn Baisden followed with a corner three-pointer to put Saint Joseph's back in the lead, 50-47.
The lead changed hands back to the Cavaliers, while the Hawks got key free throws to tie the game at 53 with 1:21 to play.
Jocelyn Willoughby put Virginia ahead 55-53 with a layup at 1:08, and following a turnover by the Hawks, extended it to 58-53 on a three-point play with 22 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Saint Joseph's sophomore Sarah Veilleux was fouled on a three-point shot and knocked down all three free throws to bring her team to within 58-56.
The Cavaliers would seal it from the foul line in the final 17 seconds with a pair of free throws by J'Kyra Brown.
In the first half, the Hawks fell behind 6-0 to open the game, but rallied with 10-straight points to take a 10-6 lead on a Veilleux three-pointer.
The score would remain close as SJU tied it at 25 -25 on a jumper by junior Adashia Franklyn with 56 seconds to go in the second quarter.
From there, Virginia went on a 15-4 run to take a 40-29 lead on a jumper by Breyana Mason at 4:51 of the third.
A layup by Woods would help jump start the Hawks' comeback, leading to the thrilling final minutes.
For the game, Saint Joseph's shot 38.2 percent from the field (21-of-55), 35.3 percent from three-point range (6-of-17) and 8-of-10 from the foul line.
Individually, Veilleux had a team-high 17 points to go with seven rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. Woods posted 12 points to go with nine rebounds and two assists, with Franklyn finishing with nine points and five rebounds.
Playing in their final game in a Hawk uniform, senior Mackenzie Rule and Amanda Fioravanti added six points apiece, while classmate Jaryn Garner had a game-high four assists to go with two points, five rebounds and two steals.
At the other end, Virginia shot 42.3 percent from the floor (22-of-52), 42.9 percent from behind the arc (3-of-7) and 68.2 percent from the foul line (15-of-22). Willoughby led three Cavaliers in double figures with a game-high 25 points.
Making their 10th WNIT appearance, the Hawks battled back from a 3-11 record to start the season to finish third in the Atlantic 10 (12-4), earn the program's 27th postseason appearance.
Game Notes: SJU is now 7-10 all-time in the Postseason WNIT...Baisden finished with six points...Sophomore Michala Clya played a minute...The Hawks got 18 points from its bench and finished with a 36-32 edge in rebounds.