PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph's women's basketball team opens the 2019-20 season on the road at Columbia (0-1) this Thursday, November 7. Opening tip is set for 7:00 p.m. at Levien Gymnasium in New York, N.Y. and will be streamed nationally on ESPN+.
The Hawks return eight letterwinners from a year ago, including two starters in sophomore guard Katie Jekot and sophomore forward Katie Mayock, and add six newcomers to the mix. Head coach Cindy Griffin, now in her 19th season on Hawk Hill, has a young squad this year as 10 of her 14 players are among either the freshman or sophomore classes.
The Hawks and Lions played in their inaugural meeting on November 29 of last season, and SJU came out with the 68-61 win in overtime. Jekot recorded four of her 13 total points in OT, which included a big three-pointer with 3:22 remaining in the extra frame to open up the scoring for the Crimson and Gray.
10TH IN THE A-10 PRESEASON POLL
The Hawks were predicted to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10 this year, according to the 2019-20 A-10 Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll conducted by the league’s 14 head coaches and announced on October 29.
Junior guard Mary Sheehan has been selected team captain for the 2019-20 women’s basketball season. A business major out of Drexel Hill, Pa., Sheehan has emerged as a key role player for the Hawks over her first two seasons on Hawk Hill. As a sophomore last season, Sheehan appeared in 30 games, with two starts, and averaged 18.4 minutes and a 32.1 shooting percentage from three-point range.
“Mary will represent our team as team captain this year. She exemplifies what it means to be a great leader with her compelling work ethic, exceptional communication skills, and ability to relate to all people.” -Coach Griffin
Sophomore guard Katie Jekot will be the Hawks’ top scoring option this year as she is the returning leading scorer from last year’s squad. Jekot averaged 7.5 points per game in all 31 appearances with 25 starts in 2018-19 and is SJU’s returning leader in total steals (36) and three-pointers (42).
MAKING A POINT
Junior Lula Roig will embrace point guard responsibilities as the Hawks’ primary ball handler this season.
“Lula has really matured a lot since her freshman year. The level of which she needs to run the team from a point guard standpoint is very challenging because she speaks Spanish. So, from an English standpoint, she has gotten a lot better as far as communication. A lot of the responsibility of running an offense falls on her because she is the point guard. She wants that role and she’s embraced that role. Now it’s just a matter of executing that role.” -Coach Griffin
PAIR OF VETS
Graduate student guard Rachel Gartner and senior guard Nailah Delinois are SJU’s veterans on the squad this year. Gartner transferred in for the 2018-19 season after four years at Boston College while Delinois is the Hawks’ lone four-year member of the Crimson and Gray.
ALL OF THE LOVIN
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Marsicano goes strictly by ‘Lovin’ in place of her given name, ‘Elizabeth.'
MELIA LEADS IRELAND TO BRONZE
Freshman forward Claire Melia helped lead the Ireland U-20 National Team to a bronze medal in Division B at the 2019 FIBA U20 Women’s European Championships held in Prishtina, Kosovo in mid-August. Melia led the way for Ireland with 16.3 points per game, good for sixth in the tournament, and 12.0 rebounds per game, second among all competitors, as Ireland won three of its four games in the group stages before falling to eventual champion Bulgaria in the semifinals. For her efforts, Melia was named to the All-Star Five at the conclusion of the Championship.
Nearly half of SJU’s roster (6 of 14) is comprised of freshmen in guards Kaliah Henderson (Tampa, Fla.) and Lauren Ross (Media, Pa.), guard/forward combo Jaden Walker (New Freedom, Pa.), and forwards Imogen Ayliffe (Perth, Western Australia), Claire Melia (Monasterevin, Ireland), and Gabby Smalls (Pemberton, N.J.).
Dropping 18 points in the Washington Mystics’ 89-78 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 5 of the 2019 Women’s National Basketball Association Finals on October 10, former Saint Joseph’s guard Natasha Cloud ‘15 became a WNBA champion. Cloud, drafted 15th overall by the Mystics in the 2015 WNBA draft, started all nine playoff games at the point and averaged 13.1 points per game, 6.2 assists per game, and 3.4 rebounds per game in a team-leading 34.2 minutes per game during Washington’s run to its first WNBA title in franchise history.