PHILADELPHIA – Coming off of its first loss of the season after a 55-39 setback vs. Seton Hall on Sunday, the Saint Joseph's women's basketball team (2-1, 1-0 Big 5) will host Penn (3-0, 0-0 Big 5) in Philadelphia Big 5 action this Wednesday, November 20. Opening tip at Hagan Arena is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be streamed nationally on ESPN+, with audio broadcast available on TuneIn.
Saint Joseph’s is 1-0 in Big 5 play after defeating Temple, 67-63, on November 11, while Penn is set for its first Big 5 game of the season.
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The Hawks return eight letterwinners from a year ago, including two starters in sophomore guard Katie Jekot and sophomore forward Katie Mayock, and add five newcomers to the mix. Head coach Cindy Griffin, now in her 19th season on Hawk Hill, has a young squad this year as nine of her 13 players are among either the freshman or sophomore classes.
Saint Joseph’s is 40-4 all-time against Penn but has dropped the last two match-ups, suffering a 65-45 road loss on November 15 of last season and a 57-50 home loss on December 11, 2017. Then a freshman, Katie Mayock dropped a team-high 11 points in last season’s loss. SJU’s last win over Penn came in the form of a 57-53 road victory on November 22, 2016, while the Hawks’ last home win over the Quakers was a 50-46 victory on December 8, 2015.
NOTHING SMALL FROM SMALLS
Freshman forward Gabby Smalls went off for a career- and game-high 12 rebounds in a strong defensive effort and added six points in SJU’s 55-39, neutral-site loss against Seton Hall at Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym on November 17. Smalls leads the Hawks in total rebounds with 18 through three games for an average of 7.7 boards per contest.
HAWKS OVER THE OWLS
Sophomore guard Katie Jekot hit eight consecutive free throws in the final 1:07 to close out a phenomenal team effort in a 67-63 Big 5 victory over Temple at Hagan Arena on November 11. Freshman forward Claire Melia recorded a team-high 17 points and game-high nine rebounds while junior guards Lula Roig and Mary Sheehan added 13 points apiece. The win marked SJU’s first victory over Temple since November 29, 2015 and first home victory over Temple since November 18, 2014.
Claire Melia poured in a game-high 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor in SJU’s season-opening 71-57 road win over Columbia on November 7. The rookie added a game-high four assists to go with three rebounds, two blocks, and one steal. Gabby Smalls added a game-high nine rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench as the rookie pair led the Hawks on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
ATLANTIC 10 ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Following her 23-point performance against Columbia in her collegiate debut, freshman forward Claire Melia was selected the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week on November 11.
NEW MINUTES FOR NEWMAN
Sophomore guard Devyne Newman saw a career-high 24 minutes off the bench in SJU’s 71-57 road win over Columbia on November 7 and took advantage of the opportunity by dropping four points, an assist, and two steals en route to the SJU victory.
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 and did an outstanding job in SJU’s 71-57 road win over Columbia on November 7, pouring in 13 points while running SJU’s explosive offense.
“Lula played fantastic today. She had three really good practices leading up to this game, and she has been really composed at practice and understanding what we want and keeping things more simple. Her speed is tremendous, and she did a really good job of slowing down their transition offense.” -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,’ so be sure to call her Lovin Marsicano when she hits a shot! The story behind it? When Marsicano was two years old, she ate a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup... and ended up being allergic. After a trip to the hospital, her mother said, “She just needs a little bit of lovin’” and the rest, as they say, is history!
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.
Over one-third of SJU’s roster (5 of 13) 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 Claire Melia (Monasterevin, Ireland) and Gabby Smalls (Pemberton, N.J.).
GRIFFIN INKS NORTH JERSEY PAIR TO NIL
Head coach Cindy Griffin announced the signing of two student-athletes who have inked National Letters of Intent to attend Saint Joseph’s in the fall of 2020, it was announced on November 14. North Jersey point guards Emma Boslet (Edison, N.J./Saint Thomas Aquinas High School) and Olivia Mullins (Somerset, N.J./Rutgers Preparatory High School) will arrive on Hawk Hill in time for the 2020-21 season and have received Honorable Mention recognition as a recruiting class according to Blue Star Basketball Report.
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.