RICHMOND, Va.- The fourth-seeded Saint Louis Billikens rode the one-two punch of their two First Team All-Conference standouts Sadie Stipanovich and Jackie Kemph to their second straight semifinal appearance at the Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship, defeating fifth-seeded Fordham 68-58 Friday afternoon in the second quarterfinal at the Richmond (Va.) Coliseum.
Stipanovich, who became the Billikens' all-time leading scorer with a field goal in the fourth period, led the way with 27 points and seven rebounds, and now has 1,547 career points. Kemph, the 2016-17 Atlantic 10 Player of The Year, scored nine of her 18 points in the third period when Stipanovich was briefly shut down by the Rams' defense, allowing Saint Louis (25-7) to slowly extend their lead, which was as high as 14 points.
"Jackie pushed the tempo, she's the Player of The Year for a reason, handling the ball well," said Saint Louis head coach Lisa Stone. "Sadie was part of my first recruiting class. These two are pretty special."
"The coaching staff was my number one draw to Saint Louis University. I grew up in St. Louis, but never stepped on campus," Stipanovich explained. "I didn't even know I broke the record until after the game, but that's pretty cool."
Fordham (21-11) was led by sophomore Mary Goulding, who scored a season-high 17 points and added 11 rebounds, while their First Team All-Conference inside force G'mrice Davis also registered a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore guard Lauren Holden added 13 points. The Rams won the rebounding war 32-25 but connected on only 5-of-16 three-point attempts.
"They're a locked in team. I've seen it from day one with Saint Louis," Fordham head coach Stephanie Gaitley. "Their team reminds me a lot of our championship team of 2014. We can live with missed shots, but we had to clean up defensively, and that's what hurt us today."
Fordham committed ten turnovers, while Saint Louis only turned the ball over four times, setting a school record in the process.
The Billikens advance to face top-seeded Dayton, who eliminated VCU in the day's first quarterfinal, on Saturday at 11am. Stone is confident that her team can bounce back from a regular season finale loss to the Flyers, 68-62 in overtime just nine days ago.
"I've never felt more confident about being in this tournament," Stone explained. "But we've got to be the best Saint Louis we can be tomorrow."