By Atlantic 10 Conference
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RICHMOND, Va. - Saint Joseph's made their only three-point shot of the game thanks to Sarah Veilleux, who drained the game-winner with 0.6 seconds remaining to give the sixth-seeded Hawks a 52-49 win, knocking off third-seeded Fordham and becoming the third lower-seeded team to advance in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship.
"That was an absolute perfect pass," Veilleux said, giving credit to teammate Chelsea Woods, who sent the ball out to the junior in the right corner after being double teamed in the interior. "I had struggled, obviously, the whole game, and it was an incredible pass and I felt it from the corner."
The interior play of Woods, Amanda Fioravanti and Adashia Franklyn eventually took its toll on Fordham. First Team All-Atlantic 10 forward G'mrice Davis, after scoring six points in a low scoring first half that saw the Rams lead 24-16 at intermission, only took five shots in the second half as the Hawks held the Rams to just 22 shots over the final twenty minutes. Davis finished with 13 points and 18 rebounds, while freshman Bre Cavanaugh led Fordham (22-9) with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Cavanaugh was fouled after an inbounds pass by Saint Joseph's, who had a foul to give trying to delay a Ram shot with 15.5 seconds left, but the foul was labeled in the act of shooting. The freshman missed her first free throw, but made her final two to tie the game at 49-49, setting up the game-winner by Veilleux.
Saint Joseph's (17-13), who defeated Fordham in the regular season finale for both teams 52-50 on February 24, dished out eleven assists, led by Alyssa Monaghan's four, while committing just four turnovers in the contest, while forcing eleven turnovers by the Rams.
"We've been in a lot of close games, so we've been in these situations maybe a little too often, but it's paying off this time of year," Griffin exclaimed. Four of the Hawks' last six games have been decided by one possession, and Saint Joseph's has won three of them.
Saint Joseph's now faces the quickest turnaround of the four teams who advanced to the semifinals, having to be back on the floor of the Richmond Coliseum Saturday at 1:30pm to face seventh-seeded Saint Louis, who eliminated #2 Duquesne earlier in the session, 71-65.
"We were in the same situation last year as the third seed," Griffin said. "I just told the kids our goal was to at least get one step further than last year. We have the experience, so we'll try to take advantage of that, and give us a little more confidence going into this game."
The Hawks are looking for their first Atlantic 10 Championship Game appearance since last winning the title in 2013. The Hawks and Billikens will follow the first semifinal, matching teams who have won the last three conference championships combined in top seed and defending title holder Dayton and George Washington, who took back-to-back crowns in 2015 and 2016. That game begins at 11:00 am. Both games will be televised by CBS Sports Network.