BROOKLYN, NY – On a night where St. Joseph's honored seniors Tara Gleason (Woodside, NY/Stella Maris), Allison Kavanagh (Woodhaven, NY/Mary Louis), and Elizabeth Shea (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Kearney), it was fitting that one hit the biggest shot of the game. With the Lady Bears clinging to a two-point lead, Gleason knocked down a trifecta from the right corner to clinch the game.
It took a while to reach that point, however. Both the Lady Bears (10-15, 3-1 HVWAC) and Bloodhounds (10-15, 7-6 CUNYAC) entered their regular season finale on three game losing streaks. A win would be a huge momentum boost heading into conference tournament play.
Early on, the teams played like they had dropped three straight. With missed shots and stoppages of play, neither team was able to establish any kind of rhythm. At the seven minute mark, St. Joseph's had a slim three point lead, 20-17.
Then, as if someone had flipped a switch, the offenses kicked into high gear and set the stage for a wild finish to the half. Both teams scored more than twice as many points in the final seven minutes than in the first 13 and woke up the previously lifeless crowd at Brooklyn Technical High School.
The highlight came with four minutes remaining, when the two teams traded five consecutive three pointers in just 60 seconds. Junior Caitlyn Kakavas (Bayside, NY/St. Agnes) hit the first two for the Lady Bears, before junior Joanne Crimeni (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Ford) concluded the barrage and put St. Joseph's up eight, 37-29. But in the final 2:30, John Jay was able to cut into the Lady Bears lead, thanks to five points from Allana Beddoe, and head into the break down 42-40.
The madness continued in the second half, as Dominique Grice gave the Bloodhounds the lead back just under two minutes into the half. The two teams would continue to trade the lead, six times in all, and twice tied, in a high scoring affair.
The teams remained a possession apart for the early portion of the half before John Jay was able to stretch the lead to ten. Ten is a pivotal number for St. Joseph's. The Lady Bears were 2-7 this season in games decided by ten points or less, after starting out 2-0. So down 68-58 with just nine minutes to play, the game was in the balance.
The Lady Bears proceeded to go 4-of-5 from both the field and the free throw line over the next three minutes to bring the lead back down to two, 72-70. After regaining the lead, sophomore Janine Doran (South Ozone Park, NY/Archbishop Molloy) twice put the Lady Bears up four with free throw shots at 4:22 and 3:15 marks. The Bloodhounds didn't' quit though and each time responded to keep it a one possession game.
In an important possession that could either crush John Jay's spirit or give them new blood, the Lady Bears looked to one of their leaders with the game on the line. Freshman Megan Moran (Syosset, NY/St. Dominic's) sent a pass from the free throw line out beyond the arc and Gleason didn't miss from there, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and giving the Lady Bears their largest lead since the first half.
The Bloodhounds went just 1-for-8 after that and the Lady Bears connected on 5-of-6 free throws, going on to win 88-81.
Gleason finished with seven points and three rebounds in 19 minutes. Kavanagh hit a key free throw late, tying the game before the Lady Bears took the lead for the final time. The physical forward had nine points and seven rebounds and left to a standing ovation after fouling out. Shea contributed to the win with two rebounds and two assists.
Junior Ashley McQuillan (Brooklyn, NY/St. Francis Prep) netted a game-high 23 points. It's her third straight game with at least 18 points. Doran was the only other Lady Bear in double-figures, she backed up her career-high 21 points Saturday, with 19 and also led the team with nine rebounds. Moran and Teresa Mangan (Cleveland, OH/St. Joseph's) each had eight points and Moran had a career high four blocks - the most by a Lady Bear in a single game this season.
John Jay put four girls in double-digits, led by Jessica Lirio with 22. Beddoe finished with 15 and Jamecia Forsythe posted a 12 point, 14 rebound double-double. Grice rounded out the four with 16 points.
St. Joseph's now turns its attention to the post-season, where it'll take on number three seed Berkeley in the quarterfinals of the Hudson Valley Women's Athletic Conference Championship Tournament. The second seeded Lady Bears tip-off on Saturday, at either 4:00 pm or 6:00 pm in New Rochelle.