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Redshirt junior Keri McMahan pushes down the court on a fast break. McMahan hit the game-wining free throw against UMass with one second left.

Redshirt junior Keri McMahan pushes down the court on a fast break. McMahan hit the game-wining free throw against UMass with one second left.

Saint Louis University Athletics

Saint Louis University Athletics

Redshirt junior Keri McMahan pushes down the court on a fast break. McMahan hit the game-wining free throw against UMass with one second left.

Erin McClelland and Sam Glass

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The Saint Louis University Women’s Basketball team kicked off the return from Christmas break with an away game against Dayton on Sunday, Jan. 14. The Bills came in with everything to prove in the A-10 semifinal rematch from last season that saw the Bills fall narrowly at 75-65. The Billikens fought hard against the Flyers, ending the first quarter down 5 points 20-25. The Bills gained an early lead in the second quarter but were unable to hold on as Dayton took control ending the half 34-50. The Billikens were unable to close the gap for the remainder of the game, and the score finished with a 76-101 loss.

The Billikens returned home to Chaifetz Arena last Thursday, Jan. 18. Continuing conference play, the Bills took the court against the University of Massachusetts. The Billikens played an intense match, ending the first quarter 12-15 with the Bills trailing. The half ended at 22-29 with a Massachusetts lead. The first half was tight with the Bills keeping their deficit in the single digits.

The game lit up in the third quarter when the Billikens took their first lead of the game at 41-40 with 1:48 left in the quarter. The Bills only held on to the lead for a brief 30-second period when Massachusetts struck back to reclaim the lead, ending the third quarter at 42-43.

The game was decided on free throws where the Bills pulled out 16 points from the foul line with a 72 free-throw percentage. Senior guard Jackie Kemph went on a hot streak with 8 free throws scored, giving her another record for the books. On top of being the highest scoring SLU Women’s Basketball player, she also became the holder of most career-record free throws at 407, beating the previous holder’s record by one.

Jackie Kemph may have set the record, but the big free throw was made by junior guard Kerri McMahan. The score was set at 63-63. Head coach Lisa Stone stood intently with another timeout in the bank. Massachusetts freshman guard Bre Hampton-Bey went up for shot with eight seconds on the clock. McMahan got the rebound. Stone wanted to “get the rebound and call a timeout,” but McMahan had another idea. “Kerri just went with it and had a good sense of it,” said Stone. With two players on her, she dribbled the length of the court, went up for the shot, and got fouled.

With one second in the game, McMahan needed to make one of her two free throws. She stepped up to the line. First shot. Miss. With all the weight on her, she lined up for her next shot. Absolute silence filled the arena. The ball rolled from her hand. It landed square in the basket and the crowd broke out in cheers. McMahan scored the game-winning basket, leading the Bills to 64-63 win.

Last Sunday, the team remained at home where they defeated conference foe Saint Joseph’s University by a score of 96-73.  The Billikens moved to 10-9 with a conference record of 4-2 while the Hawks fell to 9-9 with a 4-2 conference record as well.  SLU players and more than 6,000 spectators alike wore pink to support and raise awareness for breast cancer.  The win also marked Coach Lisa Stone’s 100th as head coach of SLU Women’s Basketball.  

Despite the fact that St. Joseph’s scored first, the game was all in the hands of the Billikens after that.  At just the 7:50 mark, Jackie Kemph put SLU up 5-4, a lead that the Billikens wouldn’t lose for the rest of the game.  The Hawks were able to close the gap to a 3-point deficit with three consecutive 3-point field goals, but SLU was able to hold onto the lead and end the first quarter with a 26-18 lead.  

A field goal in the first possession for the home team gave them a double-digit lead once again.  St. Joseph’s continued to hang on coming in as close as five points, but some sharp-shooting by multiple Billikens kept the lead out of reach of the Hawks. SLU went into halftime with a 46-39 lead.  

St. Joseph’s came out hard in the second half, but it didn’t take long for the Billikens to take command of the game and start to pull away for good.  For most of the fourth quarter, SLU lead the game by over 20 points and continued to drain shots to keep the lead high. At the final buzzer the score was 96-73.   

The Billikens posted an impressive 50.7 shooting percentage from the field, their highest in a conference game this season. The great offensive showing was led by Kemph who scored over 20 points in her third consecutive game, and registered a double-double (21 pts, 13 assists).  Maddison Gits also recorded a double-double in the effort (10 pts, 11 rebounds). Paige Rakers, Tara Dusharm and Aaliyah Covington joined Kemph and Gits with over 10 points.

Following their big victory over St. Joseph’s, the Billikens traveled to Fairfax, Va. Where they took on George Mason University. SLU lead after the first quarter by just 4 points but the Patriots were able to out-score SLU in the second quarter to go up just 1 point going into the half.  

Coming out of the half, the game stayed very tight throughout with 17 lead changes over the course of the afternoon. The game was tied going into the final stanza, but SLU wasn’t able to hold on in a strong quarter of play for George Mason. The final score saw the Billikens fall to the Patriots, 81-72.  With the loss, SLU falls to 10-10 on the year and a conference record of 4-3, while George Mason moves to 16-5 and 5-2 in A10 play.

Jordyn Frantz lead all scorers with 21 points and Kemph, Gits, and Rakers joined her with double-digits. Gits also polished off another double-double with 11 rebounds in the contest.   

SLU remains on the east coast for a game against George Washington in D.C on Jan 27 at 11 a.m. They return to Chaifetz Arena Jan. 31 against Fordham for a matinee at 11 a.m.  

 

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