The women’s basketball team moved to second in the Atlantic-10 Conference, with a 79-70 win over La Salle on Saturday, Jan. 23 at Chaifetz Arena. They are currently 6-1 in conference play, which is the best conference start in school history.
Despite a strong start from La Salle in the first quarter and the Bills trailing 19-10, SLU was nothing but composed in the last three minutes of the quarter to get back on the Explorers’ heels. Sophomore forward Maddison Gits single-handedly put the Billikens back in the game with two jumpers and two layups in the last three minutes of the quarter. SLU trailed La Salle, 19-18.
This swing of momentum was crucial to their 6-0 spurt going into the second quarter. Sophomore guard Aaliyah Covington sunk a three-pointer and a layup to help give the Billikens their first double-digit lead of the game with four minutes left before half. She put away another basket behind the arc, and freshman guard Jordyn Frantz tallied the last points of the half with a jumper to put SLU ahead by 13 going into the break.
However, La Salle made it clear they would not go down without a fight. They scored 15 points within the first six minutes of the quarter, bringing the gap to six points. SLU had no problem rising to the challenge as a strong third quarter team. Two three-pointers and a pair of free throws expanded the Billikens’ lead, with two minutes left in the third quarter. SLU led 64-52 going into the fourth.
The Bills opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from senior guard Jamesia Price to make it clear that SLU was ready to dominate the last ten minutes of the game. They took control with a 13-8 run over La Salle in the first six minutes, and the Explorers never came within ten points until the final seconds, with a layup at the buzzer.
Sophomore guard Jackie Kemph led the Bills in points with 17 and assists with nine. Gits was close behind with a career-high 14 points. Covington also had 14 points, which marks the third game in a row that she has scored double digits. She now has an average of 16 points per game.
Price gathered two steals, putting her at 174 total steals and in second place on SLU’s career steals list. Frantz had a career-high six rebounds.
The Billiken bench scored 38 points, 15 in the second quarter alone, proving the depth of their roster. La Salle’s bench only scored 19 points. SLU shot 50.9 percent from the field compared to La Salle’s 46.9 percent.
SLU is now 16-4 overall for the second time in program history. This win gave the Billikens a guarantee for a winning season, and already one more win than they registered all of last season.
Head Coach Lisa Stone gave credit to the bench for their performance. “Our bench was outstanding. Gits and Covington had great offensive performances, and [junior forward] Olivia Jacubicek gave us great energy defensively. Our bench has been huge since the George Mason game. Now we’re ten players deep, rotating players and keeping people fresh, and it’s a big difference for us.”
Coach Stone is constantly keeping her team in the present and is looking towards their goals for each game. “We want to continue to get better, and we want to stay with the 1-0 focus and our next 40 minutes. We’re only as good as our next 40 minutes.”
Stone could not be happier about her team’s start to the conference and their and current record overall. “6-1 in the A-10 is a great feeling, and to get 16 wins to ensure a winning season for the first time in thirteen years is amazing,” she said. “There is more Billiken basketball to come, and I am so excited for this team.”
SLU goes on the road for the next two games against George Mason and George Washington. The women play on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. in Fairfax, Virginia to get even with the Patriots. They will face the Colonials on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 1 p.m. in Washington, D.C.