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St. Joseph’s upset of #5 Maryland: A monumental win for the ages

The Saint Joseph's Hawks upset the #5 Maryland Terrapins Saturday, led by a player who had transferred from the opposing side.

Photo by Sideline Photos, LLC

The city of brotherly love wasn’t so friendly to Maryland when they paid a visit to play St. Joseph’s on Saturday.

In what culminated to being the most notable win in school history since their upset of #3 Wichita State in 1977, look no further than the two transfers who sparked the victory: Natasha Cloud and Chatilla van Grinsven.

"I just tried staying as calm as I could; I just went into it thinking it was another game," said Cloud. "Even though I had the attachment to Maryland, it’s just another game that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain."

What makes this upset so unique is how it came to fruition. Usually when a team pulls off such shocking upset it’s usually because of this one factor: the team gets hot and can’t miss offensively. But that wasn’t the case at all for the Hawks as it was their effort, execution, defense and physiology on the court.

Those things revealed a team that truly felt they could win by any means necessary.

"We came out with a lot of confidence because our coaches believed in us -- a lot," said van Grinsven. "We all individually know what we can do; we as a team already knew that we could beat this team and what we could do as a team if we played together.

"We weren’t scared, we weren’t afraid (and) we weren’t intimidated. We had trust in each other and confidence."

Another fascinating narrative to this incredible story was Cloud’s journey. Starring right up the road at Cardinal O’Hara, Cloud was one of the top prospects in the country in high school. A myriad of schools wanted her -- especially St. Joseph’s.

However, in December of 2008, the hometown star decided to leave Philadelphia and committed to Maryland. She was literally on the other side playing for the Terrapins in 2010 as they defeated St Joseph’s, 74-60. Now fast-forward two years later and Cloud was back at Hagan Arena but this time in the uniform that was Crimson and Grey.

They say that "home is where your heart is" and that axiom is what led Cloud to transfer from Maryland to play for her hometown Hawks. Her presence, leadership and belief permeated throughout her teammates; it gave them a serenity knowing they could accomplish such a daunting task.

It provided St. Joseph’s something that was needed for this type of game -- an edge.

"We know what we have on this team, we know we have a very special team, a very talented team," said Cloud. "We’re a scrappy team, like our Coach (Cindy Griffin) always says, ‘We want people to be scared of us when they come visit (us), because we want to attack them first.’

"I think me being calm not only helped myself but also the team to be like ‘well she’s not scared to play her old team, so we shouldn’t be scared either.’ Going into it, we just kept repeating that we have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose."

While Cloud -- a 6’0" guard with an array of talent -- was making plays with her versatility - attacking the basket, throwing no-look passes and creating for her teammates - the other half of the dynamic duo, van Grinsven, was dominating with her low post presence as she led all scorers with 18 points while also registering 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.

There was no mystique of Maryland in the eyes of the talented post from the Netherlands.

The multi-skilled 6-foot-3 Colorado State transfer played with such purpose and passion. After having to sit out for a year and a half, it was obvious that van Grinsven wanted to show that they could play with the best.

"After a year and a half of sitting out, working everyday in practice," said van Grinsven. "It feels so great, accomplishing something like this early in the year. Just because you work so hard towards a goal like this.

"Every practice (last year) for me was a game. (Now) I can finally light my fire and shine on the court and help my teammates out and really show America what we’re worth."

Well after holding one of the nation’s top programs to just 14 second-half points en route to the upset, America has taken notice.