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Hawks pounce on Terriers

Just the Facts, Ma'am: St. Joseph's pulled away in the second half with size and strength, claiming a 64-42 win over St. Francis of Brooklyn in the second semifinal of the Seton Hall Thanksgiving Classic. Natasha Cloud led the Hawks with 16 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Adashia Franklyn added 11 rebounds off the bench, helping the Hawks to a 46-25 rebounding edge. Eilidh Simpson led St. Francis with 12 points. For family affairs, torturous Christmas music, magic feathers, taunting, the vagaries of fate, all the colors, and uncomfortable implications, join your intrepid and numb blogger after the jump.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

On to game 2, and we've decided that we're rooting for whichever team has Seton Hall's bench. It's easier than moving. Early indications suggest that we've ended up rooting for St. Francis, which I'm okay with. I know it's probably better for Seton Hall's RPI, SOS, and other TLAs that they play St. Joseph's tomorrow, but sometimes I get tired of considering the big picture and just want to cheer for a team.

Pretty much everyone who's not here for the second two teams has cleared out. Seton Hall men are at the Prudential Center at 4 and volleyball is going for the Big East title at 5, so the Pirate people have mostly left. A couple of the usual suspects are still here, though. And there are Simmonses(eseseseses) everywhere. They will not relinquish Daisha and Ka-Deidre.

St. Joseph's brought a Hawk. Because, as we all know, the Hawk will never die. Unfortunately, the head doesn't fit tightly and the shade of maroon is a little off, so it looks like they brought their own turkey. This is a comment on the quality of this specific costume, not on the idea of the Hawk in general, please don't shoot me.

A couple of latecomers just sat next to me, not realizing that the start times had been swapped and Seton Hall had played at noon. And that, ladies and germs, is why you always come for both games of a doubleheader. Why wouldn't you? Free basketball is free! (And just to make my point, once they realized that Seton Hall had already played, they left. Why? WHY?!)

I should probably be disconcerted that a team from Brooklyn has no New Yorkers on it, right? Or that a team from Brooklyn has precisely one black player? I'm not crazy to be bothered by that, right?

At halftime, St. Joseph's is up 33-28. It's been sloppy for both teams. Eilidh Simpson is keeping St. Francis in it with 10 points, while the load is more balanced for St. Joseph's.

What is with the Christmas music, SHU? Stoppitomg.

It's okay, y'all. I can take the loneliness. Leave me here alone in these impossibly hard bleachers. That's all right. Just leave me here. You can all go. Just leave me here alone.

Signs your bleachers might be uncomfortable: your coach and his family would rather perch on a wooden box than sit in the bleachers.

This is going to sound weird and maybe a little unfortunate, but St. Joseph's looked much more like a Division I basketball team than St. Francis did, especially down the stretch. Their conditioning was way better, as was their form.

I hope Jordan Strode is all right after taking that hit to her braced right knee. She looked like she was in a lot of pain. Adashia Franklyn made some noise down low, going hard after offensive rebounds and blocking shots. I was very impressed with her. Chelsea Woods played a lot of the guard minutes off the bench in the second half with the absence of Strode, and comported herself well. Jessica Pongonis filled space in the middle.

Ashley Robinson (no, not that one) was all up on the offensie boards, following her shot. She definitely had some moments that were reminiscent of the professional Ashley Robinson. Kathleen Fitzpatrick sunk the dagger late in the second half with a long, high, arcing three that splashed through the net from somewhere in the vicinity of Cherry Hill. Her teammates occasionally had trouble spotting her. That might be because she's tiny. Sarah Fairbanks took advantage of the baseline all night- baseline and more height. She made a difference down low for the Hawks. Natasha Cloud did pretty much all the things, whether it was finding her teammates at the right time with the ball, pulling down long rebounds, or hitting shots from the outside. Ciara Andrews did a lot of her scoring in the second half.

I thought it was smart of Coach Griffin to conserve Cloud for a long stretch of the second half. They're going to need her tomorrow, and they didn't need her against St. Francis. (Also, if they go to stall ball, and she's holding it, does that mean the Hawks are utilizing Cloud storage?)

(...I'll show myself out.)

The Terriers' bench is very inexperienced. I think all of them are freshmen, and they showed it. Alex Delaney shows promise, but I don't know if I'd have a player with her build hanging out around the three-point arc as much as she does. Cassidy Derda looked a little lost out there, though she made some decent plays setting screens for her teammates. Blair Arthur is just adorably tiny. In general, though, they were not a memorable bunch. I hope they develop- you know how much I like seeing good basketball in the city. (Though see above caveat regarding the makeup of a team- if they aren't representing my city, they can't count as a city team.)

Jaymee Veney missed one ill-advised three pointer badly, and the St. Joe's fan section never let her live it down- the "airball, airball" chant came up every time she touched the ball. I think it got into her head, too. She didn't hit a shot afterwards, and she seemed disconcerted whenever they started up. That might also have been the defense, because they keyed on her pretty quickly. Leah Fechko had her moments of hustle, but then there was the play where she lost her balance and decided to literally sit the play out. Eilidh Simpson scored the first seven for the Terriers, but wasn't able to get the ball afterwards, as St. Joe's was able to adjust and change the passing lanes. I like the leadership of Katie Fox, both on and off the floor. She made a lot of good, smart plays. I think I expected more out of Sarah Benedetti, and she had moments where she looked like a solid senior, but she looked overmatched for most of the game, more than most of her teammates.

The St. Francis bench kept yelling to their players to box out. I don't think it really hit them that as hard as they were trying, St. Joseph's was bigger, stronger, and taller than they were, and no matter how much St. Francis threw their bodies in front of players, they weren't going to successfully keep St. Joseph's off the boards.

Officiating was unmemorable, so mediocre but otherwise survivable.

It took us a while to get out after the game, so we got to see one of the Hawks (I think Fairbanks, but don't hold me to this) use a volleyball to play soccer with a small child. D'awww.

Also, the Hawk will never die, but it will sometimes shed. I now have a Hawk feather in my coat pocket, because why not?

Props to the St. Joe's students who kept the noise up all through the game. I may not have been rooting for their team, and I may not root for their team tomorrow, but making the trip for women's basketball makes you a star in my book.

Odd note about this game- both teams wore their colors, St. Francis in bright blue, St. Joseph's in maroon. Hopefully either St. Francis or St. Peter's brought white.