AMHERST, Mass.—It was a tale of two halves in Friday evening's NCAA Tournament First Round matchup, as UMass Boston women's basketball fell just short in a season-ending 61-56 loss to St. Joseph's College (Maine) at Amherst's LeFrak Gymnasium.
Saint Joseph's College 61, UMass Boston 56
(UMass Boston 25-4)
(St. Joseph's 28-1)
HOW IT HAPPENED
After outscoring the Monks in each of the first two quarters and earning a 38-25 halftime advantage, the Beacons couldn't hold off St. Joseph's second-half surge. The Monks outscored the Beacons 19-9 in the third to cut the deficit to three and took the lead for good with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter.
Friday's game was the first-ever NCAA Tournament game in UMass Boston women's basketball program history. The contest marked the final collegiate games for seniors Lydia Vital (Cambridge, Mass.), Katie Mathieu (Coventry, Conn.) and Raven Kelsey (Boston, Mass.).
Freshman Shania Osborne (Fairfield, Mass.) tied the game-high with 16 points on an efficient 8-of-11 shooting. She added four rebounds and two blocks in the loss.
Fellow freshman Joie Grassi (Plymouth, Mass.) added on a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Grassi also chipped in a team-best four assists and one block. Vital was the final Beacon in double-figures, as she recorded 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Julia Champagne led four St. Joseph's College player in double-figures with 16 points. Champagne shot just 3-11 from the field but knocked down 9-10 free throws- as part of a 19-8 final disparity in free throw attempts between the two sides.
Hannah Marks chipped in 12 points, while Kelsi McNamara (seven assists) and Emily Benway each finished with 10 points on the night.
St. Joseph's College took advantage of the Beacons early nerves to race out to a 6-0 lead 69 seconds in.
The Beacons settled in on their next possession, with Grassi draining a 3-pointer to kick off a 20-5 run to close out the quarter. Osborne knocked down back-to-back layups to give the Beacons their first lead with 5:35 left in the first and the Beacons extended their run to 12-0 when Megan Dixon (Hanover, Mass.) and Grassi added baskets.
After a McNamara 3-pointer cut the deficit to 12-9, Jalani Jackson (Brockton, Mass.) answered with a 3-pointer and Osborne chipped in a basket to make it 17-9. In the end, UMass Boston would lead 20-11 after the first 10 minutes, with the Beacons' freshman combining for 19 of 20 total points.
The Beacons advantage stayed at a comfortable distance in the second quarter as it bounced between seven and 12 points throughout most of the quarter. After St. Joseph's cut the deficit to 30-23 with 3:09 to play in the second, Geanna Williams (Cromwell, Conn.) and Whitney Fulton (Norwalk, Conn.) knocked down back-to-back shots to push the lead back to double-digits.
Two Osborne baskets in the final 66 seconds of the half gave UMass Boston their largest lead of the game at 38-25.
UMass Boston went into the break shooting 44.4 percent (16-36) from the field and 4-13 (30.7 percent) from distance. On the other side, the Monks were shooting just 33.3 percent (10-30) from the field.
The two teams traded baskets to start the second half, before the Monks rattled off nine-straight points to cut the deficit to 40-36 just over four minutes into the quarter.
St. Joseph's cut the deficit to one on two separate instances, but Grassi knocked down a jumper to push it to three and Fulton drained a deep 3-pointer to maintain the lead.
UMass Boston held a 47-44 edge heading into the final quarter.
UMass Boston started off the fourth quarter strong, as Vital knocked down a three to push the lead to 50-44.
The Monks answered with a 9-0 run over the next 6:30 minutes. McNamara tied the game with a a jumper at 5:44 and Reagan McFerran gave St. Joseph's their first lead since the opening minutes with a free throw with 3:32 remaining.
Osborne had a chance to tie the game with 2:15 left, but after knocking down a lay-in while getting fouled, her free throw fell just short.
St. Joseph's answered with a jumper to push the lead back to three and then Champagne knocked down a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach with 34 seconds to play.
BY THE NUMBERS
- St. Joseph's outscored the Beacons 36-18 in the second half. The Monks shot 52.3 percent (11-21) from the field in the final two quarters. UMass Boston shot just 7-27 (25.9 percent) from the field and hit just 2-14 3-pointers (14.3 percent) in the final half.
- Mathieu set the program record for games played by suiting up in a Beacons' uniform for the 109th time. Mathieu, Vital, Grassi and Williams all set the single-season mark for games played by appearing in their 29th game of the year.
- With her 13 points, Grassi moved into second-place in program history for points in a single-season (455). Grassi recorded at least eight points in every game of her freshman year.
- UMass Boston held a 45-29 edge in rebounding and 28-9 lead in bench points.
- The Beacons were whistled for 21 fouls in the game, while St. Joseph's was only called for 13 fouls. The Monks ended the night 14-19 from the charity stripe and UMass Boston went 4-8.
- With the win, the Monks advance to Saturday to face #1 Amherst College at 6 p.m.
UMass Boston anticipates returning 15 players for next season, after putting together the most historic season in program history.