WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's basketball team picked up a statement win in front of the flocking fans of the O'Connell Center Wednesday night, knocking off the nation's top scorer, sophomore guard Christina Kiser (North Providence, R.I.), and the rest of the Bard College (BC) Raptors, 63-54, in non-conference action.
Sophomore forward Cheyenne-Mone Smith (Wethersfield, Conn.) stole the show with a sensational all-around performance: 16 points (7-14 FG), 14 rebounds, seven assists, six blocks and five steals. It was Smith's sixth career double-double. Sophomore forward Alexis Perrone (Frankfort, N.Y.) chipped in with another fine outing from the field (5-8 FG, 2-3 3FG), scoring 12 points. The Blue Jays held Kiser, who came into the night leading the nation in points per game (29), to just 19 points (5-9 FT), utilizing a box-and-one defense that forced Kiser into frustration.
The Blue Jays had it on cruise control in the first half, leading 46-17, but the Raptors came all the way back, cutting it to four with two minutes left. Key plays from Smith and freshman forward Madison McElroy (Colchester, Vt.) ended any hope of a miracle.
Score: Saint Joseph 63, Bard 54
Records: USJ (5-3), BC (4-2)
Location: O'Connell Athletic Center – West Hartford, Conn.
PLAYER QUOTE [Cheyenne-Mone Smith] "I want to thank my teammates for finishing everything and pushing through it all. We stuck with it, [Coach] told us that we have to work as a team, and talk as a team in order to win. When my team is confident in me, I am more confident in myself."
COACH QUOTE [Wendy Davis] "I'm psyched that we won. This is a team that we lost to last year [by 20]. We played a box and one [on Kiser], but in the second half, we had to go man-to-man…for a while, we had her frustrated. That was our goal. If they were going to beat us, we wanted the other four to beat us."
- The Blue Jays raced out to a 17-6 lead with 2:30 to go in the first quarter, as Perrone nailed a pair of jumpers, and Smith took care of business around the rim.
- The Raptors hung around, keeping it a 10-point game by the midway point of the second quarter. USJ closed the half strong though, scoring 11 straight to take a 37-16 lead into the locker room.
- Despite a season-low 16 points in the first half, BC bombarded the Blue Jays with 38 in the second half, including a 20-8 run to start the fourth quarter. They came all the way back, cutting it to four, 57-53, with two minutes to play. Kiser and sophomore teammate Jess Rylander (Providence, R.I.) carried most of the offensive load.
- Smith made a critical steal in the backcourt off a defensive rebound by Bard, leading to a short jumper to make it a six-point game, putting the Raptors away for good.
NUMBER TO KNOW
23 – The Blue Jays outscored the Raptors 23-5 off the bench, with five players combining for the 23.
- Bard entered the game leading the Liberty League (LL) in free-throw percentage (81%). They shot just 8-of-17 (47%). Meanwhile, USJ shot 15-of-20 (75%) from the charity stripe in the win.
- Smith combined for 11 of the Blue Jays' 20 steals and blocks.
- Kiser scored 12 of her 19 in the second half. She and Rylander combined for 33 of the Raptors' 54 points.
- Five Blue Jays scored at least six points on the night.
The Blue Jays look to keep the hammer down in a non-conference road matchup with Mount Holyoke on Saturday, December 7 at 1:00 p.m. in Holyoke, Mass.
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