Saint Joseph's 57

(19-12, 9-6 A 10)

(8) G. Washington 55

(26-3, 14-0 A 10)

    12:00 PM ET, March 4, 2007

    1 2 T
    JOES 19 3857
    #8GW 31 2455

    Top Performers

    Saint Joseph's: W. Ffrench 14 Pts, 5 Reb

    George Washington: K. Beck 15 Pts, 2 Reb

    St. Joe's stuns George Washington in Atlantic 10 semis

    Associated Press

    CINCINNATI -- During pregame introductions, guard Ayahna Cornish glanced at a Saint Joseph's teammate and winked like she knew something special was about to unfold.

    At the buzzer, that wink gave way to joyful tears.

    Saint Joseph's went to a full-court press in the closing minutes Sunday and pulled off its biggest upset in 15 years, rallying to beat George Washington (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today; No. 8 AP) 57-55 in the Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals.

    By overcoming a 13-point deficit in the final 5 minutes, Saint Joseph's (19-12) snapped the fourth-longest winning streak in Division I and became the first A10 team all season to beat the Colonials.

    "It's incredible," coach Cindy Griffin said, standing courtside a few minutes after the dramatic finish. "We've had an up-and-down year. We've lost two buzzer beaters and three in overtime.

    "Does this erase all of that? Maybe not."

    It sure took some of the luster off what had been the best season in George Washington's history.

    The Colonials (26-3) were only the fifth team to go through an A10 season undefeated. They had won their sixth straight regular season title, and brought a 19-game winning streak into the semifinal against a team it beat by 27 points on Feb. 23.

    Instead of taking another step toward their first tournament championship since 2003, the Colonials let another one get away. After building a 13-point lead, they had five turnovers against a full-court press that took them out of their game.

    "We just thought we were going to pull it out in the end," said point guard Kimberly Beck, who scored 15 points. "We played not to lose. We didn't play to win."

    Saint Joseph's will face Xavier on the Musketeers' home court for the tournament championship on Monday. Xavier beat No. 2 seed Temple 54-53 in the other semifinal. Saint Joseph's hasn't won the tournament since 1999. Xavier won it in 2000 and 2001.

    Saint Joseph's Whitney Ffrench scored all of her 14 points in the second half, six of them during a 10-point run that evened up the game.

    Jenna Loschiavo made a 3-pointer that tied it with 53 seconds left. After George Washington center Jessica Adair fouled out while going for a rebound with 34.2 seconds remaining, Brittany Ford made both free throws for the Hawks' first lead of the game at 54-52.

    The Hawks' Timisha Gomez made a free throw for the final margin with 5.1 seconds to go, and Kenan Cole missed a running bank shot at the buzzer, sending the Hawks running onto the court in celebration.

    It was a re-enactment of Saint Joseph's last big victory over a highly ranked team. The Hawks hadn't defeated a Top 10 team since Feb. 4, 1992, when they knocked off George Washington -- an identical No. 8 at the time -- by a 69-61 margin.

    Cornish, who leads Saint Joseph's with 17 points per game, was held to 12 on 4-of-13 shooting against the conference's top defense. But the Hawks played a little defense of their own down the stretch to pull it out.

    "It wasn't a different press," Beck said. "Nothing we haven't seen. We just didn't handle it well."

    Now, the Colonials will wait to see how much the loss costs them in their NCAA Tournament seeding.

    "It's disappointing," coach Joe McKeown said. "I'd be really disappointed more than anything if it has kept us out of the NCAA tournament, but it hasn't."

    George Washington was in position to finish off the Hawks several times.

    The Colonials' full-court press dug in and set the tone at the outset, forcing Saint Joseph's to turn the ball over on its first three possessions. The Hawks went 3-of-11 from the field and had five turnovers while George Washington pulled ahead 21-7 in the first 11 minutes.

    Saint Joseph's never got the gap under double-digits the rest of the half. George Washington provided an opening for the comeback by missing its first nine shots in the second half, going nearly 7 minutes without a field goal.

    "They missed some shots, and that kind of built our confidence a little bit," Griffin said.

    George Washington had 19 turnovers, 12 of them in the second half that fueled the Hawks' comeback and left the Colonials with plenty to work on during their unexpected time off.

    "We're not done," Beck said. "This kind of throws us in the fire. We've got to clean up stuff and try to make a run in the (NCAA) Tournament."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 57 55
    FG Made-Attempted 17-46 (.370) 21-59 (.356)
    3P Made-Attempted 6-23 (.261) 4-13 (.308)
    FT Made-Attempted 17-23 (.739) 9-14 (.643)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 18 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 4 14

    Game Leaders

    PointsW. Ffrench 14K. Beck 15
    ReboundsB. Ford 8J. Adair 10

    2006-07 Season

    Feb 23, 2007 @GW 87, JOES 60Recap | Box Score
    » Mar 4, 2007 JOES 57, @GW 55Recap | Box Score