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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Women’s basketball season in review

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GRAPHIC: GABRIELLA GUZZARDO ’23/THE HAWK

Talented young core emerges during roller coaster season

In a season filled with plenty of ups and downs, the St. Joe’s women’s basketball team managed to find a way to finish the season on a high note.

Despite a rough 1-6 start to their season, the Hawks went 12-11 the rest of the way, and made a surprise run to the semifinals of the Atlantic-10 (A-10) Conference Tournament.

This season marks the fourth consecutive losing season for the Hawks, and it will also be the fourth consecutive season without an NCAA Tournament or Women’s National Invitational Tournament appearance. That will extend the longest postseason drought since Head Coach Cindy Griffin arrived on Hawk Hill 21 years ago.

The Hawks had a rough year offensively, finishing second to last in the conference in points per game (58.3). It is not as if they were shooting particularly poorly either, as they were seventh in the conference in field goal percentage (0.400). 

The team’s offensive woes seem to have been rooted in their problems with ball security. They averaged 15.4 turnovers per game, which was the second worst in the A-10. Rebounding was another big issue for the Hawks this season. They were last in the conference in rebounds per game (33.5). 

The source of these problems can be tracked down even further. Two players, who the Hawks missed dearly during the later half of the season, were junior guard Kaliah Henderson and junior forward Gabby Smalls. Both players missed the remainder of the season after they announced they were entering the transfer portal. Henderson and Smalls led the Hawks in scoring and rebounding, respectively, during the 2020-21 season.  

On the bright side, the Hawks found themselves some great young talent to build a foundation on. First-year forward Talya Brugler won six A-10 Rookie of the Week awards and was voted  the A-10 Rookie of the Year. Brugler, along with fellow first-year players forward Laila Fair,  guard Julia Nyström, and guard Mackenzie Smith were voted to the conference’s All Rookie Team. The team’s four All A-10 Rookie Team selections are the most from any team in conference history. 

Another reason for optimism is how well the Hawks performed in the A-10 Tournament. Entering this year’s tournament, the team had not won a game in the tournament since 2019 and had not made the semifinals since 2018. The Hawks entered this year’s tournament as the seven seed. They handled tenth seeded Duquesne University with ease in a 65-49 win before knocking off the second seeded University of Rhode Island 51-48 in the quarterfinal. 

The team’s run would ultimately end in the semifinal with a 76-58 loss to the three seed, the University of Massachusetts. Despite the one-sided loss, the tournament run has shown that the Hawks can hang with the top dogs. Having that big game experience could prove to be an important asset for a young team with promising first-year and sophomore players.

Entering the offseason, the Hawks are in a similar situation to the one they were in after last season. They have a group of young talent that provides optimism after yet another losing season, but the question still remains: can Coach Griffin and the Hawks finally turn things back in the right direction? 

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