A 34-point performance by freshman point guard Ashley McQuillan powered the St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team to a dramatic come-from-behind 81-73 victory of Southern Vermont College on Saturday.
St. Joseph’s fell behind by as many as 15 points against Southern Vermont College early on before fighting back in the final minutes to beat the Mountaineers. The win came after the Bears’ men’s team lost to Vermont’s men’s squad by more than 20 points earlier in the evening.
The game started inauspiciously for St. Joseph’s. A faster, more athletic Mountaineers team opened with three straight baskets to take a quick 6-0 lead. McQuillan kept St. Joseph’s in the game by scoring 12 points in the next ten minutes. Matching her point for point was the Mountaineers’ Joa Claircius, also a freshman point guard.
With Southern Vermont up 24-20 Claircius went on a tear, scoring the game’s next 11 points. The run gave the Mountaineers a 15-point advantage but St. Joseph’s chipped away at the lead and went into the half trailing 37-30.
The Mountaineers built another, substantial lead of 14 points early in the third but couldn’t contain McQuillan on the offensive end. The guard– who scored 18 points in 18 minutes in the first half– hit two jump shots and a pair of layups to bring the Lady Bears within one, 57-56, with 8:30 remaining.
Following a timeout, another basket from McQuillan gave St. Joseph’s its first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
The teams then traded a long series of baskets and leads until, with 1:25 to play, St. Joseph’s Center Julia Serewko nailed a jumper that seemed to put the game out of reach. But Southern Vermont’s Claircius responded with a three-pointer that made it a two-possession game with 1:12 left on the clock.
With time running out St. Joseph’s managed to hold on and went on to win by a margin of 81-73.
“This was a big win for us,” said St. Joseph’s Head Coach Frank Carbone. “If we can continue this way we have the makings of a very good team.”
Carbone, who praised McQuillan’s performance, said St. Joseph’s knew it had found a special player in McQuillan the moment the season started. “Once she entered we knew we had our point guard of the future,” Carbone said.
McQuillan’s 34 points were the most points scored by a Lady Bear in a regulation game since Mary Barry scored 44 in 2001. The night eclipsed McQuillan’s previous career-high of 33, set only two games earlier.
Senior guard Melissa Velez and sophomore forward Allison Kavanagh contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively, for St. Joseph’s.
The Mountaineers were led by Claircius, who finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.
The win raised St. Joseph’s (5-4) over .500 on the season. Southern Vermont fell to 2-5. St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team plays its next game against Yeshiva University on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m.