FAIRFIELD, Conn. - St. Francis (Pa.) coach Myndi Hill had an interesting take on why her team was upset at Mount St. Mary's last month.
"Mount gave us a knockout punch. ... They hit us with an uppercut, and we didn't get up from it," Hill said yesterday after the Red Flash beat the Mountaineers, 80-63, in a Northeast Conference women's quarterfinal at Sacred Heart. "They had us on the ropes."
But it was St. Francis (21-7), the NEC regular-season champion, that had the Mountaineers (10-18) on the ropes yesterday.
If Beth Swink (24 points) wasn't scoring in the low post, Sami Allison was hitting from long range (5-for-7 on three-pointers). If the Red Flash wasn't clamping down on Adrienne Harris (nine points), it was shutting down Myriam Baccouche (seven points).
To compound matters for the Mount, Beth Foster (14 points) got in foul trouble and wound up playing only 25 minutes. With the Mount's top three scorers rendered somewhat ineffective, it was no surprise that coach Vanessa Blair's team struggled.
"We got in early foul trouble in the first half, which changed a lot of our offensive plan, which was getting the ball into Beth," Blair said. "Then, in the second half, I think we came out a little bit tentative and didn't want to get into any more foul trouble.
"I think that was when they were able to open up a lead on us and we were never able to recover."
Indeed. The Red Flash led 36-28 at halftime, then went on a 22-10 run in the first seven minutes of the second half that produced a 58-38 margin. Swink, last year's NEC Rookie of the Year, made five baskets on layups during this run.
"Beth Swink had a great game in the low post, and we had a tough time defending that," Blair said. "Because of the foul trouble we were in, we didn't want to play too aggressive and get in more foul trouble."
When Swink got in foul trouble and was yanked by Hill, the Mount trailed only 19-16 after Baccouche hit a three. But St. Francis' Regina Schlichter came off the bench and made three shots that helped her team build a 36-28 lead at the break.
"Regina was 3-for-3, and Jess Van Der Leest got a couple of key rebounds and brought some defensive intensity," Hill said. "Those were huge statements by some of your non-starters, and that's what we didn't have at Mount a couple weeks ago."
Mount St. Mary's tried to make a difference by going to a full-court press. The move worked since St. Francis turned the ball over and the Mountaineers cut their deficit to 64-49 with 8:12 left. But Allison squelched the budding rally by sinking another three.
"The halftime speech was, 'Don't give up,' " Blair said, referring to how the Mount overcame a 16-point halftime deficit when it beat St. Francis.
"They already knew that inside, because they were down 10 at the two-minute mark at the Mount and still pulled it out. But for the whole week we definitely told them that."
MOUNT ST. MARY'S-Bogart 2-5 1-1 5, Foster 7-11 0-0 14, Baccouche 3-130-0 7, Rashid 6-15 2-2 15, Harris 3-9 3-4 9, Simms 0-0 0-0 0, Blain 0-0 0-00, Ust 1-6 0-0 3, Adams, 2-4 0-0 4, Wike 3-3 0-0 6, Hegge 0-1 0-2 0. Totals27-67 6-9 63. ST. FRANCIS (PA.)-Ward 2-10 0-0 4, Chesick 5-10 6-6 16, Swink 12-14 0-224, Hewitt 2-5 2-2 7, Allison 7-11 0-0 19, Enyeart 0-0 0-0 0, Gompers 0-0 0-00, Black 1-2 0-0 2, Schlichter 3-3 0-0 6, Van Der Leest 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 33-57 8-10 80. Half: St. Francis, 36-28. 3-point goals: Mt. St. Mary's 3-13 (Rashid1-3, Ust 1-3, Baccouche 1-5, Harris 0-2); St. Francis 6-11 (Allison 5-7, Hewitt 1-2, Ward 0-1, Black 0-1). Fouled out: Foster. Rebounds: Mt. St.Mary's 30 (Baccouche 4, Ust 4, Adams 4); St. Francis 36 (Chesick 8).Assists: Mount St. Mary's 5 (Rashid 2, Harris 2; St. Francis 24 (Allison9). Total fouls: Mt. St. Mary's 16, St. Francis 13. A-NA.