WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Rivier University used a 22-0 first-half run to open up early breathing room on the way to a 75-60 victory over the University of Joseph Saturday in a GNAC basketball game at the O'Connell Center.
Rivier finished the regular-season 15-9 overall and 8-4 in the GNAC. St. Joseph finished 14-10 and 6-6. Rivier was able to finish fourth in the regular-season and will host a first-round GNAC Tournament game Tuesday, Feb. 19. St. Joseph finished eighth and will play at No. 1 seed Emmanuel, Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Sophomore guard Claire Consonni (Bristol, Conn.) scored a team-high 16 points, all in the second half, for St. Joseph and junior forward Mary Hyde (Derby, Conn.) had 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Junior guard Devon Diliberto (Waterbury, Conn.) and sophomore forward Heather Framski (Prospect, Conn.) scored 12 apiece for USJ with Framski grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
Rivier sophomore guard Deanna Purcell (Hudson, N.H.) scored a game-high 25 points for Rivier. Junior guard A.J. Guidi (Derry, N.H.) had 18 points and seven rebounds and Jaclyn Penniman (Dudley, Mass.) had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Raiders.
The day began for USJ with celebrations. Diliberto was presented a game ball after becoming the fifth player in school history to score 1,000 career points, having passed the milestone in an away game at Old Westbury on Feb. 7. The Blue Jays' lone senior, co-captain Terese Cerins (Manchester, Conn.), was also honored during pre-game before playing her last regular-season home game.
When the game began, Rivier took an early lead and never trailed in the contest. The Radiers went up 15-6, which became 15-9 when Lindsay Feducia (Beacon Falls, Conn.) made a three-pointer with 12:55 left in the half. But the Blue Jays would not score for over 7:30 as Rivier scored 22 unanswered points. Penniman scored the first seven on a three-pointer and two transition layups in a mere 48 seconds and by the time it was over, Rivier was ahead 37-9.
Rivier shot 16-for-32 (50.0 percent) in the first half, including 9-for-13 on three pointers while St. Joseph was 6-for-33 (18.2 percent) and trailed 45-17 at halftime. The Blue Jays turned things around in the second half, shooting the same 16-for-32 as Rivier did in the first half while holding the Raiders to 10-for-28 (25.7 percent) after intermission.
Rivier's lead peaked at 48-19 with four minutes gone in the second half. Consonni then single-handedly nearly brought the Blue Jays back into the game. She shot 5-for-5 from the floor and scored all 16 of her points in a five minute span – four three-pointers, a put-back layup and two free throws to trim USJ's deficit to 56-37 with 10:25 to play. Hyde hit a three-pointer to get USJ within 16 at 58-42 with 8:04 left, but the teams played on even terms down the stretch and USJ never got close than the final margin of 15.
In regards to Cerins, USJ coach Kim Martin said: "T.C. has been an invaluable member of the women's basketball team for the past four years. She has developed into a tremendous leader of both the team and the student-athlete body. This season, she has stepped up in her role as co-captain, leading with a positive attitude and encouragement through every situation. Off the court, her maturity and dedication to helping others have been instrumental in the athletic department's community service efforts. T.C.'s future is bright as she will find success in her career endeavors."