Top-seeded George Washington survived a slow start and went on to defeat number nine Dayton in quarterfinal action Saturday afternoon at the 2007 Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship.
With the Flyers holding a one point lead with just over five minutes remaining in the first half, eighth-ranked George Washington went on a 13-2 run, thanks in large part to Jessica Adair. The sophomore center scored eight of her game-high 14 points during the stretch as the Colonials headed into the locker room with a comfortable 31-21 advantage.
The upset-minded Flyers (12-19) were able to hang with the Colonials for much of the first half thanks to the efforts of juniors Brittany Holterman (10 points) and Nikki Oakland (nine points, eight rebounds).
George Washington continued to pour it on early in the second half, going on a 10-0 run in the opening minutes and turning what was once a close game into a rout.
"The run we made at the start of the second half was the difference and really took the wind out of Dayton," said George Washington head coach Joe McKeown. "I thought Dayton played well, but overall we did what we had to do to open the game up in the second half."
Led by senior Ayahna Cornish's 30 points, number five Saint Joseph's knocked off fourth-seeded Charlotte, 76-64.
Cornish, averaging 17 points per game during the regular season, shot 10 for 20 from the field and was good on two of her four three-point attempts. Senior Whitney Ffrench added 15 points while freshman Brittany Ford came off the bench to chip in 10 points while snaring eight rebounds.
Charlotte (18-12) held a 15-3 lead after the first six minutes of play. The Hawks then went to work, chipping away at the lead and eventually tying the score at 28-28 when Cornish hit a jumper just before halftime.
"We came out slower than we had wanted, but our kids off the bench came in and really energized us," Saint Joseph's head coach Cindy Griffin said of the Hawks' sluggish start. "Tying the game at the half was huge."
49ers' freshman Wendy Stywalt led her team with 16 points off the bench, but the second half belonged to Saint Joseph's (18-12). Whenever Charlotte looked poised to make a run, the Hawks had an answer.
After Saint Joseph's took the lead early in the second half, Charlotte sophomore Traci Ray (14 points) hit a three to knot the score at 40. Junior Timisha Gomez (eight points) promptly answered with a triple of her own to give the Hawks the lead for good.
With the win, Saint Joseph's earned a date in the semifinals with top-seeded George Washington. Tip-off is scheduled for tomorrow at noon.
Senior Kamesha Hairston scored a game-high 19 points and number two Temple coasted to an 84-60 victory over eleventh-seeded St. Bonaventure. Hairston, the 2007 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, was one of four Owls to score in double figures. Fellow senior Fatima Maddox chipped in 11 points, shooting seven of eleven from the field, while freshman LaKeisha Eaddy and junior Candace Borrows had 10 apiece.
After pulling off an upset of Massachusetts in the opening round of the A-10 Championship, the Bonnies (16-15) couldn't get on track against the Owls. As a team, St. Bonaventure shot just 25.9% (7-27) from the field in the first half. Junior Priscilla Edwards did her best to keep her team in the game, scoring nine points and shooting a perfect four of four from the field in the opening frame.
With their shots not falling from outside, the Bonnies attempted to pound it inside but repeatedly ran into Temple's shot blocking duo of Lady Comfort (4 blocks) and Jasmine Stone (3 blocks). As a team, the Owls finished with 11 blocked shots and 11 steals.
"Defense is contagious just as much as offense is," said Temple head coach Dawn Staley. "I thought our players came out with a certain level of energy."
Edwards and senior Audrey Latendresse each finished with 14 points for St. Bonaventure, but the three-time defending A-10 champion Owls proved to be too much to handle.
With the win, Temple (24-6) advances to the A-10 Championship semifinal round for the fifth consecutive year.
Senior Michele Miller calmly sank two free-throws with 2:07 left to give Xavier their first lead since they held a 5-4 advantage early in the first half and the Musketeers (24-7) topped Saint Louis, 64-63, in a thrilling quarterfinal game.
Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year Amber Harris led all scorers with 24 points, but the real story was Xavier's near brush with defeat.
The Billikens received contributions from their bench as they put forth a strong effort to give host Xavier an early exit from the Championship. Senior Tyler McIlwraith scored 12 points and freshman Amanda Kemezys posted a double-double, scoring 10 and ripping down 12 boards.
Saint Louis (13-17) led by as many as 10 in the second half before Xavier cut the lead to one at 54-53 with 6:07 to play. The Billikens then silenced the crowd, going on a 6-0 run and taking a seven-point lead with 4:36 left.
Looking to ice the game, Saint Louis attempted to get the ball down low to Kemezys multiple times, but were repeatedly denied by the Musketeer defense. Harris had three of her team-high four steals in the final three minutes of play.
"I'm extremely proud of the way Amber played today," said Xavier head coach Kevin McGuff of his freshman center. "She made big play after big play down the stretch and that enabled us to win."
Harris' jumper with 2:37 left cut the Billiken lead to one before Miller (six points) put the Musketeers ahead to stay.
The Musketeers will take on second-seeded Temple tomorrow afternoon in the second semifinal matchup. Both games can be seen live on CSTV starting at noon.