Rasheer Fleming scored a career-high 22 points and added a team-high nine rebounds as Saint Joseph's topped Temple, 74-65, to capture the inaugural MHS Lift Big 5 Classic championship on Saturday evening at the Wells Fargo Center.
The win gives the Hawks their third consecutive A-10 crown and their sixth in the past seven seasons.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• It was a tight affair from the start between the two rivals, meeting for the fourth time in 13 months and the second title game in a row. But just like in the semifinals on Thursday, a goal in the final minute of the first quarter put the Hawks in front. With time running out in the frame, Manu Ghigliotti found Lily Santi in the circle; Santi was fouled by UMass goalkeeper Myrte van Herwijnen, an advantage call by the umpire allowed Santi to fire home while still on the ground to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead with five seconds to go in the first.
• UMass (13-7) equalized with 3:11 to go in the first half on a penalty corner tip from Hannah de Gast.
• Saint Joseph's (16-4) went ahead for good with just under five minutes to go in the third. On a penalty corner, Annabel Lindemulder sent a ball toward the cage that Bitters tipped home for a 2-1 lead.
• The Hawk defense that has been such a key piece of the team's success took over in the final quarter, suppressing foray after foray into the attacking zone by the Minutewomen. UMass mustered just one shot in the final stanza, which was snuffed out before it reached the cage, and the Hawks were champions once again.
BEHIND THE BOX SCORE
• Janelle Ward made five saves for the Hawks in the victory, while van Herwijnen made two for UMass.
• UMass held a 7-6 edge in shots, while the Hawks earned six penalty corners to four for the Minutewomen.
• Katy Benton appeared in her 91st career game on Saturday, setting a new program record. Benton has started every game the Hawks have played during her career on Hawk Hill.
— SJUHawks Field Hockey (@SJUHawks_FH) November 4, 2023
• Santi was named the Atlantic 10 Championship Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive tournament, and was joined on the All-Championship Team by Bitters, Sol Borensztein, Kate Crist, Maaike Gorissen, and Leigh James. Santi is just the second student-athlete to earn multiple A-10 Championship Most Outstanding Player honors.
The Hawks will learn their NCAA Tournament matchup on Sunday evening.
This news article originally appeared on sjuhawks.com.