Joe Gorby, Sports Information Director
JOLIET – One year and one day after dropping a 31-point decision to then-No. 6-ranked Marian University (Ind.), the University of St. Francis women’s basketball team posted a 39-point swing to upset the NAIA No. 3 Knights 56-48 on Saturday (Nov. 7) at the Pat Sullivan Center. It also allowed the No. 16-ranked Saints to claim their own Catholic Classic, being the only team of the four competing to go 2-0.
Defense again fueled the win with head coach Steve Brooks‘ club holding the opposition under 50 points and creating 20-plus turnovers for the second straight day. After forcing 23 turnovers in a 48-47 win over University of Saint Francis (Ind.) on Friday night, the Saints coaxed 25 turnovers on Saturday. Jordan Pyle (JR/Traralgon, Australia) and Leah Sims (SR/Chicago, Ill.) accounted for 40 percent of the enforcement with six and four steals, respectively.
The Saints also turned things up a few notches defensively after a first quarter in which Marian shot 50 percent from the field (7-of-14) and 75 percent from three-point range (3-for-4) to take an 18-15 lead into the stop. The rest of the way USF’s defense never gave up more than 11 points in any one quarter and permitted just 11 field goals in 29 attempts (37.9 percent) in those last three frames.
Four ties and five lead changes told the story of the see-saw second quarter, which ended with the contest deadlocked at 26. Justene Charlesworth (JR/Wanatah, Ind.), who finished with a game-high 19 points, was a key contributor in the quarter, tallying seven of the Saints’ 11 points.
The junior guard also sparked a 16-4 burst out of the halftime gate that provided the Saints with their biggest lead of the afternoon (42-30) and one they would never relinquish the rest of the way. Included as part of building that 12-point advantage was an 8-0 run in the first three minutes of the third quarter with back-to-back baskets – including one trey – from Charlesworth.
Marian (2-1) did get as close as two points (48-46) in the closing 90 seconds before Sims delivered her fourth three-pointer of the game. The Saints then closed things out with five three throws in their final six attempts after hitting just seven of 14 foul line attempts up to that point.
Sims (12 points) joined Charlesworth in the double-figure scoring club as did Shadrian McDaniel (JR/Chicago, Ill.), who provided 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Pyle led the Saints on the boards with eight rebounds to go along with six points. Josie Graffeo (SO/Manteno, Ill.)contributed six rebounds and seven points.
Macy Willoughby was the only Marian player to score in double figures, totaling 15 points.
Comprising the 2020 USF Catholic Classic All-Tournament Team were Leah Sims and Justene Charlesworth of USF, Ella Collier and Macy Willoughby of Marian, Saint Francis’ (Ind.) Cassidy Crawford and Sidney Crowe, and Ella Diny of Cardinal Stritch.
The Saints (2-0) continue their season-opening six-game homestand on Tuesday when they face another ranked foe in No. 13 Clarke University (Iowa). Tipoff is set for 7 pm.