Defense has St. Joseph's women in the Atlantic Ten hunt

Posted: January 24, 2012

"Who are those guys?"

In the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, that's the question Butch keeps repeating when the crafty outlaws are unable to shake the authorities.

That may be the same question Atlantic Ten teams are asking about the St. Joseph's Hawks, who are among the front-runners in the crowded chase for the regular-season title.

The individual statistics for coach Cindy Griffin's team aren't too revealing.

Senior Kelly Cavallo is fourth in rebounding with an 8.4 average, but the Hawks are 11th in differential among the 14 conference teams with a negative-1.1 average. That means opponents have a slight edge on the boards.

Yet St. Joseph's, at 13-5 overall and 3-1 in the A-10, is tied with Temple (10-8, 3-1) for fourth place. They are a half-game behind Dayton (12-5, 4-1) and Charlotte (12-7, 4-1), and 11/2 games behind conference leader St. Bonaventure (18-2, 5-0).

"We're playing terrific defense, and, yeah, we may be struggling offensively at the moment, but we're finding ways to win and we're making big plays at the right time," Griffin said.

That was true last week when the Hawks picked up narrow wins over Fordham in overtime and Xavier to stay among the conference front-runners.

St. Joseph's hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2000, but it can catch the selection committee's attention by winning Wednesday night at St. Bonaventure and then beating Duquesne at Hagan Arena on Saturday.

Commuting to work. Penn coach Mike McLaughlin, a Father Judge graduate, didn't say whether the decision was driven by the weather, but the Quakers took the subway from their West Philadelphia campus to their game Saturday at Temple in North Philadelphia.

The concept isn't new in town - the Temple men recently took the Broad Street Line to the Wells Fargo Center for their game against Duke.

"We wanted to give our kids the chance to experience local culture," McLaughlin said with a smile.

Sophomore Meghan McCullough of Havertown and the Academy of Notre Dame is the only player with local ties on Penn's roster.

Drawing a crowd. The Drexel-Delaware game Sunday in Newark was the second time the two teams played in front of a sellout crowd.

In addition to the Delaware record of 5,000 at the Bob Carpenter Center, Drexel had its only sellout two years ago when the Blue Hens visited the Daskalakis Center with then-freshman sensation Elena Delle Donne.

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