SFU women shoot lights out, clinch playoff berth

LORETTO – If hitting 3-pointers is a flu-like symptom, then St. Francis women’s basketball coach Joe Haigh may want his team to be sick every time it takes the floor.

The Red Flash hit a Northeast Conference record 17 3-pointers on their way to a 100-89 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Monday night at DeGol Arena – all while half of the team was battling the flu.

“You don’t anticipate that,” Haigh said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game because FDU was playing for their playoff lives. We gave up 89 [points] so we needed everything we got offensively.”

Kelley Doogan wasn’t sick, though, and she made sure that if this was her last home game wearing a St. Francis uniform, she was going out with a bang.

Doogan was 11-for-16 from the field, 5-of-6 from the free-throw line and connected on a team-record-tying eight 3-pointers on her way to a career-high 35 points.

“From the start of warm-ups, I was just feeling it,” Doogan said. “As a team, we have some people that were feeling under the weather today, so as a bench, we had to step up. I hit a couple of shots in the beginning and then – when you’re a shooter and you’re hitting them, you’ve just got to keep shooting.”

“It’s great to see Kelley, being a senior, finally having that one great game,” Haigh said.

Doogan had a chance to break the team’s single-game record with 41 seconds to go when the senior opted to attempt a 3-pointer instead of taking a one-on-one transition layup, but the shot rimmed out.

“I didn’t know [how many I had] until there was about two minutes left,” said Doogan, who joined Sami Allison (2001) and Allison Daly (2010) in the program’s record book. “I tried to pull up, but it rolled out. I probably should have went in for the lay-up, but I was hearing, ‘shoot the ball.'”

Also, with the win, the Red Flash (15-12, 10-6 NEC) clinched a postseason berth.

They are tied with – and hold the tiebreaker over – Monmouth for third place, one game ahead of Mount St. Mary’s.

“That’s the first goal out of the way,” Haigh said of qualifying for the playoffs. “The first hurdle is out of the way. Now we have two games left. We really want that third seed. The first goal is to get into the playoffs. The second is to get that home game for as long as you can get it.”

Alli Williams, Alexa Hayward and Brooklyn Taylor were the most noteable St. Francis players seeing limited action due to illness.

Williams still managed to score 11 points, but had her consecutive double-double streak snapped at 15 games. She had six rebounds and six steals.

Kia Gibbs recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists, and Aisha Brock scored 13 points to help fill the void.

Shene Fleming had eight points and nine rebounds.

As a team, St. Francis was 31-for-62 (50 percent) from the floor and 17-for-33 (52 percent) from long distance.

“It was just individual efforts,” said Haigh, whose team travels to Bryant and Central Connecticut State next weekend to close the regular season. “The way that we play – the pressure defense, the pressure offense – a lot of our offense relies on that 3-point shot to open up some other things for us.”

“Everyone that doesn’t get to play the starter minutes, it’s great to see them come in and have great contributions.”

Erika Livermore had a monster double-double of 36 points and 17 rebounds for the Knights (11-16, 6-10), while Danielle Pankey added 18 points.

But Fairleigh Dickinson coach Peter Cinella still couldn’t wrap his head around how successful St. Francis was.

“I knew St. Francis had some girls that were sick,” Cinella said, “but I thought it was amazing how they had some players step up. They played tremendous ball.

“They kept making shot after shot. They have a lot of depth and they used it today.”

The triple-digit finish was seemingly avoiding the Red Flash down the stretch.

Fairleigh Dickinson was trying to claw its was back into the game and kept sending St. Francis to the line, but the Red Flash were only 8-for-14 in the last 1:54.

Rhonda Watts put the Flash over the threshold with 2 seconds remaining on the back-end of her two-attempt trip to the line.

St. Francis was the first team to eclipse the century mark in an NEC contest since Quinnipiac scored 109 points against Mount St. Mary’s on Jan. 14, 2008.

The Red Flash were the last NEC team to break the 100-point mark overall when they lit up Kent State for 101 on Dec. 4, 2010.

SFU scored 98 points against Wright State earlier this season.

“They played hard. That’s all we could ask,” Haigh said. “To score 100 points is a bonus. It’s always fun to see because when I was a player, I would have been that last player on the bench hoping to score two points.”

FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (11-16, 6-10): Crawford 2-9 1-1 5, Thomas 2-4 0-0 4, Livermore 15-26 6-9 36, Cruz 4-12 0-0 8, Andrades 3-5 2-3 10, Grant 1-3 4-4 6, Coyne 0-0 0-0 0, Isaacs 0-4 0-0 0, Pankey 5-9 6-10 18, Cherubin 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 33-74 19-28 89.

ST. FRANCIS (15-12, 10-6): Fleming 4-10 0-3 8, Williams 3-8 2-4 11, Keegan 3-5 2-4 8, Gibbs 4-8 4-4 14, Hayward 0-1 3-4 3, Taylor 0-4 0-0 0, Brock 3-5 4-7 13, Sparks 1-1 0-0 2, Watts 2-3 1-2 6, Doogan 11-16 5-6 35, Phillips 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 31-62 21-35 100.

Halftime-St. Francis 48-41. 3-point goals-Fairleigh Dickinson 4-17 (Pankey 2-2, Andrades 2-3, Crawford 0-1, Grant 0-1, Livermore 0-2, Cruz 0-4), St. Francis 17-33 (Doogan 8-12, Brock 3-5, Williams 3-6, Gibbs 2-3, Watts 1-2, Hayward 0-1, Taylor 0-4). Fouled out-Grant, Gibbs. Rebounds-Fairleigh Dickinson 56 (Livermore 17), St. Francis 33 (Fleming 9). Assists-Fairleigh Dickinson 12 (Andrades 6), St. Francis 28 (Gibbs 10). Total fouls-Fairleigh Dickinson 26, St. Francis 23. A-461.