Williams totals 47 in Red Flash win
LORETTO – St. Francis’ Alli Williams was playing her final regular-season game in virtually her backyard.
The Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic product kept her team going in the first half with 24 points when her teammates couldn’t find the bottom of the net.
She capped the night off with 23 points after the break, and in the process established a new school single-game scoring record with 47, while also pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds, as the Red Flash turned a close game into a blowout victory over Wagner, 101-75, in the regular-season finale of Northeast Conference play on Monday night at DeGol Arena.
“When I see my teammates not hitting shots, I don’t really get too upset because I know they’ll eventually fall,” Williams said. “They [Wagner] really didn’t have anyone that could guard me. It was kind of a mismatch either way. I just took advantage of that. As a senior, I tried to carry my team.”
The win locked up the third seed for the Flash as they end the year at 13-16 overall and 11-7 in NEC play. SFU will battle sixth-seeded Sacred Heart, a team the Flash split with during the season, on Sunday at home at a time to be determined.
Wagner (9-20, 8-10), the seventh seed, will travel to Mount St. Mary’s.
“I’m really, really happy for our team We played two of our better games of the year [this weekend],” St. Francis coach Joe Haigh said. “For Alli, obviously, to end your [regular season] career on a night like tonight and to get the all-time record, it’s awesome. It’s great for her – she deserves it.”
The Seahawks’ last lead of the half came with 6:20 to go in the first stanza when Jackie Dluhi scored to give Wagner a 31-27 lead.
The Red Flash seized control of the contest that had four ties and eight lead changes through the first 20 minutes.
SFU went on a 12-0 run keyed by a defense that forced five turnovers – leading to six points points – that had the Flash up 39-31 at the 3:30 mark following an inside hoop by Corissa Archer.
Willliams, the NEC player-of-the-year candidate, finished with six rebounds, two steals and two blocks in addition to her 24 points as St. Francis led 45-41.
“She kept us in the game in the first half when we were really struggling,” Haigh said. “Then we started playing as a team again, playing with confidence in the second half,” Haigh said. “It felt like everybody that came in [the game] contributed and made a positive contribution to the game.”
Jordyn Peck’s 14 kept the Seahawks close as both teams shot over 43-percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.
The Seahawks wasted little time climbing back into the game as opened with an 8-3 run that gave them the lead, 49-48, with 16:41 on the clock on a basket by Peck.
Williams buried a 3-pointer from the top just eight seconds later that gave the Red Flash the lead for good.
Alexa Hayward, who was having trouble hitting from the outside, starting finding room to drive as she scored seven of her team’s next nine points to increase the SFU lead to 61-49 with 12:05 left to play.
“Number one [Nwajei] wasn’t fouling because she’s the head of the team, and she needs to be smart and stay in the game for them,” Hayward said. “Really [I was] just attacking at her, knowing that she can’t foul is something that made me more comfortable.”
Down nine (63-54), Wagner’s Jasmine Nwajei, who finished with 14 points, went on her own 6-0 run to cut the lead to 63-60 with 10:04 remaining in the game.
The Seahawks would get no closer the rest of the way as Shaqeia Stokes capped off a 10-3 Red Flash run with the last six points to run the lead to 73-63 with 7:54 left.
“I thank my teammates because they did a good job of getting me the ball in mismatches,” Stokes said. “We were excited, the bench was excited. Everybody was just ready to play.”
St. Francis would outscore Wagner, 28-12, the rest of the way as Williams accounted for 19 of those points.
Williams closed out her regular season career in style by putting in 15 of the last 17 for the Flash.
The senior surpassed her own previous career-high of 40 when she connected on a free throw following a technical foul on Wagner’s Nwajei at the 2:51 mark.
She then bested former St. Francis star, Jess Zinobile’s old scoring mark of 46 when she drained a triple from the top right side with 1:57 ticks left.
Bridget Murphy knocked in a jumper at the 42.2 mark to set the final.
Peck delivered 28 points to front the Seahawks, while Nwajei also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Hayward concluded the matchup with 18 points, while Stokes registered a career-high 16 points.
Wagner coach Lisa Cermignano failed to show up for the press conference following the game.
WAGNER (9-20, 8-10): Amorosa 1-3 0-0 3, Nwaigwe 1-1 2-2 4, Nwajei 6-22 2-4 14, Hamlet 3-7 0-0 8, Peck 11-23 2-2 28, Wade 0-0 0-0 0, Blais 3-4 0-0 7, Rowe 2-4 1-1 6, Dluhi 1-3 0-0 2, Conyers-Jordan 0-3 1-2 1, Butigian 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 29-73 8-11 75.
St. FRANCIS (13-16, 11-7): Archer 4-5 0-0 8, Williams 15-25 13-20 47, Keegan 3-3 2-4 8, Brock 0-6 0-0 0, Hayward 6-20 5-6 18, Taylor 0-3 0-0 0, Stokes 6-9 4-5 16, Allison 0-1 0-0 0, Murphy 2-9 0-0 4, Phillips 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 36-81 24-35 101.
Halftime, St. Francis, 45-41. 3-point field goals: Wagner 9-30 (Peck 4-9, Hamlet 2-3, Rowe 1-1, Blais 1-2, Amorosa 1-3, Dluhi 0-1, Conyers-Jordan 0-1, Butigian 0-2, Nwajei 0-8); St. Francis 5-26 (Williams 4-8, Hayward 1-10, Brock 0-3, Murphy 0-3, Taylor 0-1, Allison 0-1). Assists: Wagner 13 (Nwajei 5); St. Francis 16 (Hayward 6). Rebounds: Wagner 46 (Nwajei 11); St. Francis 51 (Williams 14). Total fouls: Wagner 24, St. Francis 16. Fouled out: Amorosa. Technicals Nwajei.
Officials: Kevin Pethtel, Frank Steratore, Diana DePaul