Saint Francis women ousted from WBI

LORETTO — Saint Francis’ Katie Reese took a perfect backdoor feed from Ace Harrison and hit an off balance shot off the glass with 7:40 left in the game.

Then, the whistle blew.

At this point, it could have been one of two calls: Either a tripping foul on Milwaukee and a chance for a 3-point play to tie the contest or a travel on the SFU guard.

Unfortunately, for the Red Flash the call went against them.

The Panthers took control from that point on as they increased their lead to double digits as Saint Francis was unable to swing momentum back in its favor in a season-ending 67-57 loss in the quarterfinal round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational on Sunday afternoon at DeGol Arena.

“We had the key play in the fourth quarter when Katie makes that layup and could have had a chance for the 3-point play to tie it, and we got a tough whistle,” Saint Francis coach Joe Haigh said. “Then they (Milwaukee) come down and hit a shot, so instead of being tied, we go down five. And, it’s just the way it happens … It was a tough whistle.”

Two weeks ago, SFU’s season seemingly came to an end in the Northeast Conference quarterfinals. However, after earning their second-ever bid to the WBI, the Red Flash earned the program’s first postseason victory on Thursday against Campbell, but on Sunday, the season came to a certain close with a 17-15 record.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee improved to 22-11 and advanced to the semifinals against UNC-Greensboro, an 87-84 winner over Brown.

“I think that was getting her (Reese) going too. She’s not used to shooting the percentages that she was shooting either,” Milwaukee coach Kyle Rechlicz said. “So, when she put herself in a position to hit that shot, I was a little worried that that was going to put her in a momentum of moving forward and really starting to knock down some shots.

“I think it (the travel call) did. It gave us a little bit of the momentum, it gave us a little of confidence on the back end and I thought we started breaking the press a lot better after that.”

After the call against Reese, the Panthers responded with a layup by Kelsey Cunningham before Reese came right back down the floor and hit a layup of her own just 12 seconds later to pull the Flash back to within three (47-44).

Milwaukee owned the rest of the game as it closed it out with a 20-13 run.

SFU kept attacking the basket and only trailed by a 57-51 score after the Panthers’ Steph Kostowicz, who tied Jamie Reit for a team-high 15 points and also pulled down 11 rebounds, made the first of two free throws with 3:57 remaining.

However, after Saint Francis’ Jess Kovatch, who fronted all scorers with 17, missed from 3-point range Reit came up with the defensive rebound.

The Panthers, who crushed the Red Flash on the glass by a 50-32 margin, were able to milk the clock down and grab two straight offensive rebounds to run a minute off before Kostowicz made good on two foul shots after being fouled.

“Those are big things that you have to come up with to win playoff games. We’ve had a hard time with that all year,” Haigh said. “… That is something that’s been a weakness of ours all year. We needed those two rebounds that would have helped us.”

Milwaukee went 7-of-8 from the charity stripe down the stretch to pull away from the Flash and grab its largest lead of 12 (67-55) on two free throws from Reit with 28.1 left.

“That (going to the offensive glass) was our mentality,” Rechlicz said. “We started the game off only sending a couple to the boards because of how fast they were. But toward the end of the game we actually stuck another one on the offensive rebounds because we knew if we could control the possession on the offensive end, they couldn’t get off quick 3s.”

Harrison, who finished with a double-double of 15 points and a game-high 12 boards, converted a layup to set the final.

Reese also reached double figures with 10 points as Saint Francis managed to shoot just 31-percent from the field and 18-percent from 3-point range.

“It’s unfortunate, we didn’t shoot the ball well. We had plenty of looks,” Haigh said. “It’s just a game we lost. We played a good team — it’s in the postseason. They shot the ball better than we did.”

Jenny Lindner tallied 12 points for Milwaukee, which shot 37 percent from the floor and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

“We played well. I’m proud of them for what we accomplished this year,” Haigh said.

MILWAUKEE (22-11): Kostowicz 5-7 5-7 15, Farley 1-4 2-2 5, Lindstrom 1-5 2-2 5, Lindner 4-13 4-4 12, Ford-Washington 3-13 1-2 7, Hayes 0-0 0-0 0, Reit 5-8 2-2 15, Cunningham 2-5 2-2 6, Two Bears 0-1 0-0 0, Swan 0-0 0-0 0, Wakeman 0-0 0-0 0, Odegard 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 22-59 18-21 67.

SAINT FRANCIS (17-15): Harrison 5-14 5-6 15, Zezza 0-5 0-0 0, Reese 2-10 6-6 10, Wynn 3-8 0-0 7, Kovatch 7-19 0-0 17, Allison 1-1 1-2 3, Carroll 0-1 0-0 0, Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Falvey 2-3 0-0 5, Bethel 0-3 0-2 0. Totals: 20-64 12-16 57.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Milwaukee 15 9 19 24 — 67

Saint Francis 4 21 13 19 — 57

3-point field goals: Milwaukee 5-18 (Reit 3-5, Farley 1-3, Lindstrom 1-4, Ford-Washington 0-1, Two Bears 0-1, Odegard 0-2, Lindner 0-2); Saint Francis 5-27 (Kovatch 3-10, Falvey 1-2, Wynn 1-4, Zezza 0-1, Carroll 0-1, Harrison 0-3, Reese 0-6). Rebounds: Milwaukee 50 (Kostowicz 11); Saint Francis 32 (Harrison 12). Assists: Milwaukee 11 (Lindstrom, Ford-Washington, Cunningham 2 each); Saint Francis 8 (Harrison 4). Blocks: Milwaukee 1 (Lindner); Saint Francis 6 (Zezza 4). Steals: Milwaukee 7 (Ford-Washington, Odegard 2 each); Saint Francis 10 (Harrison 4). Turnovers: Milwaukee 20; Saint Francis 13. Total fouls: Milwaukee 17; Saint Francis 19. Fouled out: Zezza. Technicals: none.

A: 443.

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