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Red Flash outshoot Wisconsin

MADISON, Wisc. — Senior guard Katie Reese scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, including seven points in a 10-3 run to close the game, to lead the Saint Francis women’s basketball team to a 103-100 win at Wisconsin on Sunday at the Kohl Center.

The Red Flash earned a big win in its season opener for its second win over a Big Ten team in program history. Saint Francis defeated Penn State, 74-69, on Nov. 28, 2006.

“This is an awesome win for our program,” Saint Francis coach Joe Haigh said. “It’s really, really tough to get a win against a Big Ten team — especially in a true road game. I’m so happy for and proud of our team for the way we played today. We really did a great job of handling adversity and defending tough down the stretch.”

Saint Francis reached the 100-point mark for the sixth time under Haigh. However, it’s the first time the Red Flash has ever topped the century mark in a season opener.

Sophomore guard Jessica Kovatch led SFU with 29 points on 9-of-20 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Reese tallied 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting and also had four 3’s. Graduate transfer Ace Harrison had 13 points and nine rebounds in her SFU debut, while junior guard Maya Wynn added 12 points, all from 3-point range, and six boards.

Saint Francis shot 44 percent from the field and hit 15 3s. The Red Flash forced 25 turnovers by the Badgers, with SFU collecting 11 steals and getting 29 points off turnovers.

“We were able to win the game playing Saint Francis basketball,” Haigh said. “We played 98 or 99 possessions, and I think Wisconsin got fatigued down the stretch. We also made couple big 3-point shots and scored in transition in that last 3 and a half minutes when we outscored them 10-3.”

Wisconsin made 43 percent of its shots. The Badgers hit five 3s, but converted on only 58 percent of its free throw attempts (21-of-36). Cayla McMorris led Wisconsin with 31 points, on 12-of-22 shooting, and seven rebounds. Courtney Fredrickson contributed 18 points and six boards, while Avyanna Young recorded a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

In a game that featured 10 ties and 21 lead changes, Saint Francis got the game’s last big run. Trailing 97-93 with 3:27 remaining, a layup by Reese sparked a 10-3 run. A free throw by Kovatch brought SFU within one, 97-96, with 2:16 to go.

After a free throw by McMorris, Reese responded with a 3 to put SFU ahead, 99-98, with 1:58 left. A layup by Samiah Bethel gave SFU a three-point advantage and Reese extended to lead to 103-98 on a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left. A jumper by McMorris brought the Badgers within three with 10 seconds left. The Badgers then forced a turnover, but Gabby Gregory could not get a 3-pointer to go in at the buzzer as Saint Francis held on for the win.

The Badgers led 21-17 after the first quarter. However, the Red Flash cut a 19-9 deficit to just four with an 8-2 run to close the quarter. Wynn hit two 3s during the run, with Kovatch adding a jump shot. Harrison had five points in the quarter and Bishop Guilfoyle graduate Halee Adams added a 3-pointer. SFU shot just 25 percent from the floor, but forced seven turnovers. Wisconsin got 10 points in the quarter off free throws.

The Red Flash rode the momentum from the late first quarter run to a 50-45 advantage at halftime, outscoring the Badgers 33-24 in the second quarter. SFU shot 55 percent in the quarter (11-of-20) and hit five-of-nine 3-point attempts. The Red Flash had three different 6-0 runs in the quarter. Kovatch scored 12 points in the frame to finish with 14 in the half, while Katie Reese connected three times from 3-point range to go into halftime with 12 points and three assists. Harrison had nine points and five boards, while Wynn had six points and five rebounds.

A layup at the buzzer gave Saint Francis an 80-79 lead at the end of the third quarter. The Red Flash withstood an 8-0 run by the Badgers early in the quarter. Eight different SFU players scored in the quarter, with Kovatch hitting three times from 3-point range and Wynn hitting a pair of 3s.

A back-and-forth start to the fourth quarter featured four lead changes and two ties before Saint Francis’ 10-3 run to close the game. The Badgers held two four-point leads and a five-point lead all in the last five minutes, but Reese’s 11 points helped the Red Flash to stay within reach and take back the lead.

The Red Flash will head to Milwaukee to take on Marquette on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Al McGuire Center. The Golden Eagles won their opener, 87-37, over Longwood on Friday.

SAINT Francis (103): Kovatch 9-20 7-9 29, Reese 9-16 5-6 27, Harrison 6-9 1-2 13, Wynn 3-12 0-0 9, Allison 2-2 0-0 6, Bethel 2-5 2-4 6, Smith 2-4 0-0 5, Zezza 2-8 1-3 5, Adams 1-6 0-0 3, Totals 36-82 16-24 103.

Wisconsin (100): McMorris 12-22 5-6 31, Fredrickson 6-18 5-6 18, Young 7-18 3-8 17, Gregory 5-7 0-0 12, Howard 4-6 1-3 9, Johnson 2-4 5-5 9, Marble 1-4 0-2 2, Gilreath 0-1 1-2 1, Van Leeuwen 0-3 1-4 1, Shaw 0-3 0-0 0, Totals 37-86 21-36 100.

St. Francis (Pa.)    17    33    30    23    –103

Wisconsin    21    24    34    21    –100

3-Point Goals–St. Francis (Pa.) 15-44 (Kovatch 4-11, Reese 4-7, Wynn 3-11, Allison 2-2, Adams 1-5, Smith 1-2, Bethel 0-1, Harrison 0-2, Zezza 0-3), Wisconsin 5-13 (Gregory 2-3, McMorris 2-4, Fredrickson 1-3, Gilreath 0-1, Marble 0-1, Van Leeuwen 0-1).  Assists–St. Francis (Pa.) 18 (Reese 7), Wisconsin 12 (Marble 3).  Fouled Out–St. Francis (Pa.) Harrison, Smith, Wynn,  Rebounds–St. Francis (Pa.) 42 (Harrison 9), Wisconsin 61 (Young 15).  Total Fouls–St. Francis (Pa.) 30, Wisconsin 19. A–3,013.

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