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Atlantic 10 WBB: Saint Joseph’s healthy and ready to protect home court

Pittsburgh, PA — Not much has been easy for Saint Joseph’s this season, but enough was done to secure a home game Tuesday night against VCU.

“It’s definitely been a journey, there is no question about it, there wasn’t a clear path to where we got to,” Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said. “It was up and down but once we got into conference play we started to play really well but then we got some injuries and so we had to sustain that. We didn’t have (Chelsea) Woods for five games, we lost four of those five games but I do think it helps that some of the other kids have a step up, certainly we didn’t win those games, but they got pretty good experience in these games and I think that is starting to pay off now and it can pay off if we are able to move forward with the tournament.”

Saint Joseph’s is coming off a two-point win at Fordham but Griffin is looking for more from her team come Tuesday.

“We’re coming off of a grinding game with Fordham and then it was a grinding game against George Washington and we didn’t win,” said Griffin. “I am looking forward to us playing well together and getting our three-point shooters some action. We haven’t taken a lot of threes in the last couple of games and haven’t made many. We want to continue to share the ball but we also want to share the scoring. Everyone needs to be able to contribute to do that from all five spots. We have to show up and perform.”

Earlier in the season, Saint Joseph’s had to deal with several injuries that had an effect, but on the first full game back together, the Hawks won by a decisive 69-50 contest.

“The big thing for us is that it was playing bigs with Woods at the three and the question was if she could be as effective and against certain teams yes but certain teams no,” Griffin said. “We have been able to move her around and she has played a couple of different positions for us and be effective. That was the big question because she came off the bench and was sixth player of the year and (Sarah) Veilleux as well. Our bench wasn’t deep but it ended up getting a little stronger because they had to play primary roles. I think we have a lot of the pieces that are needed to be able to compete for a championship.”

Saint Joseph’s played VCU twice in the regular season winning at home but narrowly lost on the road still, with some injuries still very much affecting the Hawks at that point in time.

“They’re familiar with VCU being the third time we’re playing them,” said Griffin. “Confidence going into the game. This is basically the same group that made it to the semifinals last year so the goal always has been to beat last season’s team record. I think the confidence level is very high. It’s go time, it’s now or never, so we will find out very quickly if we’re ready.”

Another benefit for Saint Joseph’s in the Fordham matchup was the competitive nature when it came to battling for rebounds. VCU takes a lot of pride in its offensive rebounding ability which means Griffin is hoping her Saint Joseph’s team is able to carry Saturday’s performance onto Tuesday night.

“Fordham is a great rebounding team and I think we really battled very well,” Griffin said. “If we have that same mentality that they get one shot and it is contested it does not give the opponent any extra possessions and this time of year those extra possessions are very important.”

Zachary Weiss has had a 10 year journalism career, with the past three mainly focusing on Duquesne Athletics and the Atlantic 10.