By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is only one college team from Philadelphia still playing basketball.
The St. Joe’s women are still alive in the NCAA Tournament. On Tuesday night they will take on Connecticut in the second round up in Storrs. This comes after the 23-9 Hawks won their first round game on Sunday, beating Georgia, 67-57.
“It was an awesome feeling,” St. Joe’s senior guard Erin Shields tells KYW Newsradio. “You look around at the end of the game and you see a bunch of fans that came from St. Joe’s, and you’re just proud. You are proud to be a Hawk and you are proud to be at the NCAA Tournament. It’s something you dreamed of your whole life and to finally be there, it’s a great feeling.”
Shields led the way in the win for the Hawks with 18 points. She scored 14 of those points in the first half, hitting four three-pointers to really set the tone offensively.
“We knew we were going to be able to get her some looks if we set good screens,” St. Joe’s head coach Cindy Griffin tells KYW Newsradio. “She is so good at moving without the ball and any open look that she got (Sunday) we needed to take advantage of and she did.”
The win was the first in the NCAA Tournament for the Hawks since 2000.
“It’s one of the goals that we had set out earlier in the year,” Griffin says. “And to achieve that is a lot of satisfaction. Working so hard with the staff, and the players just working hard for this goal to get into the tournament and to win a game, and then see what the next game is going to bring.”
What it will bring is the #1 team in the land, 35-0 Connecticut, on their home floor.
“At this level you want to play with the best teams and UConn certainly is the best and they are the best for a reason,” Shields says. “So we’re going to give them our best shot (Tuesday) night and we’ll see what we can do.”
Griffin says it will be important against the Huskies to play possession-by-possession, not letting an explosive UConn team get on a roll.
“It is,” Griffin says. “And it certainly can get away from you, because watching film after film and looking at their scores, they haven’t had a close game. I think Baylor was the closest one (11 points). So you don’t have those Notre Dame match-ups that they had last year. Those games got away from people and why did they? That’s something that we’ve been studying and need to continue to do that over the next 24 hours and try and take those transition points away or minimize them as much as possible by taking care of the ball and taking better shots.”
St. Joe’s and UConn will tip-off at 7:00pm on Tuesday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.