By Matt Leon

By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –The St. Joe’s women’s basketball team has hit the ground running this season.

Fresh off an Atlantic 10 title and appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Hawks have picked right up where they left off last season. They are 8-1 heading into Tuesday night’s home game with Hofstra and coming off four straight impressive road wins – including city series victories at Temple (73-53 on Wednesday) and Villanova (63-60 on Saturday).

“I knew we had a solid group coming back,” St. Joe’s head coach Cindy Griffin tells KYW Newsradio. “It was just a matter of how well they were going to gel together early or late. Certainly, I expected maybe a little bit later but happily surprised that it is happening as we go along and very proud of our start this year.”

The Hawks are getting key contributions from a lot of players. Sophomore forward Sarah Fairbanks leads the team in scoring (15.7 points/game) and rebounds (6.9 a contest). Senior guard, and Archbishop Carroll product, Erin Shields is right behind her in scoring, pouring in 15.3 points a game and she comes into this game with Hofstra just 11 points shy of the 1,000 plateau for her career. Junior guard Natasha Cloud, who went to Cardinal O’Hara, was named both Big 5 and Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week, last week, after averaging a double-double (17.5 pts, 10.5 asts in addition to 6.5 rebs) in two games.

Hofstra is 4-3 on the season and coming off a win over UC-Davis on Saturday.

“They’ve had a very challenging schedule,” Griffin says. “They beat a team in our league, Fordham (77-64 on November 15th). They went to overtime with Virginia Tech (lost 77-72 on November 23rd), they’ve played Boston College (lost 80-63 on November 12th). They’ve played a lot of good teams so they are battle tested. They do put up a lot of points, they are high volume as far as scoring and they put a lot of pressure on you defensively. So it’s going to be a great game.”

Griffin says this is an important game because of how the schedule falls this year.

“This is our only home game in December,” Griffin says. “Even though we played this past week at two Big Five opponents places in Temple and Villanova, it was still an away game. This is our only home game in December, and I want to make sure that we win at home in December. Also going into the exam break with a win is very, very important.”

St. Joe’s and Hofstra will tip-off at 7:00pm at Hagan Arena.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.