published Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Saint Joseph's beats Georgia 67-57 in first round

  • photo
    Georgia's Krista Donald, left, and Saint Joseph's Erin Shields, right, battle for the ball during their first-round game of the NCAA women's basketball tournament, Sunday, March 23, 2014, in Storrs, Conn.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

STORRS, Conn. — Erin Shields had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead ninth-seeded Saint Joseph's to a 67-57 win over eighth-seed Georgia in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday night.

Ashley Robinson added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who won in the tournament for the first time in 14 years. Natasha Cloud added 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Erika Ford had 16 points to lead Georgia, which finishes the season at 20-12. Merritt Hempe added 13 points and Krista Donald finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Hawks will play the either top-seeded UConn or Prairie View A&M in the second round Tuesday.

Saint Joseph's led by eight points at halftime and was up 42-32 early in the second half after a 3-pointer by Robinson.

But the Bulldogs got back into the game with a 14-4 run.

A foul shot by Merritt Hempe tied the game at 46, and a 3-point shot by Tiaria Griffin midway through the half gave Georgia a 50-49 lead.

That was the Lady Bulldogs only lead of the second half.

Hempe fouled on the other end after a made basket by Cloud, giving the ball back to Saint Joseph's. Robinson was then fouled and hit two free throws, part of a 10-0 run that put the Hawks back up by nine.

A jumper by Cloud made it 65-54 with less than 4 minutes left and Georgia could not mount another challenge.

The Hawks shot 46 percent from the floor and held Georgia to just 34 percent.

Saint Joseph's got off to a quick start, using a 10-4 run to take a 17-9 lead.

Georgia cut the deficit to three points on a jumper by Ford. But the Hawks scored the final five points of the half and took a 38-30 lead into intermission.

Shields had 14 first half points and was 4 of 6 from 3-point range, looking a lot more comfortable than she did a year ago on the same floor.

She was just 2 for 14 from during the Hawks' 2013 first-round loss to Vanderbilt, a game that also was played in Storrs.

Saint Joseph's was one of three Atlantic 10 teams in the tournament and the last one standing. Fordham, the conference tournament champion, lost by a point to California on Saturday. Dayton, the regular-season champion, lost to Florida on Sunday.

Cloud also had four assists Sunday, giving her 237 for the year, just four shy of the school's single-season record.

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