Saint Peter's senior forward Jynae Judson says her team, when it plays to its capabilities, is capable of great things.
"When everything clicks we can be the best team in the MAAC," said Judson, after her team defeated Canisius, 62-57, while not even playing at its best in the first round of the conference's women's tournament Thursday afternoon. "If we're having a good day on offense and on defense no one can stop us."
The Peahens, now 5-25 overall, will have to be at their absolute best if they hope to advance further in this event. Their victory Thursday sends them to a showdown in today's quarterfinal round with top-seeded Marist at 1:30 p.m. All Marist has done is win the last nine regular-season titles and last six conference tournaments.
Against Canisius the Peahens were no where near their best, shooting 34.4 percent from the field. But, an athletic and effective defense forced the Golden Griffins into a game-deciding 26 turnovers while St. Peter's only committed 16 miscues.
Canisius, which finishes at 13-17 but losers in its last six games, held a 45-39 lead with just under eight minutes left in the game, but turned it over seven more times after that as the winners went on a 23-12 run to close it out.
Saint Peter's got a dagger three-pointer from forward Lauren Morris that gave it a 58-55 lead with about two minutes left.
Canisius closed it to within on e again, 58-57 on Kayla Hoohuli's jumper, but Judson drove hard to the basket to score to give the winnes a 60-57 edge and the Griffs proceeded to turn it over on the next three possessions to ensure they wouldn't get back into it.
Senior forward Quiana Porter led the winners with 13 points, while Morris and Judson added 13 and 12, respectively.
Hoohuli and Ashley Durham had 11 each for the Griffs, but Durham turned it over eight times in the game.
"This game is the same thing that caused us problems all year," said Canisius coach Terry Zeh. "We turned the ball over at an alarming rate. You turn it over 26 times and you're not going to win any game at any level."
Zeh said many of the turnover woes have come late in the season when a variety of injuries have forced players to sit out entirely or not be able to participate in practices.
"You don't improve by playing in games ... you get better in practice," said Zeh. "But we've had so few players available for practice since late January that we haven't been able to practice at a Division I intensity."