New Haven, Conn. – Sophomore guard Jill Johnson (North Haven, Conn.) poured in a career-best 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting to lead the Albertus Magnus College women's basketball team past St. Joseph (Conn.), 89-66, on Thursday evening in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) action at The Nest inside the Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center.
The Falcons (4-3, 1-0 GNAC) won their conference opener for the first time under Head Coach JR Fredette (fifth season) and for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign, while the visiting BlueJays (2-4, 0-1 GNAC) dropped their third game in a row.
Johnson continued the torrid start to her second-year on campus, topping the 20-point plateau for the second time in the last three contests. She hit 7-of-8 from the free-throw line to go along with four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Junior guard KiKi Epps (Norwalk, Conn.) had her strongest game of the season, netting 18 points thanks to hitting all four of her shots from the charity stripe. Junior forward Olivia Bolden (South Windsor, Conn.) added 17 for the hosts on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting from the field and classmate Angelina Piccirillo (Naugatuck, Conn.) was the other Falcon in double figures with 11 points off the bench. Senior Liz Falcigno (Wallingford, Conn.) had a balanced game for the hosts, grabbing 10 boards to go along with six steals and four assists.
It was a balanced offensive attack for St. Joseph as three starters scored in double figures led by senior Carlee Putnam with 18 points. Putnam knocked down four shots from three-point range and added five steals for the guests. Kayla Guest hit a team-best seven shots from the field to net 16 points for USJ, while junior guard Rajeen Mayo poured in 14 on 5-of-10 shooting.
Albertus Magnus opened the game on a 6-0 run capped by a layup in transition from sophomore guard Deja Ward (Middletown, Conn.). During the early spurt, St. Joseph committed one turnover and missed its first three shots from the field. After an old-fashioned three-point play from BlueJay junior forward Kayla Guest made it a three-point game at 6-3, the Falcons ran off 11 straight points bookended by a lay in from Epps. With the hosts holding a 16-3 advantage with four minutes left in the first quarter, each squad netted 12 points to end the frame.
With the reserves on the floor, Albertus Magnus maintained a double-digit lead throughout most of the second frame. Johnson had eight points for the Falcons in the second, highlighted by hitting three free throws to close out the first half. The 5-6 shifty guard was fouled on a heave from near half court as time expired. Following the points from the charity stripe by Johnson, the hosts took a 43-25 lead into the break.
The Falcons blew the game open in the second half, stretching their lead to as many as 32 midway through the fourth following a trey from Piccirillo.
Albertus Magnus forced 26 BlueJay turnovers and turned them into 24 points in the triumph. The Falcons also controlled the glass, outrebounding the guests, 55-43.
Albertus Magnus returns to action on Saturday, December 3, with a road conference showdown against Saint Joesph's (Maine) that is slated to begin at 1:00 pm. Last winter, the Monks defeated the Falcons by 12 at home.