St. Francis women’s hoops star scores 1,000th point
Sarah Benedetti became part of St. Francis College history after she scored her 12th point against Vermont University on Wednesday night, making her the 13th member of the women’s basketball program to score 1,000 points as a Terrier.
“It’s a great feeling,” Benedetti said. “It’s a great accomplishment, especially here at St. Francis. The group is pretty small, and it’s such a cool achievement. It’s nice to be up there among the better players.”
Unfortunately, the Terriers couldn’t pick up the win to make Benedetti’s accomplishment more exceptional due to their 63-61 loss to Vermont at home on Wednesday night.
However, it was still an exciting moment for the team, and head coach John Thurston called it a tribute to how much Benedetti has improved since arriving on Remsen Street.
“When she got here, all that she could do was shoot threes,” Thurston recalled. “Now she’s so much more than that. She’s improved her defense, her ability to drive the ball, she’s a leader on the court. It’s her all-around game that has allowed her to reach 1,000 points, and we’re very proud of her.”
Benedetti proved she can still shoot threes as she hit four in the first half to reach the milestone. Her fourth gave St. Francis a nine-point lead, its biggest lead of the night with 1:22 left in the half. St. Francis also got big threes from Eilidh Simpson and Katie Fox as it controlled the game in the first half.
The second half was a bit different. The threes stopped falling, and the Terriers couldn’t break through the Vermont defense. The teams eventually tied at 36-36, but after a back-and-forth second half, Vermont took a 57-55 lead with 4:07 left to play.
“We started to rely a little too much on the three pointer and shied away from our fundamentals,” Benedetti said. “When you do that and start missing, it makes it really tough. We needed to drive the ball more, and we couldn’t.”
Benedetti did have one last chance to make it a Hollywood ending during the final possession. St. Francis got the ball down by two with just 3.4 seconds left on the clock. Fox inbounded the ball to Benedetti, but her half-court shot missed going in by about a half-inch as time expired.
The loss was the third in a row for St. Francis and drops the Terriers to 3-7 overall on the season. As bad as that sounds, they have had to deal with various injuries and they still haven’t started their conference schedule so they are optimistic that their season will be turned around.
“It’s been tough and we’ve faced a lot of adversity, but that’s the kind of thing that makes you stronger as a team. Yeah, we haven’t had the greatest non-conference outcome, but I think it’s made us more determined as we get into conference and the wins really matter.”
The biggest hurdle St. Francis has faced so far, it has already overcome — the loss of Eilidh Simpson. Simpson suffered a bout of appendicitis last month and had to go in for surgery to address it. On Wednesday, a little more than two weeks after her hospital stint, she was back on the court.
“That’s one of the more courageous things I’ve seen,” Thurston said. “I spent the night with her in the hospital and two weeks later she is back on the court playing 35 minutes. There aren’t many kids who would even attempt that and it’s a testament to how big her heart is.”
St. Francis plays again on Saturday when it hosts Georgia Tech. The Terriers have just one more game after that before it opens its Northeast Conference portion of its schedule against Sacred Heart University in Connecticut on Jan. 3.
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