WILMINGTON – Bella Julian drained five three-point shots in the first half as Padua opened up play in the Diamond State Classic with a 44-35 win over St. Joseph’s (N.Y.) on Dec. 27 at the St. E Center. Bishop Malooly took in the matinee from behind the Pandas’ bench.
Julian came out firing, hitting three of those triples in the first period, but that would be the only scoring for the Pandas during the opening eight minutes. Turnovers plagued Padua, and the Cougars, who were visiting from Brooklyn, turned them into points. Six players reached the scoreboard in the first, and they led, 13-9, after one.
Paige Kenton opened the scoring in the second quarter, connecting from three-point land, and after a steal, Julian fed a cutting Cam Scully in the lane to give Padua a one-point lead. That was the start of a 17-point quarter for the Pandas, who kept their turnovers to a minimum and held St. Joseph’s to two field goals and two free throws.
Julian kept the long-distance shooting going in the second, nailing her last two, and Rachel Delate also hit from behind the line.
Padua was held to six points in the third, but the team’s defense was stout, as the Cougars were just a point better. St. Joseph’s hung close throughout the game, but Padua made 10 of 16 free-throw attempts in the final quarter to stymie any comeback attempt.
Julian finished with 23 for Padua, which improved to 4-3. Scully added eight. The Pandas advance to the championship game of the New Castle Insurance Cup. They will play William Penn on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Raven Pitt led the Cougars with 15. They will meet Wilmington Friends on Thursday at 10:45 a.m.