WARWICK â€” Six days away from basketball did very little to slow down St. Raphael on Wednesday afternoon.
The Saints maintained its hold on the top spot in the Division II-Central standings with an easy victory on the road over two-win Pilgrim. Senior Lauren Gaj and sophomore Kaylee Oliver led the way offensively in a 60-31 triumph that was said and done by halftime.
The Saints were taking the court for the first time since their 12-point win at Lincoln last Wednesday. They didnâ€™t practice the following day, and the weekendâ€™s blizzard kept the players out of school until yesterday and wiped out a league game against Classical and a chunk of their practice schedule.
â€śYou can definitely tell that we were excited to get out here and start playing,â€ť said SRA head coach Fred Saunders, whose team is 11-1 in league play and a half-game better than runner-up Moses Brown (11-2) in the standings. â€śIâ€™m very happy with my teamâ€™s effort. I just want our heads in the right direction as we begin to make our playoff push.â€ť
Actually, it did take the Saints a few minutes to get going against the Pats, but after Gaj put in a layup with 11:26 on the clock to give the Saints a 5-4 lead -- their first of the day -- they proceeded to rattle off the next 10 points.
After the Pats got back on the board with a jumper, the Saints used another 10-point run to make it a 25-9 game, a run that was capped by back-to-back three-pointers by Oliver.
And the Saints had one more 10-point run in their system. It came in the final 1:45 of the half and allowed them to soar into the break with a 43-12 command.
The second half basically belonged to the Saintsâ€™ bench, and no player ended up playing more than 22 minutes in the game.
Gaj ended her afternoon with 15 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, and Oliver, the first player to come off the bench, nailed four three-pointers in the final nine minutes of the first half and finished with a career-high 14 points that also included five assists.
Rybecca Gonzalez also had a solid game with nine points, six rebounds, and four assists, and Kelsy Lynch came off the bench to add eight points and some solid play on the glass.
The Saintsâ€™ road trip continues on Friday with a 7 p.m. game against Mount Pleasant, and next Tuesday night, they are back on the road for arguably one of their biggest games of the regular season, a 6:30 p.m. matchup against Moses Brown.
â€śMoses Brown is going to be a tough game,â€ť remarked Saunders, whose team beat them back on Jan. 11 at home. â€śThey challenged us the last time we played them and we know theyâ€™re going to give us another tough game.â€ť