WASHINGTON, D.C. – Catholic University women's basketball head coach Matt Donohue coached in his 500th career game on Saturday. However, his 501st will always be more special.
Junior Megan Stafford scored 14 points to lead a balanced scoring attack in the Cardinals' 67-44 victory over Neumann to win the championship of the Jamie Lynn Roberts Tournament presented by Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Washington D.C./Downtown on Sunday.
Junior Sydney Poindexter , who was named tournament MVP, contributed 12 points, five rebounds and four steals to help the Cards (7-4) win their second-straight tournament title.
Stafford was also named to the all-tournament team after connecting on 7 of 11 shots Sunday and adding eight boards and three steals. Sophomore Maggie Rakowsky rounded out the double-digit scoring with 11 points and eight rebounds. Junior Mollie Reynolds produced eight points, four rebounds and four assists.
Donohue was pleased with the balanced scoring in his club's third win in a row.
"We don't have a superstar on this team," the 11th-year Cardinal mentor said. "What we have is a lot of great young women who are very talented, play together and play to each other's strengths."
The Jamie Lynn Roberts Tournament carries special meaning for Donohue. Named in honor of one of his former assistant coaches, Jamie was a selfless person whose kindness and zest for living touched everyone she met. Her life came to a tragic end at age 24 in June 2014 when she was killed while biking across the country in support of cancer research.
This is the fifth tournament played in her honor.
"She was such a special person," Donohue said. "What's been great is that we've been able to share her legacy with our current players and who she remains today. They've taken that to heart. Whenever we step on the floor, we're not just playing for ourselves. We're playing to celebrate Jamie's memory and that deserves our best effort."
"So, it's always special when we can get the job done."
The t-shirts presented to the four participating teams came in orange, Jamie's favorite color. Donohue was wearing an orange tie Sunday and has, for more than four years, worn an orange bracelet to remember her.
Donohue's office is covered with reminders of the former St. Mary's (Md.) three-sport star who, as a Catholic assistant, contributed to the Cardinals' first two Landmark Conference championships in 2012 and 13 and a 2014 ECAC Southern Region title.
"I think it's important to think about her every day because, at the end of the day when things get stressful and they get tough, we're coaching a game," Donohue said. "It should always be fun. She was all about celebrating life and embracing life."
"I think we need those reminders in tense moments that we should have fun and be excited about what we're doing."
Jamie would have been proud of Catholic's defensive effort against the Knights. The Cardinals forced 25 turnovers and limited Neumann to 26 percent shooting. Offensively, Catholic was especially dominant in the paint, outscoring their Atlantic East Conference opponent, 34-12.
Nafisa Saunders, who scored a tournament-best 32 points Saturday for Neumann (7-5), had 15 more Sunday. The 5-foot-7 senior guard also had nine boards and five assists. Mariah Maciejewski scored six points to go along with a game-high 10 rebounds. Both players earned All-Tournament honors.
St. Joseph's College Brooklyn won the third-place game with a 67-44 victory over Wesley College. The Bears' Victoria Porcasi and Wesley's Shelby Johnson were named all-tournament.
Catholic returns to action on Wednesday, January 2 when it welcomes Swarthmore for a nonconference contest at Franny Murray Court beginning at 3 p.m.