On an emotion-filled day, the only fight the St. Ambrose women’s basketball team found itself involved with Saturday was the one they drew attention to off the court.
The Queen Bees cruised to a 70-57 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference victory over Calumet St. Joseph at Lee Lohman Arena, then joined members of the St. Ambrose football team and a full house in welcoming back to campus Mason Flynn.
Taking the semester off as he undergoes treatment for stage four Hodgkins lymphoma, the Bees’ sophomore football player and twin brother of women’s basketball player Charlotte Flynn received a standing ovation as he was surrounded by family members and St. Ambrose coaches Mike Magistrelli and Kristin Van Hauen during a postgame ceremony at mid-court.
“There are bigger things than the outcome of a basketball game and those are among the life lessons that we get a chance to teach. It was great to have Mason here and be able to show him that he isn’t in this fight alone,’’ Van Hauen said.
St. Ambrose players sold t-shirts and bracelets and conducted a gift card drive at the game to help the Flynn family.
Van Hauen said the personal connection made the Queen Bees’ annual cancer awareness game an emotional experience for her team as it took on an opponent still searching for its first conference win.
“It took us some time to get going, but once we settled into it, I felt like we played good basketball,’’ Van Hauen said. “The second and third quarters, particularly, we played the game we want to play.’’
St. Ambrose limited the Crimson Wave to 2-of-25 shooting in the middle two quarters of the game, allowing the Queen Bees to pull away from a 20-19 lead after a sluggish first quarter.
Calumet St. Joseph (5-20, 0-16 CCAC) scored the game’s first nine points, a run St. Ambrose answered with 12 straight points including a pair of 3-point baskets which sent Madi Epperson on her way to an 18-point performance.
Collecting 22 assists on 27 field goals, the Queen Bees opened a 38-23 lead by halftime and took a 60-31 lead into the final quarter, allowing Van Hauen to play reserves throughout the final quarter.
“That assist total, it tells me we are playing good team basketball and taking care of business against an opponent that we should beat,’’ Van Hauen said.
Off the bench, Colleen Grady finished with five points and an equal number of steals while Candace Finnin had 11 points for St. Ambrose (11-15, 9-7) while Katie Martin led the Crimson Wave with 15 points.