Lose only five times in 34 games and that’s a tremendous season for anyone. But lose four of those five times to the same team and you’re second-ranked Good Counsel, ready for a rematch with the squad, No. 6 St. John’s, that inflicted most of the damage to the Falcons’ 29-5 season in 2010-11.

It explains the excited fist pump by Good Counsel’s Faith Randolph after a key steal and layup late in a one-point game that gave her team momentum. It explains the ear-to-ear smile on Falcons junior guard Lindsey Spann’s face following their exciting 81-77 win over the Cadets on Friday night in Northwest Washington.

“It’s a great win for us,” said Randolph, an All-Met senior guard and Virginia recruit who lead her team with 23 points. “It’s a great boost for us. One of our goals was trying to beat some teams we hadn’t beaten last year. It’s a great boost.”

Randolph was crucial to the victory. She played 31 of 32 minutes, scored 15 points in the second half and played punishing defense. Randolph’s offensive aggressiveness down the stretch kept the Falcons (16-3, 9-0 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference) even with St. John’s as Falcons teammate Amanda Fioravanti (19 points) was limited with foul trouble.

Randolph took over at point guard at times and on defense was tasked with helping defend St. John’s All-Met guards Mooriah Rowser (20 points) and Lindsay Allen (17 points).

The St. John's student section erupts after a bucket and a foul late in the game. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

“I felt like I needed to pick my team up more and get more aggressive on offense and strap it down on defense,” Randolph said.

As the teams traded baskets through most of the fourth quarter, Randolph’s steal and layup with 1 minute 24 seconds left started a small run. The Falcons played tough defense and attacked the basket, drawing fouls and hitting from the free throw line to maintain the lead.

Spann (16 points), who said losing to St. John’s (13-5, 6-2) ate at her each time last winter, hit all six of her free throws in the final two minutes.

Immediately after the buzzer, Good Counsel players rushed toward each other, hugging and laughing. It’s rare to see teams pose for a photo after a regular-season win, but the Falcons had two reasons: Fioravanti broke the 1,000-point mark for her career at the Olney school, and the they ended their streak against the Cadets.

“I’m excited,” Spann said. “I love games like this. I’m just ready for the next one.”

The teams meet again Jan. 28.