Women’s Basketball Falls in Season Opener to Bonnies
The No. 25 St. John’s women’s basketball team was upset in its season opener by St. Bonaventure, 64-58, on Nov. 12 at Carnesecca Arena.
St. John’s was ahead by as many as 13 midway through the first half, but St. Bonaventure chipped away at the lead and finally overtook the Johnnies with two minutes left in the contest.
Juniors Shenneika Smith and Nadirah McKenith and redshirt sophomore forward Mary Nwachukwu left the game with injuries, which frustrated head coach Kim Barnes Arico.
“Every time one of them limped off, we had a pretty good lead,” said Barnes Arico. “By the time they went back in the game, we didn’t have a lead anymore so that significantly hurt us. Mary was doing a really good job for us, she comes out and then St. Bonaventure makes a run. Shenneika came out, St. Bonaventure makes a run. Nadirah comes out, St. Bonaventure makes a run. They are all banged-up, but they’d better learn to toughen up and play through it and not come out of the game when it counts.”
The Red Storm didn’t make a field goal after the 3:10 mark in the second half. St. Bonaventure tied the game at 57 with 2:21 remaining before they ultimately pulled away.
Barnes Arico pointed to the turnovers and fatigue as reasons for the loss.
“We got loose with the ball and we got fatigued,” she said, “We just got loose with the ball and we didn’t do a good enough job taking care of the ball down the stretch.”
Junior Eugeneia McPherson led the team with 15 points, while Smith and Nwachukwu contributed 12 and 10 points respectively.
“I got to the basket – they kept playing up on me,” said McPherson. “My shot was not falling early, but I still got to the basket and got fouled or dumped it off to my teammates.”
The Johnnies are currently playing without senior forward Da’Shena Stevens, who is still recovering from a knee injury suffered over the summer. She was the team’s second leading scorer last year with 11.8 points per game and is expected to make a return in December.
In Stevens’ absence, the team’s interior defense suffered, but Barnes Arico said it was a product of inexperience and would improve over time.
“Everybody thinks that we are returning a ton of experience. As far as experience goes, we are only returning Nadirah McKenith, Shenneika Smith, and Eugenia McPherson.” said Barnes Arico. “All the rest of our people inside are really young in terms of minutes played. Obviously, I think they are going to get better every single day, but interior defense is our point of emphasis and where we need to improve.”
Things are only going to get tougher for the Red Storm as they play what Barnes Arico called the toughest schedule of her career at St. John’s, including a matchup with defending National Champion and preseason No. 1 Baylor.
“From the beginning, we knew that we had a tough non-conference schedule.” said McPherson. “Even if we did win this game, as we should have, we still knew that it was going to be a tough road ahead of us. We all know that we need to work on our games and get better.”
The Johnnies look to get back on track on Nov. 16 when they take on La Salle at Carnesecca Arena.