Women’s Basketball Falls to Duke in Sweet Sixteen

Women’s Basketball Falls to Duke in Sweet Sixteen

As the clock ticked under one minute in St. John’s Sweet Sixteen loss to Duke, Blue Devils guard Shay Selby dribbled out the shot clock before firing a three that was blocked by St. John’s freshman Briana Brown.

The ball bounced right back to Selby, who flipped it up as the shot clock expired.

It went in – a play that signified a night when nothing went the Red Storm’s way.

California native Chelsea Gray had 13 points and 8 steals and Selby scored 18 and dished out seven assists as the second-seeded Blue Devils (27-5) held third-seeded St. John’s (24-10) scoreless for more than eight straight minutes en route to a 74-47 rout.

Senior forward Da’Shena Stevens scored 19 points in the final game of her college career; leading scorer Shenneika Smith was held to six points on just 3-of-16 shooting, as the Johnnies missed out on a chance at a rematch with top-seeded Stanford.

“They forced us into a lot of turnovers, which led to a lot of easy baskets for them,” head coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “That kind of took us out of our game.”

Duke took control late in the first half. After a jumper by sophomore guard Keylantra Langley put St. John’s up 25-23 with 6:20 left in the first half, Duke went on a 17-0 run that stretched two minutes into the second half to go up 40-25. The Blue Devils went on a 12-6 spurt after Smith stopped the bleeding to put the game out of reach by the ten-minute mark.

St. John’s had jumped out to an early 15-7 lead on the back of Stevens. She scored 10 of the Johnnies first 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting, receiving help from McKenith, who had assists on two of those buckets, and McPherson, who had two steals in that period. But the Johnnies early storm didn’t faze Duke.

“At this point [in the season], you don’t get worried [about early runs],” Duke head coach Joanne McCallie said. “It’s part of the game.”

Stevens left the game with two fouls and the team up 15-13, and didn’t have the same impact when she came back. After her hot start, she scored nine points on 4-of-10 shooting to end her time at St. John’s.

In addition, the Blue Devils switched to a zone defense that frustrated the Johnnies offensively and compounded Stevens’ absence.

“Da’Shena’s our strength in the zone,” Barnes Arico said. “And when we don’t have her in there, it’s really difficult to score. She flashes … you guys saw how aggressive she was at the beginning of the game. And she’s really our go-to person in the zone – even when she’s not scoring, she opens up the floor.”

The loss puts a sour punctuation mark on perhaps the most successful season in program history. The Red Storm made the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season – ending Connecticut’s 99-game home win streak in the process – and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in program history.

“”It’s been the best season for the program, I think, in it’s history,” said Barnes Arico,the Big East Coach of the Year. “It’s kind of tough – if you don’t win the championship, you end on a losing note.”

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