Smith And McKenith Take Over As Johnnies Earn OT Win

The St. John’s women’s basketball team edged out Sugar Rodgers and Georgetown University with a 76-72 effort that extended into overtime on Saturday.

After tying the game with 20 seconds left in regulation, the Red Storm (11-10, 5-4) were able to break away from the Hoyas (13-10, 4-6) in overtime.

Shenneika Smith recorded 26 points in 45 minutes of play and Nadirah McKenith recorded 16 points, 12 assists, and 8 rebounds, two shy of a triple-double.

“We need them to be good leaders and they’ve done that,” St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella said. “Together they are much stronger than they are as individuals.”

McKenith started the game aggressively, being credited with an assist to Smith and later powering to the basket to tie the game early at 7-7.

The remainder of the half served as a testament of the chemistry between Smith and McKenith. Following a defensive rebound, the point guard was able to find Smith and give her an easy shot at the basket to give the Johnnies a 27-23 lead with two minutes remaining in the half. McKenith again was able to find Smith in the paint shortly after a St. John’s turnover and Smith converted a mid-ranged jumper.

“Four years in the making,” Smith said. “As a point guard, Nadirah knows where the players are on the court. Hopefully we can continue this chemistry and go further.”
The Johnnies were able to put up a couple more points from free throws to walk into half time with a 34-25 advantage.

Smith and Mckenith continued to feed off of each other as the second half progressed. With 7 minutes remaining McKenith was able to find Smith unguarded and delivered a ball that met her in the air, which Smith was able to bank in, giving St. John’s a 10 point lead.

Sugar Rodgers, the second leading scorer in the NCAA, took control of the game from there, scoring 11 points and delivering an assist to give Georgetown a 65-63 lead with less than 40 seconds to play.
Smith answered 17 seconds later as she was able to power to the basket, forcing the game into overtime.

The Red Storm were able to pull away from the Hoyas in overtime thanks to another McKenith-to-Smith play and two clutch shots from beyond the arch from Briana Brown, giving them an unassailable 76-72 lead.

“They really came together and this is a very big first step for us,” Tartamella said. “We couldn’t be prouder of Smith and McKenith and the entire group.”

St. John’s next game will be on Tuesday when they travel to Tampa to tackle the USF Bulls.