Hart, Storm fall to Cardinal

The St. John’s women’s basketball team entered its second-round NCAA tournament game against No. 1 Stanford looking to win in a place where, earlier this season, Connecticut could not.

But like the Huskies, the Red Storm suffered defeat, as the Cardinal won their 63rd consecutive game at Maples Pavilion, 75-49.

“Obviously I am disappointed our season came to an end, but it came to an end against one of the best teams in the country,” said head coach Kim Barnes Arico. “They are an excellent team. We ran out of gas a bit and they killed us on the

inside.  Then when we tried to take that away, they were able to knock down those three’s midway through the second half.”

The Red Storm carried an eight-point lead midway through the first half, but Stanford used its experience on its home floor to cut the deficit and take the lead to halftime.

“They have played some great teams here and won some tremendous basketball games,” Barnes Arico said. “So to keep that level of play and focus is really unbelievable and I think that is something our team learned from today. You can’t do it for 20 or 25 minutes.”

The Red Storm finished the season 21-11, their second-consecutive 20-win season. They were in the national rankings for 18-straight weeks during the year, reaching the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years for the first time since 1982-83 and 1983-84.

St. John’s led 22-14 with 9:47 left in the first half, but Stanford cut the lead to 26-22 and went on a 16-4 run to close out the half with an eight-point lead.

“We came out with a lot of energy and tried to limit them on their rebounds, second chance shots and they just got momentum going there and got it inside and hurt us inside,” said junior guard Da’Shena Stevens.  “Then when we tried to pack it in, they hit the open shots so it was hard to try to take something away.”

In the second half, Stanford outscored the Johnnies 37-19 and shooting 53.3 percent from the field. The Red Storm, on the other hand, shot 8-of-32 from the field in the second half, a 25 percent clip.

“It is hard to get a quality shot when you are not getting stops on the defensive end and the score was what it was,” said Stevens.  “Everyone was trying to get it back and fight, but it just wasn’t falling for us.”

Coco Hart, playing in her final collegiate game, led the Red Storm with 15 points and five rebounds. Stevens scored 11 points, and sophomore point guard Nadirah McKenith had 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.

“I feel like we took shots and they weren’t falling, but I don’t think a lot of them were bad shots, but a lot of them just weren’t falling,” said Hart.