The St. John’s women’s basketball team won its third straight game when it beat Hartford, 70-45, at Carnesecca Arena on Dec. 4.
Freshman forward Amber Thompson recorded her first career double-double, finishing with 19 points and 13 rebounds to help the Red Storm (5-3) pull away in the second half against the Hawks.
“I thought I was playing good [against Hartford] but I still think I could have played even harder than I was playing,” said Thompson. “I missed some little chippies but I feel like I was going good and my teammates were helping me out. They kept talking to me throughout the game so that kept my mind up and my motivation.”
The Hawks kept it close throughout the first half and had the game to within five points on a Cherelle Moore jumper with 1:17 left in the half. But two free throws by junior guard Eugeneia McPherson and a buzzer-beating three-pointer from
sophomore guard Keylantra Langley put the Johnnies ahead by 10, 35-25.
The Johnnies lead by double digits for the rest of the game. They were able to capitalize on the interior, pulling down 22 offensive rebounds and scoring 20 second chance points. Thompson had nine offensive rebounds, which was as many as the entire Hartford team had.
“I was really happy with our effort tonight and I think that everyone can see that we are improving, even though we are still very young,” said head coach Kim Barnes Arico. “It is a process. We are getting better and better. Hartford is a quality team, a consistent NCAA Tournament team. So this was a good win for us tonight and we played really well and we played hard throughout.”
Thompson has been filling in for injured senior Da’Shena Stevens in her first season at St. John’s. She’s averaged 7.8 points and 6.5 rebounds on the year playing in the post.
“[Thompson] has just tremendous upside but we knew it was going to be a tough year, a transition year playing at
this level,” said Barnes Arico. “We thought with backing up Da’Shena she would have a chance to get her feet wet a little bit and let things come to her a little bit easier then they have. But we had to stick her in the fire right away without Da’Shena, and she has had some ups and downs, but tonight you saw what she was capable of.
“I think she’s going to have some great games and she’s going to disappear in some games,” she added. “That’s kind of what most freshmen do. But she has been spending a lot of extra time in the gym, she’s really been working on her game, a lot of it is getting confidence and getting touches and tonight we were able to get her the ball and she really made things happen.”
The Johnnies also got contributions from junior guards Eugenia McPherson and Nadirah McKenith. McPherson had 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting and McKenith had nine points and eight rebounds to help keep the Hawks under control.
St. John’s hits the road for its first Big East game Dec. 7 against No. 20/21 DePaul.
“I think coming into this week, we knew it was going to be an extremely difficult week,” said Barnes Arico. “I know [DePaul] and I know what it’s like playing there. They’re experienced, they got great kids returning, they have a great program. They don’t lose [at home] but who knows? We are getting better and better.”
Stevens eyes Holiday return
Barnes Arico and the women’s basketball team might be getting an early Christmas present—the return of their captain, senior forward Da’Shena Stevens from injury.
On Dec. 2nd Stevens was cleared by doctors to start practicing with her team.
“She went to the doctor on Friday and the doctor said things look good and we are going to start gradually working things back to workouts and practice,” said Barnes Arico. “Right now she is doing some stuff in practice—no contact or anything like that—but she is trying to get her conditioning amped up and she is going through drills.”
Stevens, a preseason All-Big East player who has been on the sidelines to open the season with a knee injury, has missed the teams first eight games and will miss at least two more.
“In the next couple of weeks we are going to progressively work her more and more into practice and hopefully, maybe wishful thinking have her for our Christmas tournament,” Barnes Arico said.
The Christmas tournament she referred to is the St. John’s Chartwells Holiday Classic, a two-day tournament played on campus at Carnesecca Arena begininning on Dec. 17.