Women’s Basketball Cruises Past Panthers

Four players scored in double digits as the St. John’s women’s basketball team cruised past Pittsburgh, 66-51 on Jan. 31 on the road at the Petersen Events Center.


Senior forward Da’Shena Stevens scored 19 points, while junior point guard Nadirah McKenith had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go along with seven assists. Junior guards Eugeneia McPherson and Shenneika Smith also recorded double figures with 10 and 14 points, respectively.


After shooting just 36 percent from the field against No. 2 Notre Dame on Jan. 28, the Red Storm’s (14-7, 6-3) shooting struggles continued in the first half against Pittsburgh.(8-14, 0-9). They shot just 33 percent (12-of-36) in the first half, and 57 percent (4-of-7) from the free throw line. The team’s leading scorer, junior guard Shenneika Smith especially struggled in the first frame, scoring four points on 2-of-11 shooting.


However, they still led 28-20 late in the first half, before a 7-0 run by the Panthers brought the score to 28-27 at the break. St. John’s led despite struggling from the field thanks in large part to 15 Pittsburgh turnovers and a strong half from Stevens. The forward scored 10 points and grabbed all five of her rebounds in the first period.


St. John’s put the game away quickly in the second half. They opened the second stanza on a 16-2 run to open up a 45-29 lead. Smith went 3-of-3 on the run, including a sequence in which she assisted a McKenith layup, blocked two shots on the defensive end, and then hit a fastbreak layup after a steal.


Pittsburgh freshman guard Brianna Kiesel led the Panthers with 13 points, but she also turned the ball over nine times. For the game, the Johnnies forced 26 Pittsburgh turnovers, while committing just 10 themselves.


After starting slowly the season slowly with Stevens injured, St. John’s seventh in its last nine games. The team’s RPI going into the game was 38 according to RealTimeRPI, and the Johnnies are receiving votes in the Top 25 polls.


“We’re getting there,” head coach Kim Barnes Arico said after the team’s loss to Notre Dame. “I try not to look back to much because I don’t want to say what-if or what-was or what could have been, but we do have a strong nucleus, and now that they’re back together, no one is really blowing us out of the gym.”


The Johnnies play again on Feb. 4, when they travel to South Orange, N.J. to take on Seton Hall, who is winless in conference play.