Women’s Basketball Slay Scarlet Knights on the Road

Nadirah McKenith was the No.1 ranked point guard in New Jersey as a senior in high school, but still wasn’t recruited by in-state powerhouse Rutgers.

She’s made them regret that each time she’s played them.

The junior point guard scored 18 points and dished out six assists and improved to 4-0 against the Scarlet Knights as the St. John’s women’s basketball team won Feb. 12 on the road, 61-52.

“I didn’t get a call or anything [from Rutgers in high school],” McKenith said. “After a while, I got over it, and I love it at St. John’s. I think it’s a better place for me anyway.”

Senior forward Da’Shena Stevens added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Red Storm (17-8, 9-3) and Kim Barnes Arico became the winningest coach in program history with her 169th win.

“People have been talking about [the record] but for us it’s really to get back playing better and playing well and really making a move to get into the NCAA Tournament and just being successful is what’s important,” said Barnes Arico. “Ultimately I think it just says that you’ve been at a place for a long period of time. But it’s nice to be a part of a program that we have now.”

St. John’s took control of the game early and didn’t trail after the Scarlet Knights scored the first bucket of the game. The Johnnies went on a 10-1 run at the end of the first half to take a 32-19 lead into halftime. The Red Storm stifled Rutgers in the first half, allowing them to shoot just 20 percent from the field while shooting 57 percent of their shots themselves.

The Johnnies led by as many as 17 points with 15 minutes remaining in the game but Rutgers used a 11-1 run to make it a four point game with 48 seconds left. However, the Johnnies hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to close the game out.

Rutgers was led by senior guard Khadijah Rushdan, who battled foul trouble for most of the game. She scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half. Junior Monique Oliver had 11 points and 14 rebounds before she fouled out.

St. John’s moved to third place in the Big East with the win, in advance of a Feb. 18 matchup with first-placed Connecticut. After starting out 5-5, the Johnnies are 12-3 since the return of Stevens from a knee injury.

“For us I think we feel like we’re a great team,” Barnes Arico said. “I feel like we have our great pieces coming back together healthy and I think it was really important game for us to be able to win against a ranked team on the road,” “I feel like we are one of the best teams out there so I’m happy the kids pulled it out in the end against a ranked team on their home court. So that was really a tremendous win for us.”