Women’s Basketball Survives Late Creighton Rally to Advance

Junior Nadirah McKenith hit a game-winning shot with 0.1 seconds left as the St. John’s women’s basketball team survived a scare from No. 14 Creighton, winning 59-57 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.


After the Red Storm held the lead for most of the game, the Blue Jays evened the score courtesy of two made free throws by Carli Tritz at the 5.4 second mark. McKenith answered back by taking the inbounds pass, racing up the court and floating in a running shot from inside the key to win it.


“It was an exciting finish,” head coach Kim Barnes Arico told reporters. “Nadirah made a tremendous play down at the end to get us the win. I thought it was a great basketball game … I thought we had to make some tremendous plays down the end when things really didn’t go our way. We really stepped up.”


McKenith led the team with 21 points, while senior Da’shena Stevens added 12 points of her own.  Juniors Shenneika Smith and Eugenia McPherson each totaled in double figures as well with 10 points.


When McKenith came down the court in the final seconds, she had to make a shot that she thought she was comfortable with.


“We practice that kind of play all the time in practice, every day,” she told reporters. “Basically we just try to get a sprint screen at half court for me to go to the basket or try to make a basket every time.”


Sophomore Mary Nwachukwu made her first appearance in a game since she broke her nose in four places against West Virginia three weeks ago at Carnesecca Arena.  Her protective facemask didn’t seem to get in the way as she contributed six rebounds, which tied Smith and Stevens for the team lead.


St. John’s, who has now been to the NCAA tournament three years in a row, narrowly avoided becoming the first No. 3 seed to ever lose to a No. 14 seed.  No. 14 seeds are now 0-75 all time in the first round of the tournament.


The Red Storm will remain in Norman, Oklahoma for round two and will take on the winner of No. 11 Michigan and No. 6 Oklahoma on Tuesday at 9 p.m.  The Johnnies have made it to the second round in each of their last three appearances, but have never advanced past that point.