McKenith Stars in Blowout Win

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Photo Courtesy of Athletic Communications

The women’s basketball team’s NCAA Tournament dreams are now inching closer to reality after a stellar performance by Nadirah McKenith propelled it to a 75-46 win over Cincinnati on Saturday at Carnesecca Arena.

The victory was the Red Storm’s (13-10, 7-4) third in a row, which helped bump them into the “First Four Out” of ESPN’s bracketology. Carnesecca Arena is one of the sites for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

McKenith finished the game with 20 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks – all without committing a single turnover.

“I think it was one of my best games,” McKenith said. “I was aggressive and I didn’t turn the ball over, which is
something I practice on a daily basis.”

The Johnnies started the game slowly, allowing Cincinnati (9-16, 1-11) to build an 8-0 lead. McKenith quickly erased the Bearcats’ early advantage, scoring 11 straight points to give her side an 11-10 lead.

The Red Storm continued to pull away as the half progressed behind McKenith and freshman Aliyyah Handford. Handford finished the game with 16 points and 6 rebounds.

As the Johnnies’ lead continued to grow as the second half progressed, St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella gave some of his underclassmen a chance for some game time.

“Everybody stepped up and I was really pleased with our bench and a number of our freshman,” Tartamella said. “It was great to see them come out with no drop-off when they came on the floor.

The all-around display fell on the Red Storm’s designated Play4Kay day, which supports breast cancer funding in the name of former North Carolina State coach Kay Yow. To date, the St. John’s Athletic Department has raised $3,600, according to a press release.

St. John’s will look to bolster their postseason chances when they travel to Marquette on Feb. 20.