Handford’s 32 leads all against Gaels


Diana Colapietro

Aliyyah Handford cuts to the basket as a sets a career high 32 points against Iona.

St. John’s walked over Iona with a 78-48 victory in its’ home opener on Tuesday night. The Red Storm (2-0)
rallied behind sophomore Aliyyah Handford’s career high 32 points to rout the Gaels (1-2).

Down by six early, Handford got the Johnnies into an offensive groove as she put the ball back up after sophomore Sandra Udobi missed both of her free throws. This began a dominant pattern for St. John’s, outscoring the lowly Gaels 26-8 in the paint for the period, which later climbed to 48-10 as the final horn sounded.

“I think part of those points in the paint was layups, transition,” head coach Tartamella said. “I [can’t count] how many Aliyyah had in the paint off of turnovers.”

Iona looked to crawl back into the game following four unanswered points, but the Red Storm stomped any hopes of a comeback after scoring 15 of the last 20 points to take a 41-26 lead at the half.

“I thought we allowed them to get to their strengths early,” Tartamella said. “Then we slowed them down … and executed a good run which was jolted by Aliyyah [Handford], who gave them that one big punch and I don’t think they recovered from there.”

The second half of the game followed the pattern set by the first, as Handford continued to run up the score. Handford, who was named to the 2013-2014 Pre All-Big East Team, continued to lead the fast pace of the game, forcing turnovers and making transitions.

“We feel like she’s one of the best guards in the country,” Tartamella said. “We wanted to show people that, but she’s going to be the backbone of what we do for a good period of time here.”

The Johnnies spread Iona’s defense, forcing them to shoot less than 30% for the game.

“We defended, and because we made other kids take shots,” Tartamella said. “We said at halftime we wanted to keep them at 28% at the half, and they shot 27% in the second half. If we want to get to the next level we have to defend.”

Handford, who was named to the 2013-2014 Pre All-Big East Team, shot for 70% from the field.

St. John’s will next play on Saturday when they host St. Francis at 2 p.m.