The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Largest Crowd Ever Sees Lady Johnnies Fall in OT Thriller

First place in the BIG EAST was up for grabs on Friday, as St. John’s faced DePaul in closely contested overtime thriller.


It was St. John’s annual Field Trip Day at Carnesecca Arena, which meant the crowd was occupied by screaming middle schoolers from all across the five boroughs. As they rooted on the Johnnies, they also made history at Carnesecca Arena.


The building was filled to capacity and marked the largest home crowd in St. John’s women’s basketball history. Energy from over 5,000 fans could be felt through the entire arena and players from both teams took notice.


“The crowd was amazing, it gave us a lot of energy and hype,” said a smiling Aliyyah Handford. Head coach Joe Tartamella also spoke on the crowds electricity by saying,  “It’s great for both teams to play in that atmosphere, probably the best atmosphere I’ve seen here in years.”


The stage was now set and St. John’s came out firing. Danaejah Grant got the ball rolling as she started off 2 of 2 from behind the arch. Carrying the offensive load, she finished with 23 points, shooting 10 of 18 from the field.


DePaul quickly got their feet under them and took their first lead at the 11:41 mark when Megan Podkowa hit a 25-footer. DePaul’s early three pointers kept them in the game.


Aliyyah Hanford fired back at the 8:11 mark, when she converted on a tough lay-up, giving St. John’s a 1-point lead. Handford, along with Grant, were the offensive stars off the first half supplying the Red Storm with 27 of their 36 total points.


Although, these individual offensive efforts weren’t enough as St. John’s headed into the half trailing DePaul 37-36.


Fast forward to the second half, as it remained gridlocked until the 10-minute mark when Danaejah Grant hit a tough floater in the lane, putting St. John’s ahead 54-53.


It seemed each team regained the lead every minute. In fact, the game was tied 8 times and the lead flip-flopped a total of 15 times.


A late surge from DePaul resulted in a 7-0 run. This gave the Blue Demons a 60-54 lead with only 8 minutes remaining. Although, the turning point came at the 3:36 mark when Aliyyah Handford converted on a fast break, giving the Red Storm a 2-point cushion heading into the final minutes of the game.


“Miss Clutch” Handford stayed in the zone, as she demanded the ball during the two-minute drill.

Although, her late game heroics weren’t enough as St. John’s had a chance to win the game in regulation. Handford’s 30 footer missed just left, sending the game to overtime.


Overtime seemed to rejuvenate the Blue Demons. They wasted no time and started the extra period off right, as they tallied 7 straight points, pouncing out to an 80-73 lead.


DePaul never looked back and St. John’s was quickly outscored 11 to 2. Cruise control was set and the Blue Demons coasted to an 84-75 win, and captured first place in the BIG EAST Conference.


Three-point field goals proved to be the deciding factor. DePaul converted on 12 of 30 shots behind the arc. While St. John’s couldn’t hold their own, making only 3 of 8 three pointers.


St. John’s lackluster performance from the free throw line also contributed to the loss. They converted on only 6 of 16 from the charity stripe and Tartamella stressed the importance of free throws in post game interviews. “When Danaejah and Aliyyah are on the line, I expect them to close out the game,” said Tartamella.


Highlighted performances from St. John’s included Aaliyah Lewis, who supplied 9 points as well as 7 assists. Amber Thompson remained a force on the boards as she tallied 14 rebounds and 2 blocks. Jade Walker also provided 8 points and 8 assists in the loss.


The dynamic duo of Handford and Grant carried the offensive load for the Johnnies as they accounted for 46 of the combined 73 points.


This newly formed rivalry has produced fireworks before. Last year, DePaul got the better of St. John’s as they took 2 out of 3 games during the regular season.


The much anticipated rematch is scheduled for Feb. 15 at McGrath-Phillips Arena, in the heart of Chicago. However, in St. John’s near future they match-up against Marquette this Sunday at Carnesecca Arena.

“It’s always going to be a fight against DePaul,” said an exhausted Grant.

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