St. John’s offense fires on all cylinders versus Fordham

Four Red Storm players finish in double figures, Handford scores game-high 23

Wilson Sy, Staff Writer

After defeating the Fordham Rams 77-63 in a solid all-around team performance, the St. John’s women’s basketball team is headed to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament Round of 16 for the third time in the program’s history.

St. John’s will take on conference rival Villanova in Philadelphia this Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m.

The Red Storm shot nearly 51% of the field, along with scoring a season-high 77 point outburst. They also had four players score double-figures for the first time since Dec. 11 in a win over the University of Central Florida. 

“I thought this was one of our most complete games of the year,” said St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella. “We did a great job on both ends and withstood some runs. We didn’t turn the ball over, which was a big emphasis going into the game. 18 assists and 10 turnovers is a good day for us, and having four in double figures was good to see. Overall, I’m very proud of these young ladies and like I said the other day, anytime you have an opportunity to play in the postseason, you can’t take it for granted. We’re very excited to have the opportunity to move on and continue our season.”

St. John’s was led by All-Big-East first team Aliyyah Handford, who scored 19 of her game-high 23 points in the first half, along with registering her fourth double-double of the year pulling down 10 rebounds. Jade Walker scored 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting in just 21 minutes of playing time.

Danaejah Grant contributed with 16 points along with no turnovers in 35 minutes of action, while Amber Thompson had a great all-around performance finishing with 12 points, eight boards, four steals and two blocks.

Controlling the offense was point guard Aaliyah Lewis, who had a game-high eight assists.

On the other side, Fordham was led by senior forward Emily Tapio, who finished the last game of her collegiate career with 19 points on 8-of-10 shots. Graduate student Tiffany Ruffin also added 19 points as well.

After St. John’s started out with an early 9-4 lead, the Rams responded with a 9-0 run, with a couple of jumpers by sophomore guard Hannah Misery who scored five of her 11 points during the stretch.

The Red Storm responded by going on an 11-2 run in the next two and a half minutes to build a 20-15 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the first half. Handford was feeling it all in first half, scoring seven points during that run with just a couple of missed shots going half-way down and around the basket. St. John’s held a 38-30 lead at halftime.

Fordham got as close as two in the second half after two back-to-back buckets by Emily Tapio at the start of the period making it 38-36. St. John’s refused to relinquish its lead after leading 49-46; they connected on five consecutive shots and made it 61-53 with 8:33 left. The Red Storm had its biggest lead of 73-57 at the 2:38 mark after a Jade Walker jumper to close out on a 14-point win.