The good times keep on rolling for the St. John’s.
Sparked by big games from seniors Danaejah Grant and Aliyyah Handford, the Red Storm beat Kansas 86-71 at Allen Fieldhouse Sunday for their sixth consecutive win.
“This was a great team win for us today,” St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella said. “I was very pleased, as I always am, with our ability to win on the road and now we have to get ready for Wednesday.”
Handford and Grant continued their early season tear against the Jayhawks. They both had career days, as Handford scored a career high 33 points, and Grant scored 26.
After a sluggish start, the team went on an 11-0 run to take a 24-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. Grant and Handford scored nine of those points, and helped the Red Storm take control. They led for the rest of the game.
St. John’s used another big run, a 12-2 spurt, take a commanding lead at the half. Handford scored six of those 12 points and entered halftime with 14 points on 7-12 shooting. Grant led all scorers at the half with 16 points, shooting 60 percent and adding a pair of steals.
It was much of the same in the second half, as St. John’s was able to easily build and preserve their lead, going up by as much as 21 at one point in the third. Handford scored 15 in that quarter alone.
“She’s an unbelievable player,” Tartamella said. “She had a great game today. I thought she did a great job of finding gaps and finding seams to get open. She pushed the tempo when she needed to and she made some really difficult shots, which is what great players do.”
Grant added six on two three-pointers as she and Handford nearly outscored the entire Kansas team in the quarter. She now leads the BIG EAST in scoring, averaging 20.1 PPG.
The defense was sharp, capitalizing on 18 Kansas turnovers, turning them into 22 points. They slowed down the Jayhawks leading scorer, Lauren Aldridge. Aldridge shot just 4-11, including 1-5 from three, to net 13 points.
The 86 points also set a new season high for the Red Storm, who have stressed the need to shoot better and score more all season long. The offense shot a season-high 56.9 percent for the game, and connected on three of their seven three-point attempts.
Coach Joe Tartamella took full advantage of his superior bench play as well, giving 10 players the opportunity to contribute. Jade Walker nearly had her first double-double this season, adding 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Red Storm used the formula that they have been using all season to win easily, playing aggressive defense and imposing their will in the paint. They outscored Kansas 56-30 in the paint, and also added 22 points off of Kansas turnovers.
St. John’s looks to make it seven wins in a row on Wednesday against Yale at Carnesecca Arena.