Walker, dominant post-play beat Xavier

Jade Walker had 20 points and 11 rebounds on Sunday against Xavier for her second double-double of the season. (Photo: St. Johns Athletic Communications)

Jade Walker had 20 points and 11 rebounds on Sunday against Xavier for her second double-double of the season. (Photo: St. John’s Athletic Communications)

Katherine Acquavella, Staff Writer

The St. John’s women’s basketball team took sole possession of second place in the Big East Conference standings Sunday afternoon when they defeated Xavier 57-41. The Johnnies’ defense matched a season-best output by allowing only 41 points.

The Red Storm improved to 16-4 overall, 7-2 in conference play. The Musketeers fell to 14-6, 5-4 in the Big East.

The Johnnies, led by junior Jade Walker, held its opponent to just 41 points for the second-straight game. Walker put up 20 points and 11 rebounds, her second double-double of the season. Walker was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll for her performance. In St. John’s past two games, Walker has connected on 14 of her 21 attempts from the floor.

Senior Danaejah Grant finished in double figures for the 23rd-straight game, totaling 12 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes of action. Freshman Akina Wellere contributed eight points off the bench, while sophomore Imani Littleton grabbed eight boards for the Red Storm.

Trailing 6-2 three minutes into the first quarter, the Red Storm’s defense locked down and held Xavier without a field goal for the next eight and a half minutes. The Johnnies went on a 14-2 run during that time to take a 16-8 advantage after one quarter.

The Red Storm defense continued to dominate in the second quarter, limiting the Musketeers to just nine points and taking a 35-17 advantage into the locker room. St. John’s also held a 26-12 advantage on the glass at the break.

“I thought the first half was where we really set the tone for the rest of the game,” said head coach Joe Tartamella. “I was pleased with our ability to finish it out this weekend with the snow and all the different things we had to deal with and not being able to get out on the court yesterday. We were trying to get everything in today, but I was pleased with our effort.”

The Red Storm set a new season-high on the glass for the second-consecutive contest, collecting a campaign-best 47 boards. The Johnnies collected 21 more rebounds than the Musketeers.

St. John’s maintained a large advantage for the rest of the game, not allowing the Musketeers to get closer than 14 points before closing out the contest 57-41.

Both teams shot under 40 percent from the floor with the Musketeers hitting 32 percent of their shots and St. John’s posting .393 field-goal percentage. Xavier was 8-for-15 from the foul line and the Red Storm was 9-for-12.

St. John’s will begin a three-game road trip on Friday, traveling to Milwaukee for an 8 p.m. game versus Marquette. In the two Big East foes’ first meeting of the season, the Johnnies defeated Marquette (9-11 overall, 4-5 conference) in an overtime victory, 81-77.