Led by a strong second half and great efforts from Aaliyah Lewis and Danaejah Grant, the St. John’s won a road against Seton Hall 72-64 Sunday. Lewis had a career-high 22 points, and Grant added 20.
St. John’s had a tough time on offense for the first few minutes of the game. Seton Hall jumped out to an 8-0 lead as the Red Storm missed their first four shots. Their first pair of points came from two free throws by Aaliyah Lewis. That provided some relief for the Red Storm and sparked an 8-0 run of their own.
The deficit at the end of the first quarter was a manageable four points, thanks to a boost from Lewis. She had six points and a steal in the first to keep St. John’s in the game through a tough offensive stretch, coupled with excellent second-chance opportunities for Seton Hall, who had more than a third of their points come from second efforts.
The Red Storm got off the ground in the second quarter. They used a 10-3 run to take their first lead of the game, with Lewis scoring the first four points. Offensively, they were aggressive and got to the foul line often, converting five out of six attempts and outscored Seton Hall 12-4 in the paint. Their inside play also gave them opportunities for tough layups and passes for three-point attempts.
The Pirates were able to keep it close, though, as the two teams went basket-for-basket after the Red Storm took the lead. Tabatha Richardson-Smith scored eight of her 18 points in the first half as the Pirates kept the deficit at four going into the half.
Despite the close gap, St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella praised his team’s effort. “We did a great job of preparing for this game,” he said of their first-half performance. “I thought we took them out of their rhythm early and then our bench played great, which was huge.”
The Red Storm came out on fire to start the second half. They bullrushed their way through the first five minutes of the third quarter, going 5-5 to start out the frame and translated that energy to the defensive side, where they slowed Seton Hall down enough to grow the margin to 10 points with seven minutes left in the quarter.
After another 8-0 run by the Pirates, where Richardson-Smith scored six points, St. John’s ramped up their offense yet again, this time with Danaejah Grant leading the way. Grant, the second-leading scorer in the Big East, made a huge play to revitalize the scoring attack, hitting a layup through contact and, then, sinking the free throw. The Red Storm’s lead was nine heading into the final frame.
Lewis got the fourth started with a layup to put St. John’s up by 11. Seton Hall wouldn’t go away quietly, however. They scored eight straight points after being down 12 to cut the deficit back down to four.
The rest of the fourth was a back-and-forth contest as the Red Storm rode out yet another Seton Hall run, who clawed to within three with just under a minute and a half left after being down nine. Lewis sank three clutch free throws to seal the game for St. John’s, who is tied for second in the conference.