Weekend Sweep for St. John’s Women’s Basketball

Two blowout wins for St. John’s lead to Friday’s matchup with Villanova.

Nick Bello, Assistant Photo Editor

Coming into this weekend, the St. John’s women’s basketball team rode a three-game losing streak. The skid, which featured road losses to Seton Hall, Creighton and Providence, was broken with two resounding wins against Butler and Xavier this weekend.

The Red Storm started their weekend series with a game against the Bulldogs Friday night. They defeated Butler (13-12, 5-8 Big East) 76-38 thanks to a lot of help from the bench, which combined for 38 total points.

“Off the bench they were energized today,” Head Coach Joe Tartamella said postgame.  “All around I think it was just a great day.”

The win on Friday night was the Red Storm’s second-largest conference win since 2005. Aside from praising his team’s performance, Tartamella said the game was “a much needed one.”

The Red Storm were led by freshman Qadashah Hoppie, who continues to put up big numbers. She had 16 points Friday night and shot an impressive 50 percent from beyond the arc.

With a day of recovery, St. John’s was back in action Sunday afternoon against a rebuilding Xavier team. The game started off just like Friday’s game. With a big Akina Wellere three and a dazzling behind-the-back layup from guard Tiana England, the Red Storm rolled, ending the first quarter on a 13-0 run.

St. John’s pulled away in the second quarter with multiple points coming from both Wellere and sophomore guard Alisha Kebbe. Both Kebbe and Wellere had eight points a piece heading into halftime, giving St. John’s a 35-14 lead. The team ended the half shooting an 51 percent from the floor.

The Red Storm continued to dominate in the third quarter. England found Kebbe in the corner for a three to increase the St.John’s lead to 26 with 5:57 to go in the quarter. The team went into the final frame with a 50-26 advantage.

St. John’s (14-10, 7-6 Big East) continued to dominate in the fourth quarter, eventually building their lead to 34 points. They would go on to defeat the Musketeers (9-15, 2-11 Big East) 70-36.

Three players finished in double figures. Senior forward Maya Singleton recorded 12 points and seven rebounds. Wellere had 11, and a near double-double from Kebbe.

“It was a great performance from start-to-end again,” Tartamella said after the game. “We controlled a lot of aspects of the game and were able to turn [Xavier] over and keep them to a low assist rate.”

The 36 total points for Xavier was the lowest they had scored all season. When asked about keeping Xavier to 36 points, Tartamella praised his team’s ability to take Xavier away from their gameplan.

“I thought we did a good job of coming out and taking them out of things that maybe they are used to getting,” he said. “ I am pleased with our effort and communication.”

The Red Storm was led by Kebbe’s 15 points and nine rebounds. When asked about her performance she said that her goal was to help her team in any way possible.

“I felt like I was just an energizer for my team,” Kebbe said. “I just played my game with defensive stops and rebounds.”

The two big wins this weekend create a lot of momentum for St. John’s, who will play Friday on the road against 18-5 Villanova. The Wildcats are 8-4 in the Big East. When asked about the confidence the two victories will give his team, Tartamella talked about how his team is aware of how good they can be.

“It gives them momentum,” he said. “And we know what we are capable of.”

After Villanova, the Red Storm will take on Georgetown in D.C., following a three-game

homestand to close out the regular season against Seton Hall, DePaul and Marquette. The Women’s Big East Tournament will take place March 3-6 at DePaul’s Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Tartamella hopes to lead the Johnnies to their eleventh-and his sixth as head coach- consecutive postseason appearance after posting a 22-12 overall record last year. The Red Storm will play Georgetown on Sunday.