Johnnies Advance to WNIT Quarterfinals

The Red Storm will face West Virginia Sunday in Morgantown.

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Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Nick Bello, Assistant Photo Editor

With a win over Penn last Monday night, the St. John’s women’s basketball team moved on in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. On Thursday, they hosted Duquesne in the third round of the tournament.

Like the past few rounds of the WNIT, the Red Storm got off to a hot start early on. They went on a 12-3 run thanks to stellar shooting from Alisha Kebbe.

Duquesne battled back late in the first quarter to cut the St. John’s lead to three, but were unable to take the lead at the end of the quarter as they trailed the Red Storm 13-9.

 

In the second quarter the Red Storm built on their lead thanks to a couple big plays on the defensive end that led to fast break points. Both Kebbe and Akina Wellere helped build the St. John’s lead as Duquesne couldn’t keep up defensively.

At the end of the first half the Red Storm led 34-17. Nine points from Kebbe and seven more from Wellere led the way.

The third quarter was more of the same as St. John’s built on their large lead. With solid plays on the defensive end, the Red Storm were able to convert easy buckets off of steals.

One of the top plays of the game, and possibly the year, came in the third quarter when freshman guard Tiana England made a behind the back pass to Maya Singleton, who finished the play with a layup.

After the game, Head Coach Joe Tartamella addressed the play, to which he jokingly said, “I thought it better get there or I’d freak out.”

The Red Storm held their lead in the fourth quarter and went on to win 65-52. With this win, St. John’s moved on to the quarterfinal round of the postseason for the first time in school history.

 

Wellere lead St. John’s in scoring with 17 points and Kebbe contributed 16 in the win. Singleton recorded another double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

 

“We really came out with focus and energy,” Tartamella said after the game.

 

As for making it this far for the first time in program history, Tartamella was proud, but wants his team to continue to progress.

 

“I’m really proud of the players in that locker room and this is the furthest we have gone in any post season tournament,” he said. “So we are taking steps ahead.”

Defense was a key for St. John’s against the Dukes. Team defense forced Duquesne into errors and turnovers. Kebbe led the team in steals with three, while Imani Littleton recorded five blocks.

“Being locked in, we knew we had to guard them,” Wellere said about the team’s defensive effort. “We had struggled with it in previous games, but we knew at this point it was do-or-die, so we had to put our all into it.”

The Red Storm will play again on Sunday where they will head to Morgantown to face West Virginia. Tartamella knows that who they will face next will be a tough test for him and his team.

“We know we will have a tough task on Sunday,” he said. “But we will be ready to play.”