Women’s Basketball Misses out on post season


Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Joe Tartamella’s squad will not be playing in any postseason competition this March.

Sean Okula, Staff Writer

Tenants of Carnesecca Arena will see March rear both its heads. There is, of course, the madness. But often forgotten is the mundane fate of most.

The St. John’s Women’s Basketball team (15-16, 7-11 Big East) wasn’t invited to the postseason for the first time in 12 years. It’s the first losing record in that same span. Coach Joe Tartamella’s string of six straight tournament bids to start his head coaching career is over.

The season was played to a helter skelter tune. Five out of six wins, six out of seven losses, four more wins in a row. Thirteen games decided by less than two possessions, seven of which ended in defeat.

Things did start with a flourish. Only perennial powerhouse UCONN could derail the Red Storm in their first six games, and only barely. St. John’s held a late lead over the Huskies before the eleven-time champs staved off a colossal upset.

Top preseason freshman Kadaja Bailey scored double digits in three of her first six collegiate contests. Alisha Kebbe and Qadashah Hoppie led a deep collection of scorers. The Johnnies held the opposition to 52 points per game, and stood 5-1 after November.

Stagnation set them off course. 5-1 became 6-2, then 7-3, and 8-5. Consistency was lacking and conference play was on the horizon.

If the Red Storm was staggering, the Big East knocked them down. A five-game conference losing streak in January meant an uphill climb for any postseason salvation.

The struggles were accentuated by a crushing weekend at home in the middle of the month. Facing showdowns with ranked DePaul and Marquette in the coming week, victories over Providence and Creighton were crucial. The Johnnies battled back to force overtime with the Friars, but ultimately fell by a single point. When they again erased a six-point deficit on Sunday, the Blue Jays struck the final blow en route to a 65-63 win.

Slumping spiraled into a 2-7 conference record come February. Despite Hoppie’s best efforts with a career-high 24 points, Butler handed another home overtime loss on the first of the month. That, seemingly, was the breaking point, and Xavier took the brunt of St. John’s frustrations.

A 29-point victory over the Musketeers sparked a run. Home losses to Providence and Creighton were vindicated in their respective buildings, and a win over No. 8/7 Marquette tied together a nifty four-game win streak.

Still needing wins in bunches as the season barreled toward the finish, late game misfortune struck again. First, it was a failed comeback bid against Georgetown. A 13-point fourth quarter deficit was trimmed to one, but would budge no further in an 82-80 Hoya victory. On the regular season’s final day, the Red Storm blew an 11-point lead of their own and fell to Seton Hall.

They returned the favor with a blowout win over the Pirates in the first round of the Big East tournament, but advanced no further. Marquette silenced a red-hot Tiana England, and the Johnnies bowed out without a whimper.

Late-game luck hamstrung the 2018-19 women’s basketball team. Luckily, talent is a perfect remedy. St. John’s will be lucky to welcome Kebbe, Bailey, England and Hoppie all back for 2019-20.

Fortune doesn’t seem far off.