With eight minutes left in the game and the score well in St. John’s favor, Kia Wright and Niagara’s Kayleigh Scannell dove for a ball on the side line. Scannell landed on the junior guard and ferociously wrestled the ball away.
The incident may have been the toughest fight the Golden Eagles put up all night in the Red Storm’s 67-43 win at Carenesecca Arena on Sunday.
“She was doing all the wrestling,” said Wright, who had a game-high 20 points. “I was just like ‘Alright, calm down.'”
Niagara had little to be excited about. St. John’s, who won its 15th straight non-league game and its fourth consecutive victory this season, scored the first nine points of the game and held Niagara (1-3) scoreless for the first five minutes of the game. The closest they would get was 14-12 with 10:36 left in the first half. The Red Storm increased the lead to 30-19 at the half before outscoring Niagara 10-1 at the start of the second to open up a 40-20 advantage.
“We kid a lot at Niagara that we’re the poor sister to St. John’s since we’re both Vincentian schools, but it showed today on the court,” Niagara coach Bill Agronin said. “That’s what we looked like: the varsity versus the JV.”
Angela Clark, who was noticeably sick after getting the wind knocked out of her twice, scored eight of her 12 points in the second half and collected a game-high 13 rebounds. It was Clark’s third double-double of the season, even after shooting just 5-for-15 from the field.
“She has days where she misses a lot of those chippies, but for the most part she makes those shots,” said St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico. “She really sucked it up and played for us even though she’s feeling terrible and under the weather.”
Wright, Clark’s former high school teammate, didn’t have any trouble shooting. The junior guard shot 5-for-11 from the field and 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
“It’s about time my shot started clicking too today,” said Wright, who had only made two three pointers coming in. “I was off in the beginning of the season, but luckily it went down today.”
The Red Storm (4-0) used its superior length and quickness inside to out-rebound the Purple Eagles 44 to 35, 13 of which belonged to Danielle Chambers, and out-scored them in the paint 28 to 14.
“It wasn’t their size as much as their quickness,” Agronin said. “They would shoot the ball, they would go up and then they would go up again. We aren’t used to seeing that kind of quickness.”
The Red Storm defense limited Niagara to just 32.7 percent shooting from the field for the game and held their top scorers Toni Smalley and Shaunna Ambrose to a combined eight points. St. John’s dominance allowed Barnes Arico to play every player that dressed for the game, and all but one of them scored.
“We want to get everyone a chance to play on our team,” Wright said. “games like this where we should win. We want to get a big lead so we can get our other players in.”