HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Kim Barnes Arico was holding the play for the most opportune time. Kia Wright, who had not been asked to run it all year, was confident she could make the pass.
“That was the first time this year we ran it,” said Wright, St. John’s junior guard. “I knew I could get it to my girl Ange (Angela Clark) and she would finish it.”
Added a laughing Barnes Arico: “I was saving that one up.”
With good reason. The play in question, a pass Wright threaded to Clark for a short jumper, gave St. John’s a four-point lead with 20 seconds left against Hofstra on Sunday in Hempstead, N.Y. Wright moved off a screen, drew a double team and hit Clark for two. The Red Storm went on to defeat the Pride 71-65.
“I said, ‘I know I’m going to get the ball in [Wright’s] hands and she’s going to be able to get the ball to [Clark],’ and I felt confident that it would work,” said Barnes Arico, St. John’s fourth-year coach. “But Ange still had to finish the play and that was a great finish, great finish.”
The Red Storm opened up the scoring in the game, pulling ahead 4-0 thanks to back-to-back layups by Clark. But Hofstra (4-3) quickly fired back with junior Cigi McCollin sinking the three.
With 9:29 left in the first half, St. John’s (8-1) held a commanding 10-point lead, thanks in large part to freshman Monique McLean’s 10 points.
But the Pride was not ready to give up. It fought back and, despite posting a first-half shooting percentage of only 32.1 percent compared to St. John’s 43.3 percent, the score was a 37-32 St. John’s lead at halftime.
“Tonight was certainly a dogfight,” Hofstra coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “No one was willing to relinquish this game very easily.”
Hofstra junior Vanessa Gidden was the story of the second half. She posted a double-double in the half alone, scoring 18 points (20 total) and grabbing 11 rebounds (12.)
“They were tough, they were very aggressive in the second half,” said Clark. “We had to fight back, though.”
Fight back they did. Claxton, with 7:18 left on the clock and the game tied at 52, sunk a 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzed, giving St. John’s the lead it would eventually carry to the end.
“That was a really big shot,” said coach Barnes Arico. “I think she put a lot of pressure on herself- so for her to and make that shot for our team was huge. She really did a great job.”
The game remained as close as 67-65 with 42 seconds remaining but after two timeouts called by Barnes Arico, Clark got the assist from Wright and put up the final blow, making it 69-65.
”After we lost that game [to Marquette],” Barnes Arico said, “I said ‘What are we going to do when we’re in that situation again?”
It worked seamlessly.