It might have been senior night, and St. John’s last regular-season game, an important one for Big East Tournament seeding.
But Kia Wright feels it before every contest √¢?” even if she isn’t starting.
“Every time Kia steps on the floor,” coach Kim Barnes Arico said, “she believes she can beat anyone.”
And, after seeing her performance Tuesday night, it would be hard to bet against her. After letting senior Mercedes Dukes start in her place, Wright led the offensive attack with a game-high 22 points as the St. John’s women’s smoked Seton Hall, 85-54, at Carnesecca Arena.
“We had some good looks and some good shots,” Wright said simply, “and fortunately, they went in.”
Modesty notwithstanding, St. John’s (21-6, 11-5 Big East) held the lead wire-to-wire and dominated from the beginning. Greeba Barlow (17 points) started up the offense with back-to-back jumpers at 18:24 and 17:22 to give the Johnnies a 5-0 lead.
A Barlow jumper with 12:53 gave the Red Storm a 15-11 lead early √¢?” but St. John’s went on a 17-4 run following that to open up a big 19-point lead.
The second half was little more then a Big East Tournament practice for the women. Starters were replaced and even the back-ups were able to prosper against the Seton Hall (6-21, 3-13) defense.
One impressive back-up was Dukes, who got set a career high in minutes with 22.
The senior, who played her last game at Carnesecca Arena, was serenaded with cheers by the crowd of 1,294 on her way out. She high-fived Wright and got a big hug from Barnes Arico.
“I appreciate what Coach did for me and Kia giving me the opportunity to start tonight,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it and I’m just thankful for it.”
“Mercedes Dukes gave us some great minutes tonight,” Barnes Arico added.
The game marks St. John’s highest conference win total since the 1984-85 season. Though it was the last game of the regular season, the Red Storm isn’t exactly looking for rest yet.
“They’re going to get their hair done and make sure they look pretty for the Big East Tournament,” joked Barnes Arico.
Although she was in good spirits, Barnes Arico is nothing but serious in how she views her team.
“They’ve done a great job,” she said. “They really put St. John’s on the map-They really believe. They believe they can do it on any night.”
If the team can preserve its belief through a few more games, it has a chance to send Dukes and the seniors off having participated in something truly special.