Despite playing in their only game of the season at Madison Square Garden and senior sensation Kia Wright netting her 1,000th career point, the St. John’s women’s basketball team was unable to overcome nationally ranked Connecticut on Saturday, losing 84-63.
Wright led the Red Storm with 19 points, five assists and five steals, while sophomore Monique McLean also turned in a strong performance with 17 points and was perfect from the free throw line.
“It feels good to get the 1,000th [point] here but it would have been good to get the win,” Wright said of achieving the milestone at the Garden.
After an even five minutes of opening play, UConn, ranked at No. 4/5 in last week’s polls, opened up a large lead. Junior Mel Thomas drained three consecutive three-pointers, finishing the game with six. St. John’s was unable to regain their composure, struggling to earn points from in the paint. The Red Storm finished the half 0-6 from behind the arc, while sinking only 27.6 percent of their field goals.
“The thing with [Thomas] is that she is so good that if you don’t key on her and know where she is on every possession she can kill you with a three, and that is what she did,” said coach Kim Barnes Arico of the Huskies’ guard. “Every time we had a lapse she took advantage of it.”
Although St. John’s improved their field goal shooting in the second half, the Huskies continued their relentless attack, shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range.
“Connecticut is a terrific team,” Barnes Arico said. “[Coach Geno Auriemma] does a wonderful job. We hung in there, fought back, and hung tough.”
While St. John’s has bolstered their roster in recent weeks with players returning from injury, including Wright, the Red Storm was unable to generate any offensive flow, receiving points from only six players.
“It’s been a tough year, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs and injuries and the one thing I can say is that this team hasn’t quit,” Barnes Arico said.
Wright’s return to the lineup has greatly boosted the St. John’s offense, however she admitted to not being physically 100 percent, saying that she’s “not even close.”
During Wright’s absence from the lineup, McLean filled the role of point guard, a position she does not envy.
“It takes a lot of pressure off of me,” McLean said. “Playing the point guard position was very hard.”