After a disappointing 61-60 defeat on the road to Georgetown last week, the St. John’s women’s basketball team could not grind out yet another close game, this time to Villanova, 69-66, Saturday at Carnesecca Arena.
“It was a tough game,” said head coach Kim Barnes-Arico. “We let [Villanova] get too far ahead and had to battle back. They are a tough team to come back against.”
The Red Storm fought the Wildcats to the wire, at times showing great execution in possessions, but Villanova’s three forwards, who are all six-feet tall or more, shut down St. John’s Tiina Sten down-low. The Wildcat defense restricted the Red Storm’s most dominant inside presence, holding the senior forward to only four points and one board. St. John’s trailed Villanova for the majority of the second half, but only managed to tie the game twice.
Wildcats junior forward Lisa Karcic led all scorers with 10-of-17 shooting from the field, including connecting on seven three-pointers. Karcic finished with 27 points, six rebounds and three assists. Teammate Stacie Witman aided in the Wildcat win, scoring 21 points and grabbing a game-high eight boards.
“[Villanova’s] strength is that they find your weaknesses and mismatches then exploit them, [and] they’ve done that for the past couple years,” Barnes-Arico said. “Their posts are 6-foot-2 but they play like guards.”
Karcic’s offensive fluidity at the perimeter was unstoppable and St. John’s could not find an answer to her outside presence. St. John’s Kia Wright attempted to take on the load by trying to create scoring opportunities for herself and teammates. After playing the entire forty minute period, Wright scored 23 points (9-of-13) and dished out five assists. Junior guard Monique McLean chipped in with 14 points.
“I tried to execute what coach wanted and get the shot,” said Wright about one of her many tough offensive efforts to put points on the board during the second half.
The tight game allowed St. John’s to hold a lead of only two points at the 4:13 mark of the first half when the score was 23-21.
The Red Storm went into halftime trailing the Wildcats by three, 31-28. By the break, Karcic scored 13 points for Villanova, while Wright and McLean had each posted nine points.
St. John’s finished 41.1 percent (23-of-56) from the field and 85 percent (17-of-20) from the charity-stripe, while Villanova went on 51.9 percent (27-of-52) shooting overall and 12-of-26 from downtown.
Currently, St. John’s is ranked No. 13 in Big East conference standings.