Red Storm rolling

You can’t get rid of Kia Wright that easily.

St. John’s women’s basketball has extended its season, and Wright’s collegiate career, at least one more game with a 65-59 round-two WNIT victory Monday.

“I couldn’t wait to play,” Wright said of her team’s two-and-a-half week layoff after it was ousted from the Big East Tournament. “Just to keep playing is great.”

Her teammates couldn’t agree more.

“I told [Wright], ‘keep fighting because you motivate me’,” said Joy McCorvey, who had a solid all-around game for the Red Storm. “It brings me a lot of energy.”

Energy is what the Johnnies needed against a feisty Iona team. St. John’s looked to be in control just over seven minutes into the game when it took an 11-point lead, but Iona went on a 15-4 run to tie the game at 19 with 6:29 remaining in the first half.

“There were a couple of times when we could have put them away and didn’t do that because they played hard,” St. John’s coach Kim Barnes-Arico said.

For the remainder of the half and into the beginning of the second half St. John’s and Iona were engaged in a run-and-gun style of play that Barnes-Arico didn’t necessarily find fitting for her team.

“We were going for the first shot and not necessarily the best shot,” Barnes-Arico said. “When we executed we got easier looks and it really opened up the floor.”

Every time that it looked like St. John’s was going to pull away, Iona was there to strike back. The Lady Gales came back from an 11-point deficit late in the contest to make it a two-possession game, but clutch free throw shooting from St. John’s late in the game secured the victory.

“St. John’s is pretty athletic and we weren’t getting too many second chance points,” said Iona’s Lauren DeFalco. “It was harder to get [guard Tiara Headen] the ball because St. John’s guards were the quickest we’ve faced.”

Not only were the St. John’s guards quick on defense, but they were able to score the ball on the other side of the court.

Monique McLean turned in a strong effort with 10 points in both the first and second halves and pulled down seven rebounds for the game.

“Taking nothing away from Kia [but] I think Monique is the best player on St. John’s,” said Iona head coach Anthony Bozella. “You got to give all three of the St. John’s guards credit.”

“I just wanted to go out there and play hard,” McLean said. “I just wanted to win and didn’t want [the season] to be over yet.”

While not an eye-opener on the scoresheet, McCorvey also had a solid game for St. John’s with six points, six rebounds and two assists.

“I think [McCorvey] is a real key to our team and not a lot of people see that,” Barnes-Arico said. She made key plays and got key rebounds when we needed them.

The win for St. John’s marks the furthest that the Red Storm has gotten in a national tournament during the Barnes-Arico era, and the third time in her five year tenure that the Red Storm has made a national postseason tournament. The Johnnies went to the WNIT in 2005 and the NCAA in 2006, both times ending its season in a round-two loss.

St. John’s will once again host as Boston College comes into Carnesecca Arena on Thursday, and Barnes-Arico knows it will be a battle.

“I’m sure they’ll be prepared for us.”