Streaking Johnnies Halted

It would have exemplified what St. John’s women’s basketball has come through over the past two seasons.

Down 24 points, the Red Storm rallied its way back to tie the game late in the Elite Eight of the WNIT at NC State, only to be edged 63-61.

“I was proud with the way we finished the season,” head coach Kim Barnes-Arico said of her team’s run through the WNIT, the deepest a St. John’s team has gone in the post season under her.

There was a lot to be proud about. Coming off a dismal eight-win season last year, St. John’s got to a national tournament for the third time in three seasons and brought its all-time WNIT record to over .500.

“In my 15 years I never experienced anything like last season,” Barnes-Arico said. “Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse we’d get one
more injury.”

“Last year was a horrible season and it was like ‘man, when’s it gonna be over,'” Kia Wright said. “This year we wanted to keep going and it showed me how we grew as a team and as a family.”

NC State took a commanding lead after the first half, 37-17, as it looked like St. John’s last game of the season would end in a blowout.

“The way we came out in the first half, that’s not the way we got to that point,” said Wright, who has played her last game in a St. John’s uniform.

The Red Storm shot an abysmal 20 percent from the field and were 0-7 behind the arc while NC State sunk a respectable 40 percent of its shots.

“The fist half I think we didn’t come out ready to play,” Barnes-Arico said. “They came out right away and jumped on us.”
The second half was a complete about-face for the Johnnies. St. John’s shot a blistering 59.3 percent from the field with 5-11 shooting from three-point range. The Red Storm tied the game at 61 with 29 seconds left. NC State took a two-point lead with 24 seconds left and Wright was unable to extend her collegiate career when her three-pointer with two seconds remaining missed.

“We knew what we needed to do in the second half,” Barnes-Arico said. [Our team] played their tails off and had an opportunity to win the ball game.”

For seniors Wright and Tiina Sten, their days playing at Carnesecca Arena are a thing of the past. After transferring from UConn and being required to sit out the mandatory one year, Wright last year faced serious injury issues.

“I’m satisfied with how I left my career at St. John’s,” Wright said. “I’m really proud of making it through because I had some struggles in my time here.”

And for Barnes-Arico and her returning players, it’s time to move into an era without Sten and Wright, two catalysts that have been through thick and thin over the past four years.

“I was so happy for [Kia and Tiina],” Barnes-Arico said. “They’ve meant so much to the program and the WNIT gave them an opportunity to finish their careers on a great note.

“I think we surprised a lot of people this year.”

Next year, though, teams may not be as surprised.