Close-call win in exhibition opener for women’s hoops

November 7, 2008
Last night’s season-opening exhibition for the St. John’s women’s basketball team was supposed to be a game with no pressure, accompanied by an easy, confidence-boosting victory heading into regular season play.

Everybody was supposed to see the talent the team had, with Sky Lindsay moving to point guard, Monique McLean continuing to lead the team in scoring and Kelly McManmon draining baskets from downtown.

And after the first half concluded, with the Red Storm leading the X-All Stars 49-38, that is exactly what it appeared to be. Lindsay had three assists, McLean had 13 points and McManmon drained four threes.

But with a little more than 12 minutes remaining in the game, the X-All Stars’ head coach began jawing at a referee about an earlier call, resulting in a technical foul. At that point, both sides realized that it was turning into more than just an exhibition game. It was a battle for a victory.

The Red Storm began to see their 17-point lead begin to slip away with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation. It was quickly cut to 12, then eight, then seven, and before you could blink, the Red Storm were nursing a three-point lead with just 1:56 remaining.

And with 1:32 to play, the X-All Stars’ Natassia Boucicault took a shot from beyond the left side of the arc – a shot that could’ve tied the game and swing momentum away from the Red Storm.

“I’m hoping she misses,” Lindsay said.
The high-arcing shot was misfired and Red Storm forward Da’Shena Stevens secured the most important of her game-high 13 rebounds.

Still trailing by three and with no other choice but to foul to extend the game, the X-All Stars fouled both Stevens and McClean, sending them to the line. However, they combined to make six straight foul shots, propelling the Red Storm to an 85-80 victory.

“I think it’s a good opportunity for our team to be put in that situation early in the year,” head coach Kim Barnes-Arico said. “And to see how we respond and not panic and just make plays down the stretch.”

Despite the great performances in the first half by McManmon and Lindsay, they both struggled to get going in the second. McManmon had only five points while Lindsay only had one assist in the final 20 minutes.

“I think [Lindsay] is trying to adjust to a new position and she’s trying not to be as much of an offensive scorer as she is a distributer,” Barnes-Arico said. “She was just trying to make sure that we were running our stuff.”

After the game concluded, players and coaches alike were able to wipe the nervous sweat from their brows, each with something in mind that needs to be improved.

“We need to work on our defense,” Lindsay said. “We were up by a lot and then lost the lead at the end.”

“I think, in the second half, we just weren’t making shots” Barnes-Arico said. “We didn’t make easy baskets. Those are the baskets we got to make.”

The Red Storm will open up their regular season on Nov. 14 against Northeastern