As the old saying goes, it’s not how you start the game, it’s how you finish it.
That was the storyline for the St. John’s women’s basketball team Tuesday night as they defeated Dartmouth 74-39 in Hanover, N.H.
The Red Storm struggled early on against a seemingly inferior opponent in the Big Green as they only shot 38.7 percent from the field in the first half.
Although in the second half Monique McLean, Kelly McManmon and the run-and-gun Red Storm pieced together a solid 20 minutes of basketball to improve to 2-0 on the season.
“We got off to a slow start,” said head coach Kim Barnes Arico. “But then in the second half we turned it up on defense and caused a lot of points for us.”
McLean led the scoring charge as she scored a game high 23 points on nine of 13 shooting from the field. With the 23 points, she has 1,141 in her St. John’s career which moves her into 11th place on the all-time St. John’s women’s basketball scoring list. “I had no idea,” McLean said. “It’s exciting this early in the year, I can go even further.”
“She probably doesn’t even look at it,” said Barnes Arico. “She wants to win basketball games. Her goal is to get better and better everyday.”
In addition to McLean’s scoring, the Red Storm got another solid shooting effort from McManmon. She netted 19 points on six of nine shooting. Fifteen of her 19 points came from behind the arc. With her five treys, McManmon tied for 10th on the Red Storm single-game three point shooting list, a feat she has now accomplished three times.
“I’m feeling really good, aggressive and confident,” McManmon said. “I know I have to score for us to be successful.”
The slow Red Storm start only gave them a 29-23 lead at halftime, but the second half was all St. John’s. They went on a 12-0 run early the second half stretching their lead to 41-26.
From that point on, St. John’s never looked back as they outscored the Big Green 45-16 in the second half.
“The first half wasn’t too great,” McLean said. “Coach got on us and we played better in the second half because of our defense, full court man to man.”
That defense held Dartmouth to an 18.2 field goal percentage in the second half and 26.8 percent for the game. In addition, the Red Storm caused 21 Dartmouth turnovers.
“We exercised our defense,” Barnes Arico said. “We shut them down in the second half.”
St. John’s got a strong boost from their bench as they outscored Dartmouth 24-6 in bench points. Many players pitched in off the bench, but none more than freshman Da’ Shena Stevens. Stevens scored 10 points and added five rebounds and three steals. Fellow classmate Brittany Murphy kicked in six assists and Sheree Ledbetter grabbed eight boards, a career high.
“She’s [Stevens] going to be a great player for us,” said Barnes Arico. “The more comfortable she gets, the more she will play.”
The Red Storm finished the game shooting 42.9 percent from the field thanks to the 46.9 percent they shot in the second half.