Madison Square Garden has become the friendliest of locations for the St. John’s women’s basketball team, as it has won two of its three Big East victories in the historic arena and remain undefeated there.
Senior guard Kelly McManmon recorded a career-high 20 points for the Johnnies as they defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats on Sunday evening. The Red Storm now move to 15-7 (3-6 Big East).
The Johnnies overcame two 14-point leads by the Bearcats and wouldn’t gain a stronghold on the victory until the final minutes of the match.
“I’m proud of the way we battled back,” head coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “We could have faded there at times and we really fought back. We got after them with our pressure and we defended like crazy.”
The Johnnies shot poorly in the first half as a result of the Bearcats’ effective full-court pressure, only connecting on six baskets and shooting a dismal 23 percent from the field. Neither team performed well in the first half, but the Bearcats would make a 12-3 run to close the half with a seven point advantage on the Storm, 28-21.
The Bearcats would start the second half the same way they finished the first, starting the half on a 7-0 run. By the 17 minute mark, the Bearcats led by 12, and it seemed likely the Johnnies would suffer yet another conference loss.
The Johnnies’ awakening began as they turned quick turnovers into easy baskets and began to erase the double-digit deficit. Behind the sharp shooting of McManmon and the dominant post play of freshman Da’Shena Stevens, the two would spark a 16-2 run that would lead to an eventual 39-39 tie at the 11 minute mark.
Two key three-point shots by McManmon may have been the dagger in the Bearcats side. A seven-point lead with less than three minutes to go would turn into a twelve point turnaround victory for the Storm.
The Johnnies full court pressure in the second half allowed them to score 25 points off 23 Cincinnati turnovers.
Stevens scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half and Sky Lindsay finished with eleven points in the victory.
“I had an advantage over the smaller player, so I just took advantage of that in the second,” Stevens said.
The night’s leading scorer McManmon surpassed her previous career high of 19.
The Johnnies victory came without the success of their leading scorer Monique McClean, who finished with five points and shot 1-12 from the field.
“I’ve tried to keep the team motivated and confident, said Head Coach Barnes-Arico, “but losing tough games has killed our confidence.”
“We’re taking it game to game, and not worrying about who we have next,” she said.
The Johnnies hope to continue the success, as their next matchup comes against the number one team in the conference and country.
The Storm will host the Connecticut Huskies in Carneseca Arena where they are 9-1 this season, Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.