Women’s hoops earns spot in WNIT tourney

For the second straight year the St. John’s women’s basketball team will be participating in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Red Storm were notified Monday that they have received an at-large bid by the organization to play.

The Johnnies will host Harvard in the opening round of the tournament Friday at 7 p.m. in Carneseca Arena in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

The Johnnies (17-14, 4-12) are coming off a second round exit in the Big East tournament after falling to Notre
Dame 62-45.

Despite a dismal 4-12 conference record, the Johnnies are 13-2 against non-conference opponents and is 11-5 at home this season.

Harvard enters the WNIT tournament having won six of its last seven games. The Crimson’s most recent game was an Ivy League finals loss to Dartmouth, 64-51, ending the defending-Ivy League champion’s hopes at repeating.

Harvard finished the season 19-9 with an 11-3 Ivy League record and is 10-4 on the road.

The Crimson boast three All-Ivy League recipients on their squad, including Brogan Berry, a first-team All-Ivy League freshman who was unanimously named Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Berry averaged 11.9 points per game this season.

The Crimson’s biggest offensive threat is Emma Malarkey, who averaged 14.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, starting every game in 2008-09. Malarkey was the team’s leading scorer in 10 of the team’s 28 games.

The Red Storm will be led by Big East freshman of the year Da’Shena Stevens, who also landed a spot on the Big East freshman team. Stevens is the team’s second-leading scorer with 11.7 per game, picking up where the suspended Monique McLean left off.

The winner will travel to Hartford March 22 to play the Hawks.

Six Big East conference teams received bids in the WNIT, including defending WNIT champion Marquette. A total of 13 teams are playing in postseason tournaments.

Last season, the Red Storm advanced as far as the semifinal round of the WNIT before losing to North Carolina State 63-61.

Kia Wright, in what would be her last game for the Red Storm, led the team with 16 points on 5-12 shooting, including 2-5 from three-point range.