The St. John’s women’s basketball team’s opening 89-52 thrashing of Stony Brook on Sunday had a little extra significance.
The win was Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico’s 200th career in her 14th year of coaching, an impressive accomplishment considering the program was at the bottom of the Big East conference when she took over.
“It’s a really special thing to be a part of,” said senior forward Joy McCorvey.
Barnes Arico wasn’t exactly throwing herself a party afterwards. She kept it in perspective.
“It just means I’ve been coaching a long time,” she said with a laugh. “I wasn’t thinking about it. I was really just anxious to see how we played.”She was not disappointed.
St. John’s entered opening night with high expectations. With four returning starters and a top flight recruiting class, big things are expected out of the Red Storm this year.
For one night at least, they lived up to the hype.
The Johnnies jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, and didn’t ease up until going into the locker room with a 48-14 halftime lead.
It was, Barnes Arico said, the perfect start to a season.
The second half was more competitive as St. John’s played more reserves. Every player on the team got onto the floor, with nobody playing more than 27 minutes”We came in with a lot of energy,” said Barnes Arico. “We showed great depth.”
In addition to depth, the Red Storm showed off many scoring threats. Three players scored in double figures, and nine had at least five points.
“I thought we had good balance,” said Barnes Arico. “It’s just good to see them in a real game. You have a lot of question marks and a lot of times people come into games and play differently than they’ve been practicing.”
There were no such surprises on Sunday. The reigning Big East Freshman of the Year, sophomore guard Da’Shena Stevens, led the team with 22 points on 9-for-10 shooting. Freshman guard Shenneika Smith, ranked the No. 7 player in her class by ESPN, impressed as well with 17 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Sky Lindsay added 10 points and four rebounds.
Two other freshmen, Nadirah McKenith and Eugeneia McPherson, also played major minutes as well. McKenith scored six points with three rebounds and five assists, while McPherson tallied five points, three rebounds and an assist.
“Shenneika Smith, Eugenia McPherson and Nadirah McKenith all played significant minutes in their freshman debut,” said Barnes Arico. “All of them made an impact and will continue to make an impact throughout the year.”
“The freshmen were great,” added McCorvey, “They came in and gave great minutes when they were on the court. They worked hard and did what was expected of them.”
Perhaps most importantly, according to McCorvey, “They got the freshman jitters out now.”
McCorvery had a good game herself. The senior led the team in rebounds with nine and added eight points It is the third straight opening game win for St. John’s. They travel to Amherst to play UMass on Wednesday.