Women’s Basketball hangs on late for win over Irish

With less than a minute remaining and their once-12-point lead over No. 4 Notre Dame cut to five, St. John’s Da’Shena Stevens refused to watch the lead slip anymore.

Stevens had just missed her second free-throw attempt. With the ball seemingly in Notre Dame’s Brittany Mallory’s hands, Stevens trounced on her, then stole the ball and was immediately fouled.

“It was very important to get those free throws,” Stevens said. “A lot of games are won and lost off of free throws.”

The sophomore forward, only a 50 percent free throw shooter, then nailed both ensuing shots. Notre Dame (23-2, 10-2) called it the dagger that seized their last comeback attempt, as St. John’s held on to their lead to defeat the Fighting Irish 76-71 last night at Carnesecca Arena. The win marks the Red Storm’s first victory against a top five opponent ever, improving their record to 21-5 and 9-4 in conference play.

“When I was in that locker room those kids were going crazy and they
had every right to,” St. John’s Head Coach
Kim Barnes Arico said. “They should
be proud and enjoy this for a minute.”

Shenneika Smith led the team with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Stevens scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Sky Lindsay had 13 points.

Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins scored 18 of her team leading 20 points in the second half. Mallory scored 17 points while Ashley Barlow scored 10 points.

St. John’s 14-point loss to No. 1 Connecticut last weekend, the closest
any team in the Big East has played
with the Huskies this season, helped
ignite the Red Storm’s opening 18-6 run.

“The feelings I have right now I don’t even have words for,” said senior Joy McCorvey, who had six points and eight rebounds. “It’s definitely a big win.

Playing with UConn showed us we can
play with anyone. We didn’t let the number
in front of [Notre Dame] make us scared.”
While the Red Storm led for 39 minutes of the game, they had to tightly grab
onto their lead at all times.

After building that 12-point lead in the first half and forcing Diggins, Notre
Dame’s leading scorer, to commit early foul trouble and sit for the majority of
the first half, the Fighting Irish jumped
to a 12-1 run, cutting the lead to 19-18
with eight minutes remaining in the
first half.

“Our kids started to smile and it made me a little bit nervous,” Barnes Arico said. “I didn’t want them to get too comfortable, too early. I knew they were going to
get back.”

St. John’s then answered with a 14-4 run, capped off by a Lindsay 3-pointer with 3:21 remaining in the first half to extend their lead to 33-22.

In the second half, Notre Dame then slashed an 11-point St. John’s lead with
13 minutes remaining into a one point
lead, 51-50, in less than two minutes.

Behind Smith’s eight points in eight minutes, the Red Storm went on an 18-7 run, extending their lead to 69-57
with only three minutes remaining.

“They made some incredible runs at
us and our kids came together and
continued to fight,” Barnes Arico said.
“We could have folded at times and I was really proud of the way we played tonight.”