Despite breaking numerous records throughout the season, the No. 6 St. John’s women’s basketball team wasn’t able to achieve what would be their most remarkable feat of the year.
They entered the NCAA tournament with the highest seed in program history, marking only the Red Storm’s fifth NCAA Tournament appearance, their last coming five years ago. They also tied a program record with 25 wins in a single season.
The Red Storm’s run to advance to the program’s first Sweet 16 was halted by No. 3 Florida State on Monday, as the Seminoles won 66-65 in overtime in the second round of the NCAA tournament in Tallahassee, Fla.
Florida State’s Jacinta Monroe scored the final four points of regulation to vault the Seminoles into overtime. Monroe then scored the eventual game winner with 28.9 seconds left.
The game was close throughout. Without any breakout runs by either team, the highest lead by any team was five. There were 19 lead changes and 19 ties.
“We are extremely devastated that we lost this game,” St. John’s Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico. “But it was a great basketball game and I’m proud of how my team played.”
Freshman point guard Nadirah McKenith led the Red Storm (25-7, 12-4 Big East) with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Despite spending most of the second half and overtime battling leg cramps, Da’ShEna Stevens scored 14 points with 10 rebounds. Joy McCorvey had 13 points.
Shenneika Smith broke Stevens’ freshman year single season scoring record of 412 points, by finishing with 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting Monday.
Smith may have injured her left knee battling for a steal in the second half as she hobbled throughout the rest of the game.
Stevens, battling leg cramps near the end of the game, had a chance to win it with a pull-up jumper as time wound down in overtime, but her last ditch effort from the left wing bounced off the rim as the horn sounded.
“I’ve never really cramped before in a game that much,” Stevens said. “It’s probably because there was so much intensity out there. Everybody played hard. I just left everything out on the floor and the last shot. I thought Nadirah was going to go all the way but I got the ball. It was just a tough shot and I missed it.”
Despite mismatches against Florida State in both height and experience, the Red Storm’s run throughout the season surpassed Barnes Arico’s initial expectations.
“Beginning of the year I would have not been sure about how the freshman would do,” Barnes Arico said. “Our chemistry and our defense were all question marks. But last week, my expectations were to go very far in this tournament. It was such a tremendous year. We got better every day.”
The Red Storm will return every rotation player next season except McCorvey and Kelly McManmon. Yet, even with continued improvement, nothing is guaranteed.
“Five years ago, we were here, and the following year we had a bunch of injuries, had a bunch of different things happen and we won eight or nine games,” Barnes Arico said. “You never know when the opportunity is going to present itself again.”
Stevens doesn’t think that will happen with this team. This is a game, she says, that will linger in her mind throughout the offseason.
“I can only speak for myself but I know it will definitely be in my head,” Stevens said. “I think just to be in the position to take the game-winning shot and miss it, it will really be on my mind. It will make me work harder heading into next year, no doubt.”