Just the Facts, Ma'am: A late second-half run by the Hofstra Pride staved off the visiting St. John's Red Storm, 93-82. Katelyn Loper led all scorers with 29 points, while Shante Evans notched 27 points and 14 rebounds. Eugeneia McPherson led St. John's with 22 points.
For wrestling moves, shouting matches, geometry, and Jamaica Avenue at 11:30 on a Friday night, join your intrepid and still queasy blogger after the jump.
Halftime in Hempstead, and St. John's is on an upswing, down one to Hofstra. The lead was as much as eleven, and we were mighty cranky. The defense really picked up in the second quarter, and the St. John's cavalry appears to have arrived.
Yes, I decided to go to this game after all. It took an hour and a half out of work early, a bus, two subway trains, an LIRR ride, and another bus, but here I am. I couldn't resist. Besides, I have Shante Evans on my fantasy team, and she's putting in work. If we pull this out in the second half, it'll be the best of both worlds.
I'm starting to think duct tape might be a necessary part of the kit. Eugeneia McPherson is not doing herself any favors running her mouth after she hurled Nicole Capurso to the ground after the whistle had blown during a loose ball tussle. The Hofstra fans were understandably irked that Capurso got the foul and nothing was called on Gina. Gina continued to periodically kvetch to the refs and the bench for a long time afterward. Gina, it doesn't help.
All due credit to the loud and boisterous student section at Hofstra. Although when they started booing Gina every time she touched the ball after the throw... it was on like Donkey Kong, and the late-arriving RedZone got in on the action. Who needs eardrums, anyway?
I really like Hofstra's arena. I've said this before, but it's one of the nicer facilities in the New York metro area The layout's a little quirky, but you get used to it. They get good community support and local sponsorship, too. The Pride have a strong base to build on, and I think they've started to realize just how good it is.
I haven't seen Mallory Jones on the court yet, but anyone who sings along with "I Love Rock & Roll" is all right in my book.
So it's not the best of both worlds, just a world. I guess I can live in it. Be warned: the one thing I don't like about Hofstra is that they don't give out proper scorecards, so I have to bootleg it with a legal pad and scribbling. I wasn't thrilled with Andreana Thomas's grabby hands. I was amused by Deven Green's... huge tracts of land, and her brief scoring run. Marie Malone looks to have been bumped to the bench, but she's still a Mike Carey post at heart- you're going to ache afterwards. The Pride also got some good minutes from Anma Onyeuku, but I don't remember Krista Kilburn Steveskey going much deeper into her bench.
Katelyn Loper must have aced geometry in high school, because she showed an amazing knack for getting the right angle on her shots. I have no idea why we didn't get on her after the third, or fourth, or fifth three-pointer she hit on us. She's going to be something special for Hofstra, and the Colonial should be afraid of two years of her and Shante Evans together. Bond, Candace Bond (which was how she was announced during starting lineups and when she hit shots), had a good defensive game, with a nice block in the first half and strong rebounding play. Candice Bellocchio went well into the paint and set up Loper on one of her threes with a nifty shovel pass. Nicole Capurso mixed it up for loose balls and got loose for outside shots. But that game belonged to Shante Evans. There was a sign in the stands reading "#30 Is A Beast", and that was dead-on accurate. I know that mold of player is going out of style in the WNBA, and she has no outside shot to speak of, but if she wants it, I think she'll have a very good career in Europe.
I have to give a lot of credit to Hofstra's coach for playing the mis-matches very well. When Kim Barnes Arico tried to use Jennifer Blanding as muscle, she came with Marie Malone, who's physical, but more outside-aligned; when KBA tried to bring in Amber Thompson for a better match-up, Hofstra brought Shante Evans right back in. And Kilburn-Steveskey also took advantage of the five-guard set that St. John's was inexplicably running at the end of the game.
The student section also brought it. RedZone could learn a lot from them, though the removal of shirts to disconcert the shooter can stay in Hempstead, thanks. We gave them their props after the game. We weren't thrilled with them booing Eugeneia McPherson every time she touched the ball, so it got loud.
Jennifer Blanding put in some decent minutes against the Hofstra posts, but she's got to be more aggressive under the basket. When you've got people singing "watch out for the big girl" every time you come in, maybe you should do something to make that worth it. I liked Keylantra Langley's hustle tonight, though she needs to work on her shot a little bit. She had way too many shots do funny things on the rim, and maybe that's a matter of luck, but maybe that's a matter of too much English. Tesia Harris is starting to look a little more comfortable in her role off the bench. I'd like to see her have more confidence in her shot, but that might come with time. Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin is going to get squeezed out when Da'Shena Stevens comes back- she fights, but she makes dumb mistakes.
Speaking of fighting and dumb mistakes, Eugeneia McPherson, you shouldn't take inspiration from Hofstra's fine wrestling tradition. Slams and leg whips have no place in basketball. And if you do anything that stupid, pleading your case to the refs at random moments well after the original play will not only not help you all that much, but will prejudice an official like Dennis DeMayo against the team in red for future calls. I think she fed off the vitriol being thrown at her by the Hofstra fans, or maybe she liked that RedZone had her back, but she went without fear. I like the offense, but not the mouth. Mary Nwachukwu played with a little more intensity tonight, but still needed the coaches screaming at her. GO TOWARDS THE HOLE, MARY. Amber Thompson's youth got the better of her; she committed a lot of stupid fouls that came back to bite her in the end. But I don't want that to stop her from going hard to the basket and scooping up the offensive rebounds. I am not necessarily thrilled with Nadirah McKenith shooting this much. I know, I know, the LaSalle game, but that was a situation where she needed to be shooting because no one else was hitting. She wasn't quite as successful this time, partly due to better defense and partly due to different calls. Then again, if our posts are going to take four shots total, someone's gotta pick up the slack. Shenneika Smith was working hard at both ends, almost to a fault- in the last six or seven minutes, she was suffering from cramps that made her contort her face and body in the most interesting ways. Since Shenneika's tall and skinny enough that I keep thinking someone can fold her into a suitcase, this was a lot more interesting in person than words can achieve. She's like a giant, expressive rubber band sometimes.
Just for the record, it is an absolute bear to get back from Hofstra on a weekday if you're not taking LIRR. Or even if you are. To be fair, we probably shouldn't have taken the extra fifteen minutes to cross Hempstead Turnpike, go to a lousy McDonalds (flat, warm Diet Coke, ugh), and cross Hempstead Turnpike again. But between the infrequency of Long Island Bus service, the social experiments of the N6, and some unfortunate biological reactions from the mayo in the sandwich I had for dinner, it took three hours to get back. So if you're wondering why these notes are late, it's because I didn't have time to work on them properly that night. Sleep deprivation makes me funnier, but not necessarily in good ways.
On to the next one. I'm looking forward to getting Da'Shena back, simply because having a proven post presence will solve a lot of our problems, especially with the rotation. Now, if we just had a consistent outside shooter...