Just the Facts, Ma'am: It took overtime, five threes from Amanda Burakoski, a double-double from Da'Shena Stevens, and a near triple-double from Nadirah McKenith, but St. John's fought off #17 Georgetown, 75-71. The Hoyas' Sugar Rodgers led all scorers with 23 points, and Tia Magee had 14 of her 16 in in the second half, but they were the only double-figure scorers for Georgetown. Burakoski's 15 points led the Red Storm, with McKenith adding 13 to go with nine assists and eight rebounds, and Stevens chipping in 12 points and 10 boards.
For lockdown defense, amazing a capella singing, threats of physical harm, stunning defensive plays, memorabilia, and the urge to rush the floor, join your intrepid and congested blogger after the jump.Oh my God, what a game! This was the game we were expecting last year at McDonough. This was the game we've been waiting for this team to play on national television. This was the moment that this team needed to prove that they could step up and play with, if not the big dogs, the medium dogs. I know it's pink, and that was sort of frustrating, because our red does not go well with pink, but that was the only frustrating bit of the whole thing. We got a lot of people at the game, and a lot of people who got into the game when they were needed. This was what February Frenzy is supposed to be about, when you make your mark and make your stand and show what you've got on national television.
Dear lost marketing child, women's games at Carnesecca Arena are general admission. Don't check our tickets. We've been sitting next to the band all season, and if you watch the replay on ESPN360, you will hear us cheering.
Shoutout to the Metropolitones, who sang an awesome anthem and a spine-chilling rendition of Alicia Keys's "Empire State of Mind". I have always said that the one thing I liked about Blaze was her fetish for Sweet Adelines and a capella groups.
I don't want to say that we're fixtures in our section, but I think one of Coach Barnes Arico's daughters tried to enlist us as baby-sitters for her when the rest of the family was late to the game. Just for the record, this is one of those things that would probably not end well and would result in us being banned from St. John's games and facilities for the rest of our lives, and that would be heart-breaking.
It takes two teams to make a great game, and I have to give Georgetown some props. They could have easily folded when we went on a 7-0 run after they tied it at 50. But they surged back, and when we surged back, they surged back, and it wasn't until Nadirah McKenith was hitting free throws on a bad ankle that we were able to put them away. They did a great job of finding the open player time and time again. I sort of feel bad for Tia McBride, though; yes, if my parents had named me Tommacina, I would probably go by Tia as well, and I'm sorry that St. John's left her full name on the roster. She had a very solid game as the sixth woman, including a great defensive play to disrupt a fast break. Sydney Wilson has impressive size, but she's not sure how to use it. She missed a lot of bunnies that she should have hit. I wasn't thrilled about her checking Da'Shena Stevens into the boards like she was trying out for the Caps or something. Morgan Williams gave minutes off the bench at the point, and while I don't have detailed +/-, I don't know that the team was better for her being in the game. I think the loud contingent behind the Georgetown bench was there for Alexa Roche, the New Yorker on the team, who brought size (but really, she's a guard? NO WAI!). I thought it was interesting that Williams-Flornoy went to her deep bench early in the game, but it paid off for them later in the game.
Sugar Rodgers does amazing things with the basketball, and she's got good hands, but sometimes I think she's trying too hard to make every shot look like it should be on the highlight reel. I wonder if she's trying to be Angel McCoughtry, to put Georgetown on the map and keep them there the way Angel did for Louisville, to make sure that everyone's watching so they can see what her team can do. Because that's the thing: Sugar Rodgers is one hell of a player, but she's got some great teammates around her. Monica McNutt didn't have a great game, as compared to last year when she kicked our butts. But Tia Magee was hitting big shots every time we turned around- for a six-two forward, she's got some range. Adria Crawford played a good game, including one steal where she picked off the pass like she was trying out for cornerback for the Redskins. (Do it, Adria! They need all the help they can get!) Rubylee Wright ran a great game at point, and how appropriate is it that a tiny guard is from a town caled Latta? I'm not making this up. She drove the lane and put up shots that were Mark Jackson-esque. And then there was the block on Sky Lindsay, and that wasn't one of those blocks a five-three player gets on a five-eleven player where the taller player has it down at her ankles. Those were some serious ups on Wright.
Georgetown doesn't let you think. They don't give you time. If you take a moment to think, they'll strip you or force a violation from you. You have to think fast to beat the Hoyas. They're loud, too.
Nadirah must still be recovering from something, because Keylantra Langley was a straight swap for her a few times. I don't recall Key doing anything statistically relevant except for one of the dumbest turnovers I've ever seen. Jennifer Blanding came to play today. It's not going to look like it from the stat sheet, because she only had four points and two rebounds, but believe me when I say that she had a nice presence in the paint and didn't make any horrible mistakes that had us burying our faces in our hands. That was the game we needed from Biglove. That was also the game we needed from Amanda Burakoski, who went on a hot streak in the first half from beyond the arc to build our lead- oh, and hit the three to force overtime. She had some deplorable defensive lapses, especially on one basket by Monica McNutt where she wasn't even facing her player. That was probably why Eugeneia McPherson came in as the defensive switch late in the game- though Gina's offense was not as solid as I've gotten used to, she hit her free throws (with a little help from St. John on some of those back-rim shots) and had a nice little run with a basket and a steal as part of the 7-0 run.
Coco Hart works hard against a lot of players who are bigger than she is, and I'll always respect her for that. But she had some really boneheaded plays today. One turnover was so egregious I ended up yelling that it was the third dumbest thing I'd ever seen her do. Sky Lindsay didn't do a lot, but she didn't make any major mistakes, and her shots were well-timed. We needed Buzz's offense and Gina's defense more than we needed her steady hand, so she didn't play a lot. Da'Shena Stevens put in some serious work on the boards, and took a lot of physical abuse for. She seemed to be in the right place at the right time on a lot of plays. Her offensive rebound off her missed free throw was huge late in the game. We don't win this game without Nadirah McKenith running the offense, crashing the boards, blocking shots, and hitting her free throws in the OT- on a bad ankle (from where we were, we thought it was a quad, but when we asked her, "How's your leg?" she specified her ankle, so I'm going to trust the judgment of the injured person over mine). She stepped up when we needed her, flirting with a triple-double. But we also don't win this game without Shenneika Smith. Neika didn't have a great offensive game, though she started the game hot, but her defense on Sugar Rodgers was critical to the win. I know, Rodgers had 23 points- but most of those came when Shenneika was out of the game, on fast breaks, or when there was a screen for her. When Shenneika was on her, she was locked down. Period. Gina couldn't stop her, Nana couldn't stop her, and Coco couldn't stop her, but Neika could, and that was all the difference. I'd much rather see Shenneika sacrifice her offense to help keep an opposing star in check.
The officiating was all right, for the most part. Some of the calls were a little sketchy, and Kathleen Lynch seemed to think Nana had kicked her puppy or something. But you live and learn.
I'm glad Rebecca Lobo enjoyed her visit. I was quite squeeful that she was at our place. What can I say? My summer jersey is #50 in Lib black. And we had a brief conversation with the father of our grad assistant... it is very disconcerting to see Mike Thibault not dressed to coach, you know? Especially when you're a fan of his and kind of wished he'd have hauled down I-95 when Donovan went to Seton Hall?
We did not wear pink. One of these days, when I've remembered to get out the flame retardant, I have a screed against pinkwashing saved on my flash drive, but today it boiled down to "it's a rivalry game against a ranked team, I am NOT messing with my superstitions, okay?" The only sop we made to the Cause was that we brought, and my darlin' fiance wore pregame, an Edna Campbell jersey. I was sort of hoping someone would ask why his Storm jersey was the wrong color.
They did an autograph session after the game, and though we've been there and done that, we wanted to congratulate the team for the big win. This is when Nadirah obligingly told us what she injured. We ran into Buzz's mom and told her that whatever she said to Buzz, she needs to say it more often. Apparently it was, "I'm gonna kill you if you don't shoot the ball." Which... would not shock me horribly. Buzz's mom is intense. The scorecard is going up in the office. And hey, I think we've stopped scaring Da'Shena! (Day comes off as... really, really, really shy around people she doesn't know. I mean, she's usually been sick when forced to interact with strangers, so maybe that's it, but I always feel bad that she's monosyllabic around us. We're not trying to be scary!)
I think I'll leave this here in the warm glow of the biggest win of the season. Go Storm!