Backcourt comes up big for Johnnies

USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A crucial Crimson injury led to a big St. John's run, and the Red Storm came away with the 81-76 win over Harvard. Aliyyah Handford led all scorers with 25; Aaliyah Lewis added 19 points, five assists, and five steals. Temi Fagbenle notched 20 points and eight rebounds for Harvard. For big plays, big games, unexpected boons, drama, and potential heartbreak, join your intrepid and distressingly hungry blogger after the jump.

We're serious about basketball never stopping. That's why, thirteen hours or so after our last game, we're back in the saddle, home again at Carnesecca Arena for the Red Storm's home match against the Crimson of Harvard (though they're wearing black, so it's currently a bit of a misnomer).

I really like Selina's shirt, or at least the shade of it. A closer look at the cut makes it less my style, because we all know everything's about me. At least the team's practicing free throws this time. I got tired of seeing them come off the rim.

There's a small group here supporting Sandra, which is nice. She's a good kid.

The band is really on their game today. Solid anthem, and a great band arrangement of "Let It Rock" (the Kevin Rudolf song).

Woiould that I could say the same for my Johnnies. Harvard's up 36-30. Fouls have been an issue- the differential was 12-8, and that's with a couple of late ones called on the Crimson. Elise Gordon has made her presence felt in the middle with 11 points for Harvard. Aliyyah Handford has 13 hard ones for St. John's, with Aaliyah Lewis contributing seven.

That shouldn't have had to be as dramatic a game as it was, and I feel a little bad for Harvard because of it- I think losing Christine Clark was a blow that they couldn't completely get over, though they put together a good run after St. John's surged out to an eight-point lead.

Elise Gordon was tough in the middle, throwing her weight around without fear. She saw less time in the second half, but was effective when she played. Jasmine Evans went hard to the basket, drawing fouls on her drives. Shilpa Tummala came on late with her shooting, though she seems to have a fondness for the fadeaway that doesn't suit her. She went out late after a rough collision with a St. John's defender- we thought it was an ankle injury, but the ice was closer to her knee. She ended up having to prop her foot on a redshirt's lap because they ran out of room on the bench. AnnMarie Healy canned a quick three, but I don't remember anything else she did.

Christine Clark really is the heart, soul, and captain of her team. She rebounded well inside for a guard. She was a key scorer for them in the first half. She makes them go. When she went out with the foot injury, it was like the team collapsed without her. And it was a bad foot injury. The shoe came off and stayed off, and feet should not be that red. I wish her all the best. Temi Fagbenle moved with a smooth grace on the inside, setting picks in the high post and putting soft shots in the bsket. She stepped it up in the second half when her team needed someone. Melissa Mullins had a resounding block in the first half, and always seemed to be in the way of rebounds. Erin McDonnell showed off a little outside touch, which she might have been able to make more use of against a team like St. John's- our posts aren't used to stepping outside and dealing with forwards who can take the three. Hand-checks and picks got to her in the second half. Ali Curtis seemed to be the designated fouler when the foul derby began. She also had a pretty little shot in the lane.

I never thought I'd say this, but Mallory Jones was a huge part of why we won this game. She hit outside shots to open up the paint that Harvard was clogging, and with her build, she was able to make space on the inside. Watching her run a fast break is still somewhat of an oxymoron, but she came through with the skills we needed from her. Sandra Udobi was outmatched in the post. She tried hard, but it was clear that she was in over her head. Jade Walker gave some goo dminutes off the bench, but she too looked like she was in over her head with Harvard's forwards. Keylantra Langley only hit her shots when it counted, which is is what I keep telling people- she only hits shot when the clock is running down, that should be the only time she's allowed to shoot. She was good defensively, too, called upon to counter the Crimson's outside attack.

Ashley Perez looked scared out of her mind out there. Does she not think she's ready for the responsibility? We needed her in the second half, and whether she was injured or just off her game, we couldn't bring her in. Amber Thompson was strong inside, though she had issues finishing, and two of her fouls were ill-considered (though the fifth was cheap- legit, but cheap). She got the crowd roaring early on with a resounding, emphatic leaping block of a three-pointer. Briana Brown had to deal with foul trouble, but she's still the captain, and she came up with a big three late in the game to stretch the lead. Aliyyah Handford had a little more trouble than usual getting into the lane in the first half, but was more successful in finding the seams in the second half, also turning steals into offense. I kind of wish she'd find a jump shot, but she's only a sophomore, I'm sure that'll come in time. Today was Aaliyah Lewis's coming out party. She saw that Aliyyah was having trouble getting going in the first half and became more assertive about looking for her shot. She backed off it a little bit in the second half, but at that point she started to use her quick hands and blazing speed to hit fast break lay-ups. She looked good.

A lot of contact under the basket went uncalled. We were unamused. The fouls didn't seem evenly distributed; then again, I was wondering whether Briana Brown was going to get called for her fifth.

Appropriate that one of the Chuck-a-Duck prize winners today was a guy in a BC cap (given that the proceeds go to a Boston College alumna's care).

Good crowd for a non-conference game. Hope they keep coming back.

On to Auburn- let's hope we have better luck with this SEC foe.

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