USA TODAY Sports
Just the Facts, Ma'am: St. John's took control with a 19-5 run spanning 10:36 of the first half to beat Seton Hall 72-46.. Shenneika Smith led all scorers with 18 points for St. John's. Ka-Deidre Simmons led Seton Hall with 14 points, the only Pirate in double figures. For rebounding, unexpected blocks, squee, and dancing, join your intrepid and achy blogger after the jump.
There are actually Seton Hall fans here, and I'll credit them for that. What? It takes nerve to be a women's fan at Seton Hall. Or a strong stomach.
Way too many people have left. I mean, really. They're offering you a free game and a chance to win an iPad, and you're still leaving? Even the student section left. The band's getting their food, though. Long day for them.
I like the graphics they've got for the Garden games. Why can't they use them at Carnesecca, though?
There appears to be some confusion as to which team has which bench. It doesn't help that the Garden configuration is different from the Carnesecca configuration. When in doubt, I'm going to assume that someone at Garden ticketing messed up, because they never seem to get things right when it comes to college.
Jennifer Blanding inactive for this game. That pink looks good on her!
Names on Seton Hall's black jerseys. This will be helpful, since they didn't do scorecards. I think this is a third jersey for Seton Hall. I like their blue better.
At half, St. John's is up 40-22 on the Hall, which is very satisfying. Aliyyah Handford is looking good, and we've seen extended minutes out of Sandra Udobi, which makes me happy. I'm a little worried about Nadirah's back- she had the pad on- but she's running a nice steady offense.
I assume the guys across from us are family from Our Lady of Victory, because they're acting during the halftime game like the husband and I do during the regular game.
Props to the Georgetown fans who stayed for this game- we're pretty sure they actually follow the Georgetown women as well. Always good to get some idea of your competition, huh? No, seriously, fans of Georgetown women's basketball are to be protected and cherished, for they are indeed a rare breed.
Seton Hall takes a lot of outside shots for a team coached by a former center. They got a little more focused on the inside game when the second half came around, but they started the game feeding Brittany Morris for jumper after jumper. It seemed kind of stupid, but since the Hall kept the game close in the first quarter or so before the defense really clamped down like the fist of God, maybe it wasn't a bad plan. (I didn't do the math until I got home, but for ten minutes of the first half, St. John's was on a 19-5 run. Basically, six minutes of shutout ball, then a shot and an and-1, then another four shutout minutes.)
I remember when Terry Green used to be a factor for Seton Hall. She did okay playing on the ball, but I barely remember anything else she might have done. Tabatha Richardson-Smith came in near the end of both halves and didn't make much of an impact- one badly missed three, some good rebounding for her size. Chizoba Ekedigwe still needs to be a better shooter to be a key piece for a Big East team (or whatever the Catholic Seven end up calling their basketball league), but there's something about her that holds my attention despite the lack of any concrete statistics to point to. Maybe she just has excellent carriage. Janee Johnson played a lot, but I don't remember any standout plays from her. Breanna Jones didn't exactly make herself popular when she ended up stepping on Briana Brown's face.
I don't know why so much of the offense was going through Brittany Morris, though part of that might be re-accustoming her to playing the off guard; I seem to remember her having to play point while Ka-Deidre Simmons was injured. In any case, I suspect she's better suited to playing point, but so is Simmons. I like the quickness of Simmons's hands and how she gets low on defense, and I think she's going to develop into a very dangerous guard very quickly, depending on how much eligibility she has left. She's got a little bit of a chip on her shoulder, but that's the only thing about her that really bothers me. Alexandra Maseko has foregone the elbow armor that evoked mental images of Barry Bonds, but she's still a little freer with the elbows than I like. I don't know if she wasn't looking for her shot, or if Donovan didn't want to go to her, or if our defense was really holding her down, but we shut her down. Brittany Webb is a load in the middle. Very tough for us to deal with. Alexis Brown did most of her work in the lane, cutting through the paint to create opportunities.
I thought Cedrica Gibson was going to explode with squee when she checked into the game for her very first official action. She's so adorable! She looked a little lost, but it's her first game, I'm okay with that. She'll pick things up. Ashley Perez also got some time at the end of the game, and at least her defense was on point. Sandra Udobi got a little first half run in addition to garbage time, and I liked what I saw out of her. I always seem to. Joe, Y U NO play Sandie more? Amber Thompson has to hit those chippies before I tear my hair out, because I love Amber's hustle and her rebounding and her blocks to itty-bitty pieces, but she's got to hit those easy shots in the lane (especially when Nadirah McKenith feeds her beautiful passes). Keylantra Langley's offense came out of hibernation, and suddenly she was hitting everything she looked at. She definitely looks bigger and stronger than she did earlier in the year. I think she's getting ready to play the three next year with Shenneika gone and a huge logjam in the backcourt. I do think it was a bit selfish of her to go for her own shot when the freshmen were on the floor and hadn't scored.
I hope Briana Brown's okay. She took a hard hit to the head and face and had to be helped off the floor to the locker room. She was showing her usual hustle on the boards and determination to defend whoever she was assigned to, even if that someone was Maseko, who outmasses her by a bit. Her shot was a little off, especially beyond the arc. Mary Nwachukwu fought through foul trouble, which severely limited her minutes, but she didn't look completely lost. Nadirah McKenith got a little shaken up when she hit the stands going for a loose ball, but that was late in the game (which gave Ced her chance to get in; she was the sub). She filled the stat sheet all over the place, though I still can't believe she snagged four blocks. Shenneika Smith's shots were either beautiful or bad- no in-between. It was almost literally half nothing but net, half what were you thinking. Aliyyah Handford stole the show in the first half. Everything was going in for her- we were surprised when she missed a wide open lay-up that the Seton Hall defense had parted like the Red Sea for on.
The team just clamped down hard on defense and didn't let up until it was late in the game and the lead was steady around 20. They hit big shots at the right time. They worked the boards- their second possession of the second half included five rebounds and took just over a minute off the clock. There were a couple of cringe-inducing moments, but otherwise St. John's played really, really well.
One awkward moment during the t-shirt toss- they started using last year's video. I realized it when I looked up and went, "Zakiyyah, WTF?" We tried to figure out if they would accidentally show Da'Shena. They did. A couple of people probably wondered who that was in the #3 jersey.
There was a surprisingly large cadre of Seton Hall fans in the house. I didn't think that many people followed the Pirates. More power to them! Fans for ALL the teams!
Those kids from Our Lady of Victory turned out to be really great to watch the game with. They had fun making noise and learned quickly how to respect the game. When Briana got hurt, one of them called out, "Is she okay?" About two beats later, one of his friends answered back, "Does she look like she's okay?" Since she was lying on the floor with her hands over her face, looking like she was seeing fourteen of everything, it seemed self-explanatory.
We were sitting next to the kid who won the free iPad. I swear, they keep saying they're looking for the loudest fans in the arena, and yet they never find the people who relay the cheers from the cheer squad to the dance team.
Speaking of the dance team- my goodness, their routines today were awesome! Amazing gymnastic work and great synchronization. They look sharp for nationals, and I don't even know when nationals are.
I feel like I should be writing more about this game, but I've run out of words. I'm happy with how we played, and I'm looking forward to the Pitt game.