St. John's takes down Villanova

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Aliyyah Handford scored 17 of her 25 points in the second half to spark a second-half St. John's surge in the Red Storm's 69-56 win over Villanova. Handford's 25 led all scorers. Amber Thompson added nine points and 17 rebounds. For Villanova, Katherine Coyer had 18 points and six rebounds. For hurried rotations, hazardous traveling conditions, a little dipsy-do to seal the deal, too much pink, and resurgence, join your intrepid and anatine blogger after the jump.

Hello from the arctic tundra of Queens! We come to you live and in stereophonic sound from Carnesecca Arena, where it's Play4Kay against Villanova.

We've already heard the usual militant insistence that all things be pink. One guy said that I had to put the shirt on over my jersey or I'd have to give it back. First of all, rude. Second of all, the pink Play4Kay shirt I'm wearing is not this year's shirt. Third of all, you go call Ann Arbor and tell Joy McCorvey you told me to take off her jersey. Fourth of all, you go call my mother and tell her I don't support breast cancer survivors. Fifth of all, send the guy with the ducks over here, we've got twenty-five bucks waiting for him, because we believe in deeds, not words and empty gestures.

Of course, the pink jersey they have up for auction was Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin's, and I have more dignity than to wear the jersey of a woman who once mocked my husband during intros. Yes, I know whose jersey was whose based on the style and era. Don't try to put one past me. If it had been Jennifer Blanding's #15, or pretty much any other post's, I'd have been on it.

I like the pink and blue sneakers that a few Johnnies are rocking better than the pink and white. I don't know if the long pigtails work for Aaliyah Lewis, though. Someone's gonna end up whipped in the face, I know it.

Where are the ducks! I need the ducks to donate the money!

As usual, Villanova fans sit wherever they want, indifferent to the normal conventions of sitting in the general vicinity of their bench. I like the pink golf shirts that the Villanova staff is wearing, though. The Villanova V is well matched to it.

At halftime, St. John's is up 27-19, having closed strong after the game was tied at 18. Watching the offense of both teams has not exactly been happy fun times.

A family of Villanova fans insisted on setting up camp in our section, but they appear to have departed. You'd think being across from the St. John's bench, next to the band, and next to members of the men's team would be a good hint that this section is not a good place to wear the V.

There are two utterly adorable children playing on the drum kit during halftime, while the band grabs refreshment. They're more interesting than this confounded DJ, I'll tell you that.

We're giving up too many offensive rebounds, but so is Villanova, so that all washes out, I guess. We need to hit free throws and not let Nova get to the line. Also, Eugeneia McPherson is in dire need of the halftime break. I don't think she sat down once in the first half, and Joe was too scared to put Briana Brown back in with two fouls to give her a break.

Impressed with the turnout. It's been growing steadily. I approve. It's a little squished, but I like that.

I like beating Villanova. It's about the only thing I agree with UConn fans about.

I suspect that Perretta threw in the towel relatively early. With the foul differential being what it was, I didn't see him trying to work the officials the way I might have expected him to, and he went to the very deep end of his bench earlier than I would have expected. You should have heard the roar when Jessica Wamala scored- her teammates and the Nova fans who were sitting behind their bench cheered real loud for her. Samantha Wilkes got really grabby, and the law of the court caught up to her once- she shoved Briana Brown, and Amber Thompson proceeded to briefly introduce Wilkes to her elbow brace. Do not mess with the captain. Megan Quinn was tall. Taylor Holeman seems to play longer than her height- not to the extent that a DeLisha Milton does, but she has a long reach and good ups, and she disrupts well. I think she was hobbled by the fouls and not looking as much for her shot. Caroline Coyer got a lot of open looks in the second half and took advantage of several of them.

I miss Emily Leer's hook shot. She did fire one off, but she's starting to turn into yet another Villanova player who takes threes no matter her height. She got into foul trouble and griped about it a lot. Katherine Coyer impressed me less than her sister, though that may have been a matter of timing- the player who scored more in the second half will stand out more than the player who scored more in the first half. Devon Kane showed off one of the fastest first steps I've ever seen- she left her defender far behind her two or three times as she accelerated to the basket. I don't have clear recollectiosn of Kavunaa Edwards or Lauren Burford; they didn't play a lot, in favor of the somewhat deep Villanova bench. In case you hadn't noticed, Villanova plays an odd substitution pattern, and starting for the Wildcats isn't necessarily an indicator of how important a player is to the overall success of the team.

They were more aggressive than I remember them being, which isn't exactly saying a huge amount for Villanova. Honestly, though, we ran the clock down more than they did.

I was surprised that Joe went to Mallory Jones in the first half, but the move worked out, and I guess she matches up well with their system. She managed to garner a rebound and drain an open three. Jade Walker played very briefly, but was moving slowly and uncomfortably enough that she didn't play again. She looked out of place and out of position, nothing like the force of nature she's been for the last few games. Aaliyah Lewis ran a decent offense- nothing remarkable. Keylantra Langley was physical, but didn't have her best game in terms of common sense- stupid fouls, bad position, that kind of thing. Danaejah Grant took over a lot of the offensive load, or at least being an offensive threat. She missed a lot of easy shots, though the rim did her no favors.

I think the long minutes and the season are starting to get to Eugeneia McPherson a little bit. She looked really wiped by the end of this game. She picked up her shooting right when we needed her, but she still looked like she needed a long session in the ice bath. Briana Brown picked up two fouls in the first half, then spent the rest of the half on the bench. She came up with two huge shots in the second half to extend the lead. Amber Thompson owned the boards, as she so often does. She went hard after missed shots and cleaned up even the worst of attempts. I love when she's tough like that. Sandra Udobi played her usual brief minutes and then sat down. Aliyyah Handford decided to demonstrate that she was back. Her jump shot, such as it is, hasn't developed yet, but she was slashing to the basket and putting in some incredibly acrobatic shots again, like the Aliyyah of old. Just when we need her, coming down the home stretch of the conference season with a title in our sights and dreams of a high seed, too.

The rebounding was off the charts, and strengthened in the second half. Our defense slacked off a bit- way too many open shots, not enough pressure, which goes miles towards explaining the stunning foul differential in the second half.

This is part of how I knew Villanova had thrown in the towel sometime around the beginning of the fourth quarter: St. John's wasn't called for their first foul of the half until about the three-minute mark and Harry Perretta had bupkis to say about it. Most coaches, especially ones as demonstrative as Perretta can be, would have ripped the officials several new ones by that point. I don't necessarily know whether the calls themselves were good or bad, but that kind of imbalance tends to enrage a coach.

We bought our ducks eventually. Twenty-five dollars bought thirty-two ducks. As always, I nicknamed them before hurling them to their eventual fate: Tanya, Mallory, Wildwing, Ryan, Teemu, Lamichael, Jillian, Chrishae, Cathrine, Marcus, Kevin, Drake... one of them even won us a prize pack. I don't know whether this item is a backscratcher or an ice scraper, but either way it'll come in handy. The Chris Mullin bobble-head can go live in our men's sports community on top of one bookcase. The pennant will go on the wall. That kind of thing.

The train keeps on rolling, and I have to keep believing. It's time to hit the road for a rivalry game and for a rematch somewhere in middle America. We can do this. We're going to have to if we want any respect.

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