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St. John's Red Storm Steps Up Second Half Defense For the Win

Just the Facts, Ma'am: St. John's held the Lady Panthers of Prairie View scoreless for stretches of five and seven minutes in the second half to claim a 66-50 comeback win. Eugeneia McPherson led the Red Storm with 20 points, also notching five steals. Kiara Etienne led all scorers with 27 in a losing effort for Prairie View.

For debuts, excitement, lots of purple, eyebrows being raised, and really good-looking wings, join your intrepid and chilly blogger after the jump.

There's something discomfiting about being down by a hefty margin to Prairie View in the early going. We were sloppy, and we missed having a steadying hand at the point to keep us from doing too much stupid stuff.

Attendance disappointed me greatly. Promotion needs work. Even luring Liberty fans with the tantalizing promise of Teresa Weatherspoon doesn't appear to have worked.

Prairie View looked like they were going with a short roster, and banking on the success of SWAC bowling in the design of their warmups. (Which is not to disrespect SWAC bowling; I had an acquaintance who bowled at a SWAC school, and it's SRS BZNS there. But bowling and basketball have different design sensibilities.)

A fair whack of the band was at the Holiday Festival at the Garden for the men's game, so they filled in with alumni and other substitutes. They didn't do a bad job, which is good. Our band has been hit or miss, to put it delicately. They did the anthem, and it wasn't bad.

Our PA announcer wasn't quite sure how to pronounce LaReahn Washington's first name when she first entered the game; as near as I can tell, it's a variation of Lorraine. She demonstrated a fondness for diving that would have made Mery Andrade proud. We didn't like her very much; she was rather fond of plays that were just this side of dirty. Kathryn Jackson played briefly near the end, and she moves pretty well for a big girl. Asha Hampton-Finch was in a lot, and I remember her being tall, but I can't think of anything else she did in the game.

Larissa Scott was rendered a non-factor because of the fouls. She positioned herself pretty well as a screener, opening up shooters, but not much else. Kiara Etienne stole the show, especially in the first few minutes, when she had 13 of Prairie View's 15 points. She impressed me with her shooting, especially from outside, but doesn't seem to know when to stop. Reaching with six seconds left in a game you've lost by 16, and then complaining about the call, is perhaps not the brightest move in the world. I seem to recall Latia Williams having a decent defensive game, but too much time has passed and I'm easily distracted. Michaela Burton looked pretty good for the Lady Panthers as well.

I have no idea how Tesia Harris's shot goes in. She puts it up like a shotput, and for a fair amount of time, it doesn't go in. But I don't understand how it ever does. She and Briana Brown both got additional time because of the injury to Nadirah McKenith, and I think Tesia made better use of it than Briana; Briana looked too much like a player who was rusty and uncomfortable with actual playing time, which is one of those cycles that has to be worked through, because yanking her makes the problem worse. Jennifer Blanding, folk hero of the masses (or at least the pep band) got to make a cameo, and it always impresses me how well she calls for the ball- the way she establishes position is almost textbook. Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin put in a little time, and tried to do some good stuff. But most importantly of all, St. John's got Da'Shena Stevens back. I won't deny that it did my heart good to see her back in uniform. She's still rusty, but her defense is on point. We've missed her quick hands. Haven't missed her sketchy free throw shooting, though. Come mid-January, we'll be fine.

Especially if Keylantra Langley keeps maturing. I've given her a lot of flack over the last season and change, but she's coming into her own. She's much more suited to a 2/3 role than the point guard role she'll be playing while Nadirah's out, but she's stepping up to the plate there. I also like what I'm seeing out of Eugeneia McPherson. She's choosing her spots and she's stepping up. She played the passing lanes hard today. Shenneika Smith's always a threat, and she'll come up with the big shot, but she seems to be receding lately. Maybe it's just that there hasn't been as much opportunity for her to get to the rack, which is her strength. Mary Nwachukwu, I am starting to give up. Stop staring at rebounds. Grab them. I like the little midrange shot, but we're going to need more than that, even with Da'Shena Stevens back. Amber Thompson couldn't hit the broad side of a barn in the first half, though she was getting good shots. She got better in the second half.

I don't know what was said in the Red Storm's locker room, but they need to bottle it and keep it for the BEast season.

I squeed a lot at our new assistant, but I have kvelled at length in the past about Joy McCorvey, so I will save you from my fangirling of the player whose jersey I wear.

I'm not sure what to think of Prairie View, beyond being duly impressed with Kiara Etienne. I suppose we'll know more tomorrow.