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Thompson, Red Storm, Clip Hartford's Wings

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Amber Thompson's 19 points and 13 rebounds powered St. John's in a 70-45 win over the visiting Hartford Hawks. Daphne Elliott led Hartford with 12 points.

For imaginary Girl Scouts (and no damn cookies), validation, adventures with Sharpies, swag, and short-term jersey loans, join your intrepid and most squeeful blogger after the jump.

Hartford is not the Hartford they once were. Maybe somebody didn't pan out, maybe Rizzotti didn't get someone she was expecting to get, maybe the pipeline shut down, but this bunch of Hawks didn't impress me. Something seems not right about it, though. But I'll take a 25- point win anywhere I can get it.

The anthem singer definitely knew how the anthem should be done. I don't know if she had the voice for it, but she had definitely gotten some training. I think after last time, they weren't going to stand for a bad anthem, especially when ROTC was presenting colors. (The ROTC instructor doesn't tend to appreciate that kind of disrespect, and he's the only person at Carnesecca Arena louder than we are.)

There was supposedly a Girl Scout event going on that day, but I didn't see many Girl Scouts. /Girl Scout salute from Junior Troop 4839/ Apparently my high school's team put in an appearance too. Nostalgia day much?

Hartford got some rough play off their bench. Alyssa Englert has one of the fastest free throw releases I've ever seen, and she uses her elbow brace like a weapon. I'm minded of how Barry Bonds used his pads and protectors to draw HBPs. She took Nadirah down pretty badly with no call, and got a little bit of her own medicine right back when Eugeneia ran into her and drew a block on her. Milana Gilbert was not making friends with her elbows and physical play down low. Cherelle Moore came on as an offensive spark, but didn't spark very much. I seem to recall Taylor Clark being small, fast, and annoying, but not much else.

Daphne Elliott fired off three quick baskets in the first half, the second off a gorgeous Ruthanne Doherty screen, but we clamped down on her in the second. Doherty has the strangest pronunciation of her surname I've ever heard. She went in on us in the second. Amber Bepko sounds familiar from somewhere, which is really odd, because she's a freshman and I haven't seen Hartford this year. I'm wondering if she has an older sister or something. She's got a nice little shot. Nikkia Smith has the most potential out of those starters, in my opinion. I'd like her to lay off the elbows when she makes that strong spin move to the basket, but as a basketball fan, I like strong spin moves to the basket. Alex Hall didn't do anything that I recall. I assume that Jennifer Rizzotti looks for distributing point guards.

I like Hartford's drills with the weak hand, and if their three-point shooting gets hot, they could be a dangerous opponent, but while this is a team that can compete against any non-BCS team you care to name, they look like they'll have trouble with teams that either have more size or more talent.

It was nice to see all the kids get into the game. Given how physically Hartford was playing, I might have put Mallory Jones in earlier- she's a big guard, and she's not afraid to use her body, so the Hawks might have thought twice about some of their shenanigans. Briana Brown didn't score, but pulled down a couple of nice defensive rebounds. Keylantra Langley brought clutch shooting, including a buzzer-beating three to end the first half, and strong defense. I think this is the kind of game I'd like to see from her on the regular- I don't necessarily need her to beat the clock every time, but I'd rather she take fewer shots and have them count, then focus more on her defense, than go crazy shooting. Jennifer Blanding and Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin worked together on one offensive rebound that chewed up a lot of time and resulted in a lay-up for Jennifer. Tesia Harris was back to looking lost, simultaneously not assertive enough and too aggressive.

I'm starting to think that Eugeneia McPherson is getting a reputation for diving and throwing up junk to draw a foul, because she was getting fewer calls than usual in the first half. She's starting to step up her offense, and if she can stabilize her shots, she might get more respect on them from officials. It was nice to see Mary Nwachukwu back in town, and I hope things are better for her. She looked a little tentative, which makes sense given how long she's been away from the team, but she seemed to adapt to that and focused more on boxing out and doing the little things to help her team win. Shenneika Smith's rebounding has been great, but her shot's been off. I think she's trying too hard to make herself an outside shooter, and that's not her strength. She's a slasher- she needs to slash to the basket and use her height and long arms to get things in there. Good things happen when she goes to the hole. Nadirah McKenith had one of her "how many columns can I fill in the stat sheet?" games, even if she wasn't getting the shots to fall. It didn't help that she was playing long stretches without a break- I think that wore her down faster than getting regular rests, but I'm not Kim Barnes Arico. It was kinda obvious when her reaction time slowed.

But this game belonged to Amber Thompson. This was her coming out party. (Not like that.) Da'Shena Stevens had UConn; Amber had this game. She was more assertive than I'd seen her in the first seven games; if she hadn't had some odd rolls and missed free throws, she could have gone for 25. As a freshman, she's producing as well as the senior we lost to graduation, Coco Hart. If she can develop, she could become a Crystal Langhorne kind of player. I'm psyched about her. It's been a while since I've been this psyched over a freshman, and even longer since I've been excited about a post.

This was the post-game autograph session game, so we lined up with the Girl Scouts and the random passers-by and waited our turn with poster in hand. Eugeneia ribbed us a little bit- "how many of these do you have?" (The answer, by the way, is five including this year's, or six if you include the signed scorecard from the big Georgetown game {which is in my cubicle}, or seven if you include the roster and the signed ball, or twelve if you count all the signed college posters, or thirteen if you also include the Mystics poster.) Da'Shena's thinking Chartwell's for her return, which is about right. I do not think it would be a good idea to bring her back against Baylor. Keylantra came in late, so we had to double back to get to her. Then my loving husband figured that we might as well get some of the coaching staff while they were glad-handing, so he grabbed my spare Sharpie and the poster and worked with them.

Meanwhile, I got official approval from the former owner of my jersey to keep it. Hey, I kept saying that if Joy McCorvey wanted her jersey back, she could have it. I got a chance to ask her today, and it was settled. And I was happy. (We all have our favorite exceedingly obscure player. We all stan for someone. Leave me alone.)

These officials... I think there's a Twitter slang for where they can go, but I don't remember which direction the arrow goes in. But honestly, how much undercutting do you allow before enough is enough? It got to the point where Kim Barnes Arico gave the three of them several large and PG-rated pieces of her mind before going into the locker room. I think they had the fear of Kim in them at the end; the calls were much more plentiful against Hartford in the second half. I expected better from that crew; Lynch, Lonergan, and Aliberti are experienced refs, and they're usually pretty solid.

If this wasn't an anomaly for Amber, and if we can work on our free throw shooting, and if we can find someone to be the outside shooter so our slashers can slash, and if Nadirah doesn't fall over from being run into the ground, we're going to be good.