Just the Facts, Ma'am: Strong second half play from the Marquette Golden Eagles put away the St. John's Red Storm 63-55 at Madison Square Garden. Katherine Plouffe's 18 points and 11 rebounds led all players, while St. John's was led by the 13 points of Shenneika Smith.
For frustration, calling out, blue hair, comfy chairs, and a random Tamika Whitmore reference, join your intrepid and nail-biting blogger after the jump.
Ah, space, better seats, less beer, a chance to tease Mike Thibault about Tamika Bleeping Whitmore, and my team finally out on the floor. It's 32-28 St. John's at the half, and it could be a lot worse for the Red Storm, and it could be a lot better for them.
Security graciously let people move down after the swathes of Georgetown fans left from the first game. We're in some very plum seats near center court- 19, I believe, but don't hold me to it. I don't know how to read the new Garden numbers.
Nadirah McKenith seems to have decided that if her teammates aren't going to get the job done, she'll do it herself. Marquette took a lead shortly before the half, and then she scored three straight buckets to give St. John's back the lead. It's a shame that her teammates didn't follow her lead, and I want to take my clipboard and hit most of them upside the head with it.
Katie Young is either a Vinnie Johnson, doesn't usually come off the bench, or is streakier than a badly washed window, because otherwise there is no excuse for a shooter as good as she proved herself to be to come off the bench. She came in when Simmons went out with some eye irritation, or blood or something, and she erased our lead in two shots. She was clutch. Chelsie Butler brought the pain off the bench when Marquette needed a rest for their posts. The Golden Eagles played mostly a seven-woman rotation, with a smattering of players playing spot minutes.
Katherine Plouffe abused us inside. She did a great job on the boards and establishing position inside. Arlesia Morse got Marquette going early with her shot, which kept them in the game early, and I think that was important for them, to keep their heads in the game. Sarina Simmons wasn't the factor I was expecting her to be, but she was enough of a threat that St. John's had to keep an eye on her. Gabi Minix ran the offense well, and I have to be impressed with her stamina- she turns interesting colors, but she didn't sit down at all. Apiew Ojulu didn't make much of an impression on me.
Marquette brought few fans, but those fans were loud and vocal. Sir, I appreciate your team-colored glittering hair, but please don't disconcert our free throw shooters. Really. You're on the road. You should know better. We wouldn't do the same in Milwaukee.
I have no idea why Briana Brown was in this game. Don't get me wrong, she didn't play badly, but the way she went into the game was Kim Barnes Arico in full "throw spaghetti at the wall" mode. She was all right defensively. Tesia Harris made a cameo appearance and didn't impress. Keylantra Langley was streakier than usual, making big offensive plays but slacking a little defensively. Mary Nwachukwu, on the other hand, needs to be sat down for a very long lecture from her coaches regarding the responsibilities of a 6-2 post player, which start with REBOUNDING THE DAMN BALL. I'm sorry, but there is no excuse for a 6-2 forward who played stretches of the game as the only post on the floor, who was in for 21 minutes, to not pull down a single rebound. Mary, you don't have Stefanie Murphy and Carolyn Swords to hide behind anymore. You are the big girl. Get it.
If there was a game in which Da'Shena Stevens wanted to prove that she could be a leader as a senior, this was it. She stepped up late in the game to try and get it back, sacrificing her body to take charge after charge. The numbers don't necessarily show it, but she came to play today. Amber Thompson had some rough luck with the rolls, and the two quick fouls at the start of the second half pretty much wiped her out for the rest of the game, paving the way for Mary's sketchy play and Coach Barnes Arico's dodgy coaching. Eugeneia McPherson... one moment she'd make a great defensive play, and the next she'd throw up a wild shot in the lane and complain about the lack of a call. Stay with the play, Gina. Hit the shot and don't worry about the officials. (Worrying about the officials and giving them an idea of what they should be calling is our job. We got your back.) Shenneika Smith had some strong plays, but got burned on defense more than I'd like to see out of her. She's our tallest guard, so when Coach decides to go to some of her more esoteric lineups, she's often the three or the four. We need her to be tougher if she's going to be put in that position. Nadirah McKenith was very frustrated with her team at some points- I've never seen her get that "WTF?" with her teammates before. She wanted this game- she knew that her team needed this game, and she did everything she could to get them it.
Kim Barnes Arico, I would like to know where you got your stash, because those have to be some pretty potent substances you were ingesting to think that a four-guard set with Mary Nwachukwu as the only post would be a good counter to Marquette's big lineups. Shenneika at the four against Plouffe or Butler is a bad plan and you should feel bad for coming up with it. One thing I've noticed with her is that when she panics, her control freak comes out and she starts tinkering. Bad things happen when she starts tinkering, almost to the point of a DirecTV ad. ("When you start tinkering, you lose your team a halftime lead. Don't lose your team a halftime lead.")
These officials... it's a bad sign when both teams' fans are screaming at you to call a foul, whether it's a block or a charge, on a brutal collision near the end of the game, and all you can do is call the out of bounds. I don't care if you had called the block on Nadirah. I'd rather see the foul called on someone than run the risk of frustration fouls getting rougher and rougher and having someone get hurt. All game, they were letting scrums go on and calling held balls, or making procedural calls instead of foul calls. We were upset. The Marquette fans were upset. Kim Barnes Arico was upset. Terri Mitchell was upset. Everyone was upset, and everyone had reason to be.
Marquette answered the bell. I'll give them all the credit in the world for that. Now St. John's has to answer the bell against Rutgers on Tuesday if they want any shot of anything worth mentioning. This is the Big East. There's no margin for error. Compete and beat the teams you're supposed to beat, or go home.