St. John’s Controls Xavier, 64-55

Akina Wellere amassed 17 points, just three points shy of a career-high.
Jan. 29, 2017

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NEW YORK – The St. John’s women’s basketball team (15-7, 7-4 BIG EAST) controlled Xavier (10-12, 2-9 BIG EAST) throughout the contest on Sunday afternoon, topping the Musketeers, 64-55, at Madison Square Garden. The Johnnies starters paced the offense all game long, combining for 54 of the team’s 64 points. Junior Imani Littleton pulled down the second double-double of her career on Sunday afternoon.

“This was a win that has been a typical win for us throughout the last couple of weeks. Quick pace, slow pace, it was kind of a grind,” said Head Coach Joe Tartamella. “To be able to get a win, regardless of whatever the finishing score is, is important. I was really pleased with how we came into the game.”

Littleton picked up 12 points and 11 rebounds through just three quarters of action against the Musketeers. The San Diego, Calif., native shot a perfect 6-of-6 in the contest and picked up five of her boards on the offensive glass.

Sophomore Akina Wellere was the game’s leading scorer as she ended up with 17 points; just three points shy of a career-high. Wellere shot 6-for-11 from the floor and got to the charity stripe six times, converting on four of them.

Aaliyah Lewis fell just short of a double-double as she went for nine points and seven assists on the afternoon. The Staten Island, N.Y., native shot 3-of-3 from the free throw line and played the entirety of the contest.

Jade Walker accounted for 14 points including a crucial and-one late in the contest. The senior blocked two shots on the afternoon and added one assist.

In all, St. John’s converted on 45.3 percent of its shots from the field (24-for-53) and scored 34 points in the paint. The Johnnies were successful getting to and converting from the charity stripe, hitting 88.2 percent of its free throws (15-of-17). Xavier took advantage of 17 St. John’s turnovers as the Musketeers scored 23 points off of turnovers. However the Red Storm owned the glass outrebounding Xavier, 38-28.

St. John’s got the scoring going early inside in the first quarter, scoring its first six points in the paint. Lewis paced the offense throughout the quarter as she assisted on four buckets in the frame. The Staten Island, N.Y., native added three points in the quarter following an and-one with 2:14 to play, pushing the Johnnies to a 13-6 lead.

In the second frame, St. John’s started to heat up as the team shot 6-of-11 from the field for a 54.5 shooting percentage. The Johnnies went on a 14-8 run starting at the 8:44 mark, hitting 6-of-7 shots during the run including a Wellere triple from NBA range. Xavier called a timeout with 3:14 left in the frame, after a three minute scoring drought. St. John’s entered halftime with a 37-26 lead, with the starters accounting for 29 of the team’s points.

The pace of the game slowed down in the third quarter with both the Red Storm and Musketeers combining for 13 free throws in the frame. With 7:24 left in the frame Littleton scored a put back layup inside, getting her to double digits and getting the Johnnies to a 16 point lead, 44-28. Littleton grabbed her tenth rebound at the 6:29 mark, to secure the second double-double of her career. St. John’s opened up its biggest lead of the contest with 2:31 left in the third, moving up 19 on Xavier following a pair of Wellere free throws.

Despite trailing by 13 to start the final frame, the Musketeers battled back to draw within six with just 53 seconds left to play. Xavier’s Raeshaun Gaffney pulled down a rebound following a missed jumper and pushed up the court, drawing a foul with 0:53 in the contest. Gaffney would hit both free throws, cutting the lead to six. On the very next St. John’s possession, Walker converted an and-one in the paint, pushing the Johnnies lead back to nine. Walker would seal the game with a block of Na’Teshia Owens on the other end.

St. John’s hits the road next week for a weekend series at DePaul and Marquette. The Red Storm takes on the Blue Demons on Friday, Feb. 3, at 8 p.m., at Phillips-McGrath Arena in Chicago, Ill., on the BIG EAST Digital Network.



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