Nov. 12, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. - No. 25 St. John's led by as much as 10 in the second half, but St. Bonaventure went on a 17-4 in the last six minutes to rally back and win 64-58 in the 2011-12 season-opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena.
St. John's, who is missing senior Da'Shena Stevens for the first four to six weeks of the season, had three players score in double figures including a team-best 14 from junior guard Eugeneia McPherson who made the 10th start of her career and redshirt sophomore Mary Nwachukwu with 10 points off a perfect 4-of-4 shooting and 2-for-2 from the foul line. Junior guard Shenneika Smith added 12. It was Nwachukwu's first game for St. John's as she transferred from Boston College after the 2009-10 season.
For the Bonnies Megan Van Tatenhove scored 16 points and Jessica Jenkins added 14.
On the boards, it was rookie Amber Thompson who made an immediate contribution with a team-best six rebounds. Thompson contributed 22 minutes in her career-debut.
"We need to get better. We made great runs - we just couldn't sustain them," remarked head coach Kim Barnes Arico, who tipped off her 10th season at St. John's on Saturday. "Our conditioning and our execution down the stretch of the game needs to improve, in addition to our defense. We're a young tea and we will continue to improve at practice and we're definitely going to get better."
Sophomore guard Keylantra Langley had a near double-digit game as she netted nine points.
The Red Storm (0-1) led the Bonnies (1-0) at the half, 34-29, after Langley pulled up a jumper on the baseline in the final seconds of the period. St. John's led by as many as 13, 29-16 at the 6:02 mark in the first half after Nwachukwu hit a bucket on a pass from McPherson.
St. Bonaventure led through the first eight minutes of play before Smith answered with back-to-back inside shots, including a fast break lay up that took her baseline to baseline before the Bonnies could catch up.
The Bonnies had pulled within three, 32-29, with less than 20 seconds left in the half after a long ball from Chelsea Bowker. Langley's jumper down low shifted the game flow back in St. John's favor.
Coming in off the break, St. Bonaventure kept it close through the first five minutes coming within one, 36-35 with 15:18 to play. St. John's went on a quick 6-0 run, and extended its lead to seven, 42-35, with two buckets by Nwachukwu and one inside from Smith.
Free throws and a 3-pointer got the Bonnies within two again with 12 minutes remaining, but once again, the Red Storm swung the game's momentum into their favor going up 54-44 with 7:46 to play. McKenith hit Smith with a long cross-court pass that went from the Lou Carnesecca sign to the baseline for the 10-point advantage.
The Bonnies continued to press on and by 4:09 on the clock had cut St. John's lead to one, 54-53. On the next possession, St. Bonaventure took the lead 55-54 on a layup fro Van Tatenhove.
A made free throw by McKenith at 2:21 tied the game at 57-57, the fifth tie of the game, but the Bonnies pulled away for the victory.
McPherson played a career-high in minutes as she moved into the starting shooting guard position. Junior Jennifer Blanding made her first career start and won the opening tip. Redshirt senior guard Tesia Harris made her debut in Queens with four points.
St. John's will look to bounce back and even the score with its Atlantic-10 opponents as the Red Storm welcomes La Salle to Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Wednesday's tip off is slated for 7 p.m.