Garden State Trio Leads Red Storm to 69-62 Win at Rutgers|
Nov. 19, 2015
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - In a contest against The Garden State's flagship public university, three New Jersey natives led the way for the Red Storm in a 69-62 victory over Rutgers on Thursday night at The RAC.
Jade Walker continued to her hot streak to start the 2015-16 season, tallying her third-straight game in double figures with a career-high 20 points on a nine-for-11 shooting effort from the floor. The junior from Maplewood, N.J., has now converted on 75 percent of her tries from the field this year (21-28). Walker also added six boards against the Scarlet Knights.
"Starting the season with three-straight road games is never an easy task and I thought this was a great all-around effort by our team," said Head Coach Joe Tartamella. "I thought we executed our game plan well throughout and handled their late run to finish the game. When you can have three players finish in double figures it's always a big lift, including contributions from the bench."
Danaejah Grant picked up her first double-double of the season, pouring in 16 points and grabbing 11 boards. The senior guard also tallied a career-high four steals. The Piscataway product reached the 1,000-point mark for her career, finishing the game with a even grand. With 94 more points, Grant will become the 22nd player in the history of the program to reach 1,000 in a St. John's uniform, as she played the first seven games of her career at Clemson before transferring.
Rounding out the New Jersey trio was senior guard Aliyyah Handford, who scored 12 of her season-high 18 points in the second half to help seal the win for the Red Storm.
Aaliyah Lewis also filled the stat sheet for the Red Storm on Thursday night, registering nine points, seven assists and six rebounds in the victory.
Imani Littleton, starting her third-straight game, grabbed seven rebounds.
St. John's came out on fire to start the contest, outscoring the Scarlet Knights 8-0 over the game's first five minutes and forcing a timeout from the Rutgers bench. After the Scarlet Knights answered with a bucket, Lewis knocked down a triple, extending the opening run to 11-2 in favor of the Red Storm. At the end of the opening quarter, the Red Storm led 16-8.
St. John's held Rutgers without a point for the first 6:18 of the opening period and held a Scarlet Knights offense that had been shooting over 50 percent on the season to a 3-of-15 effort from the floor.
St. John's began the second stanza with five unanswered, extending the advantage to 13, 21-8, less than a minute into the action.
Rutgers cut the lead to as little as five, 27-22, near the midway mark of the second quarter thanks to a 10-2 run. Kahleah Copper had six points on the run, while Tyler Scaife contributed the other four.
From there, Walker scored five unanswered, including a triple, to build the lead back to 10, 32-22, with 2:44 remaining until the break. The junior would add two more points before the intermission, helping the Johnnies take a 34-24 lead into the locker room.
Handford scored the second half's first four points and Lewis added two more, as the Red Storm took its largest lead of the game so far, 40-24, less than two minutes into the quarter.
The Red Storm continued to exert its will on the offense over the remainder of the quarter, extending the lead to 19, 56-37, by the end of the period.
Rutgers kicked off the final quarter with a 9-3 run, trimming the Johnnies' advantage to 13, 59-46, with six minutes to go in the game. After Lewis bumped the lead back to 14 with a free throw, the Scarlet Knights began another offensive push, cutting the lead to just nine, 62-53, with under four minutes remaining.
The Scarlet Knights continued to fight, narrowing the deficit to as little as seven in the waning minutes, but the Red Storm always had an answer. A highlight dish inside from Lewis to set up a Grant layup pushed the Red Storm lead to nine with under a minute to go, effectively sealing the victory.
The Red Storm will return to Carnesecca Arena for its home opener on Sunday, playing host the Marist Red Foxes at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.