St. John's 72 Texas A & M 70: They needed that one

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

New York City- The St. John's women held on for a significant victory in the first game of the Maggie Dixon classic. The victory at Madison square Garden improved the Red Storm to 6-4.

The numbers: St. John's used 70 possessions, Texas A & M 68.

The offensive efficiency : Not too surprising, were even at 103. The game saw six ties and a dozen lead changes.

In the Four Factors, St. John's battled A & M's size to post a 52-44 per cent advantage in offensive rebounding percentage. The Storm forced the Aggies into a 24 per cent turnover rate. That was offset though, by a 30 per cent rate of their own.

The deciding play. Score tied, St. John's in possession. Aliyyah Handford at the top of the key put a move on, beat a defender and laid it in for the deciding bucket.

Comments of note :

Coach Joe Tartamella: " Very proud of our team for their effort. The way we were able to stay ahead or come back, finish the game, answer their runs, convert at the end of the game for the free throw line, a lot of things we had talked about."

Eugenia McPherson on the victory: " It's good for us to come back from previous losses. This was great, I think we're going high now from this game. I' m glad we got everybody back. And healthy."

Aliyah Handford : " We played as a team and when we stopped what they wanted to do, we played aggressively and took over."

Three keys:

1 . Not giving up. St. John's held the lead and weathered the opposition runs the final twenty minutes.. After the formal post game presser ended Aggie coach Gary Blair admitted, " if we could have gotten that second half lead I think it would have been a different outcome." Momentum is a fleeting thing. when you have it as the Storm did , it can be the difference.

2 . Offensive penetration. . St. John's, as noted, got he game winner on Handford's penetration.. " They split our defense the whole game., " Blair said of St. John's. " It just wasn't that play but all day they broke our defense down."

3. Effort.. St. John's worked hard the entire 40 minutes. They won the overall board battle 34-29 against the taller Aggies'. Karla Gilbert, the Aggies 6-5 center., led the way with 15 points but was defended and worked for her points. A & M leading scorer Courtney Walker was held to 8 points ( below her 14 ppg average ) on 2 of 11 shooting.

Handford paced all scorers with 27 points as St. John's improved to 6-4. Texas A & M is now 7-4. In the glow of victory Tartamella admitted hard work still must be done. At times the guards over dribbled versus the A& M 1-3-1 zone and some decisions in the final two minutes begged questioning and/or were carried out in haste. still, a nice win heading into he holidays. Posting it at MSG, all the sweeter.

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