Sometimes, all you need for a big win is the friendly confines of your home court.
St. John's proved that yesterday, using an athletic first half to establish a lead over Hofstra before putting on a defensive clinic in the second half to defeat the Pride 73-47. The Red Storm move to 2-1 on the season, giving head coach Joe Tartamella the win in his first home opener at the helm of the Lady Johnnies.
Below are some quotes and observations from the Red Storm's big nonconference win, as they now shift their sights to a Wednesday matinee with Iona College:
Head coach Joe Tartamella on his team's effort:
"From a defensive standpoint, I think we did a great job with what we tried to game plan for all week."
Senior guard Shenneika Smith (18 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals) on exacting revenge for last year's loss to Hofstra:
"When you get an opportunity to play a team again, you go back to what you know and you try to perfect it."
Senior guard Nadirah McKenith (24 points, 6 rebounds) on her performance:
"I was just trying to go out there and make a play for my team. Things just opened up for me to score."
Tartamella on taking Hofstra out of their element:
"We were able to get some of their key players in foul trouble, and that changed the complexion of the game in the second half. We had 29 points off turnovers...obviously that's a big piece to this game."
On St. John's playing Hofstra again and avenging a 93-82 loss from last season:
"We had more preparation than last year, which helped us."
On playing four guards:
"It's not something that's always ideal, but we have the depth and the personnel that can do it."
On junior guard Briana Brown (12 points, 4 rebounds):
"We always knew she had an ability to help us. Her impact has been extremely important."
On Shenneika Smith:
"She's a game changer...she brings confidence to our group. She brings another dimension."
St. John's won seemingly every facet of this game, particularly in transition. In addition to outscoring Hofstra 38-26 in the paint and 17-9 on second chance buckets, the Red Storm scored 29 points off 26 Pride turnovers. The Lady Johnnies also managed 13 steals and 12 blocked shots while forcing Hofstra into an uncharacteristic 28 pefcent (18-for-65) shooting effort from the field, including a 6-for-27 clip in the second half.
Shante Evans, far and away Hofstra's best player, was never able to find a comfort zone. As highlighted in our keys to victory, St. John's did a great job of double and triple-teaming the senior forward, limiting her touches and drawing fouls on the three-time all-CAA honoree. Evans finished the day with just 12 points and six rebounds, fouling out with 5:07 remaining in regulation to culminate a 4-for-10 afternoon.
The four-guard lineup that has become more common since former St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico started experimenting with it two years ago may not give the Red Storm the most physically dominating lineup, but the contributions are unparalleled. Between Shenneika Smith, Nadirah McKenith, Briana Brown, and Eugeneia McPherson, the backcourt quartet scored 61 of the 73 St. John's points, with 26 rebounds, 10 assists and 9 steals. For what it's worth, backup guards Aliyyah Handford and Ashley Perez managed eight points combined off the bench as well.
Finally, Tartamella will need more of the same effort in his next game. Iona College comes into Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday with a dynamic backcourt attack of their own, led by sophomore dynamo Damika Martinez, the reigning MAAC Rookie of the Year. The Rumble will have a preview of that game in the days to come.