Just when it appeared that nothing could stand in St. John's way during a 4-1 start to the season under new head coach Joe Tartamella, the Red Storm were dealt a crucial blow.
After an MRI on Monday, it was revealed this afternoon that senior guard Eugeneia McPherson, an integral part of the program's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance last season, tore her right ACL in the Lady Johnnies' Sunday victory over Hartford, and will miss the remainder of the season. McPherson had been averaging 7.6 points and 2.6 assists per game through the first five contests.
"Gina has meant a great deal to our program's success over the last three years, and we will miss her on the court," Tartamella said in a press release. "We know she is disappointed, however, we know how hard she will work to get back, and she will be stronger than ever. Although not physically on the court, Gina will continue to be a leader for our team throughout the season."
McPherson will be eligible for a medical redshirt should St. John's decide to go down that road, as she will have missed at least 80 percent of the Red Storm's season when next season starts.
Assuming the Long Islander is granted a fifth year of eligibility, she will become the unquestioned leader of a backcourt that will be retooling after all-Big East selections Shenneika Smith and Nadirah McKenith graduate in May.
In McPherson's absence, the Lady Johnnies can be expected to rely more upon freshmen Aliyyah Handford and Ashley Perez. Both have made moderate contributions to start the season. Handford has averaged 4.4 points per game in 12 minutes; Perez has scored 1 point per game and hasn't gotten on track with her three-point shot yet.
Both will be looked to fill the fourth guard spot in Tartamella's lineup alongside Smith, McKenith and Briana Brown, who has made arguably the biggest and greatest strides for the Red Storm after playing sparingly in her first two seasons under former coach Kim Barnes Arico.
When McPherson does return, she need just 123 points to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau for her career. The senior was one of St. John's most durable players last season, the only member of the roster to start every game in a junior campaign that saw her average nearly twelve points per game while ending thirteen contests as the Lady Johnnies' leading scorer.
The 17/ 15 ranked St. John's next faces Boston University in Boston at 1PM on Saturday, and then a game against Duke without McPherson.