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St. John's women announce non-conference schedule

From where we started to where we are now, I couldn’t be prouder - Joe Tartamella, at end of last season

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

St. John's women's team started last season with some early struggles, but much like the men's team, had a hot streak at the end of the year, making it to the Big East Tournament title game.

They finished at 23-11.

Yesterday, an experienced St. John's women's basketball team announced a non-conference schedule that brings challenges on the road and at home. And the women also feature a marquee matchup against an old rival, one of the best programs in the women's game.

The women's team starts its third season under coach Joe Tartamella.

"One of the trademarks of our program is that we will always test ourselves early with a challenging non-conference schedule," said head coach Tartamella.

And facing Connecticut, the defending National Champions and powerhouse of the women's game, is definitely a challenge. The Huskies will face St. John's in Madison Square Garden in the eighth annual Maggie Dixon Classic, on January 4.

The two games in the Classic honor former Army coach (and sister of Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon), who died of a heart arrhythmia in 2006. Connecticut, under Geno Auriemma, went 40-0 last season and has won back-to-back national championships.

The Red Storm start on the road against Yale, return to face SEC contenders Florida; the Red Storm faced Florida last season in Gainesville last November. St. John's also takes on Marist, a team that has won 11-straight regular season titles in their conference.

St. John's also hosts the Chartwells Holiday Classic on Saturday and Sunday December 20-21; their first opponent will be Auburn, another SEC team that defeated St. John's in Alabama last season.

There are some creampuffs in the schedule, as well, but most of the games are solid contests in or near New York; the team travels out of driving distance only once, to face South Florida.

St. John's returns stars Aliyyah Handford, who scored just under 17 points per game (fifth in the Big East) and was an honorable mention All-American; Aaliyah Lewis, Danaejah Grant, and forward Amber Thompson, who set the St. John's single-season record for rebounds with 313 last year. Freshman forward Jade Walker also came on strong late in the year.