Back on February 18, 2012, St. John’s pulled off a stunning 57-56 upset of the UConn Huskies with a 33-year old Joe Tartamella sitting on the sidelines, apprenticing for Kim Barnes Arico as her associate head coach. Eleven years and three days later, Joe Tartamella now has his own statement win over the goliath Huskies as the Red Storm took down UConn on Tuesday night by a score of 69-64.
The Red Storm were able to withstand heavy defensive pressure and make the necessary plays as the game went on, playing with a heightened measure of control that was unseen in the 82-52 routing that St. John’s endured the last time they faced the Huskies.
It was not the prettiest of games. Both teams shot under 37 percent from the field and gave up a combined 26 turnovers and 37 fouls, but this was the style of play that St. John’s needed to embrace to pull off a program-defining win.
Every single player in the rotation stepped up and made a measurable impact on the game. Danielle Patterson had the game of her St. John’s career by scoring 20 points off the bench, with great efficiency; she provided consistent offense from inside the paint and beyond the arc.
Kadaja Bailey matched Patterson’s 20 points, with plenty of those points coming from the clutch free-throws to clinch this giant-slaying. Jayla Everett scored 17 points and mustered some very daring shots when it became necessary.
Jillian Archer and Rayven Peeples, while being held to a combined 2 points, were active on the glass and disrupted play inside, forcing the Huskies to shoot less than 45 percent from layups.
From the opening tip-off, it was clear that the fourth ranked team in the country was not coming with their best game. Both teams struggled to gain separation early.
St. John’s started 2-for-11, but the graduate student star Kadaja Bailey carried the Red Storm offense through the first quarter with 11 points and nearly matching UConn’s 15.
In the second quarter, St. John’s pushed their lead out by as much as 9 points on two different occasions, thanks to poised shotmaking by Jayla Everett. Meanwhile, the Huskies struggled to get any offensive rhythm started with the exception of lethal deep-range threat Lou Lopez-Sénéchal, as St. John’s entered the break with a 35-30 lead.
The Huskies began to look like their expected selves and jumped out to a 13-0 run to begin the second half. St. John’s looked like they were on the brink of letting this game slip away, not scoring through the first 6 minutes of game action, but the Red Storm were able to claw back. St. John's retook the lead thanks to 9 third-quarter points by Jayla Everett, including a mid-range jump shot in the dying embers of the quarter.
From that point forward, St. John’s was in front. A couple of late Dorka Juhász driving layups and a deep Lopez-Sénéchal threatened the Red Storm’s upset bid, but the Johnnies went 7-for-10 from the line to cement their first win over the juggernaut Huskies since 2012 and potentially a trip to the NCAA tournament.
St. John’s will come back to the friendly confines of Carnesecca Arena on Friday night for their Senior Night game against Georgetown (13-15, 6-13). A staggering eight Red Storm players will be honored prior to tip-off.