Tuesday, March 8, 2016

St. John's dominant fourth quarter ends Creighton's cinderella run

                                    Photo Credit: Geno Green

In a game where points did not come at a premium, the St. John's Red Storm (23-9) emerged in the final quarter and outscored the Creighton Bluejays (17-17), 22-9 on its way to a 50-37 win in the BIG EAST Championship at McGrath-Phillips Arena on Tuesday night.

Coach Joe Tartamella reflected on the emotion of the Red Storm winning their first conference tournament title since 1988.

"1988, the battles with Carnesecca, it sticks out like a sore thumb," Tartamella said. "It's the one thing that's bothered me for 13 years at St. John's, and we've been able to change it now."

Cinderella story comes up short:

No. 7-seeded Creighton made an improbable run going four games in as many days, but fatigue finally caught up.

After scoring 23 points against Seton Hall, MC McGrory had a game to forget, going 3-of-17 from the field, but gave credit to St. John's for its overall effort.

"I think they just made some big shots in the last quarter that kind of took the wind out of our sails, and we weren't able to get much going ourselves offensively, and we weren't able to get much going ourselves offensively, and they just kind of got some energy from that," McGrory said.

Even in the loss, Flanery knows the future is bright with former conference Player of the Year Marissa Janning (fibula) slated to return next season from injury, along with McGrory's continued development as a floor general.

"Yeah, we have a chance to be very good," Flanery said. "My biggest thing is who's going to play because we've got a lot coming back and we're going to have a lot of guards, and so we may have to change our style a bit just to make things work."

The Red Storm's stifling defense held the Bluejays to 37 points:

The BIG EAST Most Outstanding Player recipient Aliyyah Handford finished with 11 points and four rebounds, but it was team defense which lended the helping hand once more for St. John's.

"We just knew that it all boils down to how we play on defense, and we shut them down in the fourth quarter," Handford said. "We were locked in. Our defense led to offense. Once we knew that we were getting stops, we had to score, go in transition, and that's what we did."

A rare feat:

No. 4-seeded St. John's became the third team outside of a top 3 seed in conference history to win the entire BIG EAST Tournament.

Red Storm guard Danaejah Grant knows about the grind of playing in the BIG EAST on a nightly basis and how much it can take out of any team.

"It says a lot about the conference. On any given night, it could be anyone's game," Grant said. "You can't come into the game thinking you're going to win because you're a higher seed or just because you might not have as many losses. You have to respect everyone every night."

Looking Ahead:

By earning the automatic bid, St. John's will await its seeding for the Women's NCAA Tournament on March 14, while Creighton's season comes to an end.

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