By Laura Amato
The Red Storm ran into a wall.
The St. John’s women’s basketball team suffered a season-ending loss March 23, falling 60-40 to Michigan in the WNIT Round of 16.
The Wolverines’ defense stymied St. John’s down the stretch and the Red Storm notched just 10 total points in the final 20 minutes of play.
“I thought we did a terrific job throughout the first half and struggled mightily in the second,” Red Storm coach Joe Tartamella said. “Certainly we are disappointed with the outcome, but we are proud of our team’s accomplishments this season.”
St. John’s came out firing in the first half, jumping out to a one-point lead at the break, but the Red Storm weren’t able to maintain the same offensive momentum down the stretch.
Michigan locked in on defense throughout the second half, giving St. John’s fits in the final two quarters of play. The Red Storm shot just 5-of-26 from the field in the second half and Michigan jumped out to a 42-36 lead with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
The Wolverines went on a 13-6 run in the period – sparked by senior Siera Thompson who packed her stat sheet with eight points, six boards, three assists and two steals – and St. John’s couldn’t find an answer as the minutes continued to tick away.
Michigan closed the third on a five-point run and took a 43-36 lead into the fourth, effectively setting the Red Storm back on their collective toes.
Jade Walker notched the first points of the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines answered with a 12-point run that spanned nearly five minutes of action and the Red Storm couldn’t find an answer.
It was a frustrating finish for St. John’s – in a season that was full of ups and downs – but there was still a bit of history to be made, even in the loss.
Senior guard Aaliyah Lewis became the program’s all-time career leader in games played, suiting up for the 134th time in the postseason tilt. The Staten Island native finished with five points, four rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes of action.
Walker also packed her stat line with 10 points and five rebounds, going 5-of-10 from the floor before fouling out. Maya Singleton added 12 rebounds, blocked five shots and added six points, while Alisha Kebbe chipped in nine points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal.
The Red Storm graduate four players this season, but bring back a core of underclassmen who, despite the early exit, gained valuable experience in the WNIT.
It wasn’t a pretty finish, but St. John’s is certain it was one that will only serve to help the squad next season and, most importantly, wrap up its seniors’ career in March.
“I’m really proud of our players for the season they were able to put together, “Tartamella said. “And [I’m] certainly happy that our seniors were able to go out playing in the postseason.”