Just the Facts, Ma’am: Aliyyah Handford had 23 points and 10 rebounds to power St. John’s to a 77-63 win over Fordham in second-round WNIT action. Emily Tapio had 19 points to lead Fordham.
For bittersweet farewells, lost shoes, rhythmic clapping, wardrobe changes, dueling bands, and never winning raffles, join your intrepid and conclusive blogger after the jump.
Off with the blue, on with the red. Can’t stay in the Big Dance, time to hit the Medium Dance. Still got some of our Jersey girls playing. Sleep off the heartbreak at Gampel, hit the road with hope for Carnesecca. It’s a battle for the heart of the city, as the Fordham Rams come to Queens to play the St. John’s Red Storm.
I think the event staff at every staircase is a little excessive today, given that we have approximately 20 people in the stands so far, not including the Fordham band. Official attendance was about 300. I am disappointed.
The Mighty Sound of the Red Storm is back in action, and ready to rumble.
D’awww, one of the Fordham players is wearing the Senior Day shirt.
In addition to their band, Fordham brought their mascot and cheerleaders. Their cheerleaders have flags, unlike the poor guy from Seton Hall last night.
At halftime, St. John’s is up 38-32, in a game that’s been a lot faster than I think anyone expected. Fordham likes to slow it down, but they’ve been content to run with the Red Storm. Aliyyah Handford is back to herself, with 19 points and some athletic rebounds. She’s such a joy to watch, honestly.
Fordham has brought a lot of fans along for the ride, and they’ve been loud. Fortunately, a fair number of Johnnies showed up to counterbalance them. I think some of the guys from the men’s team have joined us.
Strong contender for worst feeling in the world: your raffle ticket is one off a winning number. There are a lot of raffles today, though. It’s a fan appreciation day. All I want is the UA skyline socks.
Our over-quota dancers have been exiled to the bleachers during the game. At least it helps us get the crowd noise going.
Fordham found their offensive groove in the second half, stylistically, but the game was still moving fast enough that St. John’s was able to maintain control, and by the end, we were able to penetrate their defense with relative ease.
Khadijah Gibson came in near the end of the game when it was a lost cause and the seniors were getting their curtain calls. Danielle Padovano got a lot less time than I was expecting and really made no impact. Danielle Burns was first off the bench in both halves, but was so little of a factor that my loyal traveling companion (who knows Fordham better than I do) thought she hadn’t played at all. Asnate Fomina brought a little bit of shooting, but nothing on the defensive end. (The box score also shorted her a missed free throw.) Taryn Durant brought a little bit of defense, but not much else.
Tiffany Ruffin played with the speed and passion of a player who knew that this could be her last game, especially in the latter part of the second half. She drove through the lane fearlessly, though not recklessly. I have to admire her toughness on both ends of the floor. G’mrice Davis missed a couple of early shots and got bodied up a little by the defense, and I think that got into her head a little bit, or more than a little bit. She rebounded decently, but she was not fully engaged in the game. Samantha Clark stretched the floor a little, and was certainly tough on the inside (seriously, do not run headlong into this woman, it does not end well for you) but committed stupid turnovers. Hannah Missry put a scare into us early with her stroke, but that was all she could muster for Fordham- even her one 2-point field goal was a long jumper. Once we stayed on her, she was a non-factor. Emily Tapio was great- hitting jumpers and going to the basket, rebounding, setting screens. She threw a couple of really nice head fakes to get good passing lanes or space to move closer to the basket.
I wasn’t expecting Fordham to try and run with us, and I don’t think they were either. Their offense became more deliberate, albeit not ponderous, in the second half.
Tonoia Wade sighting! I don’t know what took Joe so long to find her at the end of the bench, but she came in near the end of the game and made a couple of nifty defensive plays. Tamesha Alexander came in around the same time. Kyra Dunn had some really good rebounds today- there were at least two that she seized with both hands and held on to, which is unusual for her. Imani Littleton played briefly and did nothing of import. Crystal Simmons looked really lost. Except for Kyra, this wasn’t exactly a strong game for the Red Storm’s bench.
Fortunately, when Aliyyah Handford drops 19 points in the first half, you don’t necessarily need bench production. She looked more like herself, even in the second half when Fordham was doubling her. Her energy was back and her smile was back. Danaejah Grant had some issues with the rim, but got more of her shots to fall in the second half. Jade Walker committed dumb fouls and mistakes on defense, but her shot was going in nicely, both at the basket and from the midrange. Amber Thompson hit the boards and cleaned up missed shots. Aaliyah Lewis ran the show smoothly. I think I might have liked to see her take some more shots, but I think things worked out well today.
Not much to complain about with the officiating, other than that time Aliyyah took a forearm to the face from Fomina with no call.
Your funny moment of the game: as the second half was about to get started, Liyyah clapping along with “Thunderstruck”.
Your maturity moment of the game: Crystal Simmons, badly out of position on defense, makes a weak swipe that ultimately results in Amber Thompson committing a foul. As soon as that whistle blows, Aaliyah Lewis calls everyone together and rips Crystal a new one for being out of position. I love that kind of leadership from a young player.
Your ‘do not taunt happy fun band’ moment of the game: Fordham’s band played “Seven Nation Army”, a major piece in our band’s repertoire. As it happens, our band has recently added a bass. So, as the victorious Red Storm ran off the court, the band played not “Mars” (our fight song of sorts, because the Red Planet is appropriate for the Red Storm, and Holst is for the win), but… “Seven Nation Army”, and proceeded to kick Fordham’s butt in that regard as well. Seriously, do not mess with Kevin.
These will likely be the last Game Notes of Doom you’ll see this year. St. John’s is off to Villanova for the next round, and while I’ve done Philadelphia, I can’t do it mid-week. So, if this is the end of my chronicles of the regular season, it’s a good ending. I hope you’ve enjoyed my rambling, babbling, and incoherent muttering. And if you haven’t, well, you’ve got a month or so’s break before I head to Mohegan Sun for the draft, so you can sigh in relief.
To the teams that I love, thank you. Best of luck to my Johnnies and my Wolverines, still dancing in the WNIT. Best of luck for next year to my Pirates, my Gaels, and yes, my Rams. Thank you for the stars and the shining moments, the milestones and the magic numbers.
Thank you, Amber, Selina, and Kyra. Thank you, Janee, Ka-Deidre, Daisha, and Chizoba. Thank you, Damika. Thank you, Liz, Taryn, Tiffany, and Emily. Thank you, Shannon, Nicole, and Cyesha.
See you in the summer!