Dec. 8, 2012
QUEENS, N.Y. -
On Sunday, No. 25 St. John's will be on the hunt for redemption as the Red Storm will face No. 4 Duke in the seventh-annual Maggie Dixon Classic held at Madison Square Garden at 1 p.m.
Sunday's Tip Off Quick Hits.
St. John's played Duke just seven games ago, as the Blue Devils defeated the Red Storm in the 2012 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., on March 24. No. 2 seed Duke defeated No. 3 seed St. John's, 74-47, ending the Red Storm's postseason run. Sunday will be St. John's chance for pay back on stage at the World's Most Famous Arena.
St. John's and Duke will be the second game of a double header that starts at 11 a.m. when Rutgers takes on Louisiana Tech.
In its seventh year, the Maggie Dixon Classic is held in memory of the former Army Black Knights women's basketball coach. On April 6, 2006, 29-year-old Maggie Dixon, died from an undiagnosed heart condition. Over the course of her six months as head coach at the United States Military Academy, she led the program to unprecedented heights; the Black Knights played in their first Patriot League Championship and Dixon led her team to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Sunday is St. John's second appearance at the Maggie Dixon Classic. Last season, the unranked Red Storm was leading eventual national champion Baylor, 32-30 at halftime and maintained a 36-30 lead with 18:27 remaining. Then-junior Eugeneia McPherson led the Red Storm in scoring with 23 points and shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range. In the firs thalf, the Red Storm defense held Brittney Griner to just three shots.
Red Storm fans can follow Sunday's action from Madison Square Garden via GameTracker Live Stats on RedStormSports.com.
Overall, St. John's is 6-4 when playing at Madison Square Garden.
The Red Storm is not only looking for redemption, but also looking to rebound off the Dec. 1 loss at Boston University, 66-49. Sophomore forward Amber Thompson had her first double-digit scoring effort in the loss with 11 points. Thompson added eight rebounds. Senior Shenneika Smith had nine points.
Red Storm vs. Blue Devils - The Series
Sunday's meeting is the sixth all-time between St. John's and Duke in a series dating back to 1979. Duke is 4-1 in the series between the two non-conference rivals. The last time the Red Storm defeated Duke was on Dec. 21, 1979, the first-ever meeting between the two teams. St. John's won, 79-55.
The Red Storm and Blue Devils last met in the 2012 Sweet 16. No. 2 seed Duke defeated No. 3 St. John's, 74-47 on March 24, 2012.
Scouting the Blue Devils
Undefeated Duke (7-0) was picked as the Atlantic Coast Conference's preseason favorite as the Blue Devils return four starters from a 2011-12 team that advanced to the Elite Eight. Those starters include the National Freshman of the Year, Elizabeth Williams and junior guard Chelsea Gray, a USBWA All-American in 2012. Williams had a career-best 25 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks against Georgia Tech on Dec. 6.
Newcomers to the Duke roster include rookie guard Alexis Jones who was named ACC Rookie of the week after averaging 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals against Valparaiso and Xavier.
Currently, Williams leads the Blue Devils in scoring with 16.3 ppg with 6.7 rpg. Gray is close behind with 15.4 ppg. Haley Peters leads Duke on the boards with 7.7 rpg with 12.4 ppg.
Duke is the first ranked team St. John's will face. Although currently in the top 25, Texas was unranked when the Red Storm played them.
When Last They Met: St. John's vs. Duke
The Red Storm and Blue Devils last met in the 2012 Regional Semifinal in Fresno, Calif., on March 24, 2012. After defeating Creighton and Oklahoma in the First and Second Rounds in Norman, Okla., the No. 3 seed Red Storm went to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. At the Save Mart Center in Fresno, the No. 2 seeded Blue Devils defeated St. John's, 74-47. Forward Da'Shena Stevens played her final game for St. John's in Fresno, and led St. John's in scoring with 19 points. Stevens also added five assists.
Nadirah McKenith led the Red Storm with 11 rebounds, she also added eight assists.
St. John's controlled the first four minutes of play, as Stevens scored 10-straight points to help the Red Storm take a 12-7 lead by the first media time out.
Eugeneia McPherson extended the lead to eight, 15-7 with a 3-ball from the right elbow.
From there, Duke (27-5) began to rally and used a two-minute 10-2 run to tie the score at 17 with 10:42 left in the period.
Elizabeth Williams, who finished the game with 10 points, gave the Blue Devils its first lead of the game, 21-19, a minute later. McKenith had a no-look pass to Stevens who knotted the game at 21 with 7:50 on the clock. However, Duke went on a 13-0 run to lead 36-25 at halftime.
Coming back from the break, Duke led 52-33 and the Red Storm did not recover. The Blue Devils had four players score in double figures as Shay Selby led the way with 18 points. Tricia Liston added 15, while Chelsea Gray tallied 13.
St. John's vs. The Atlantic Coast Conference
St. John's is 1-4 against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference since the 2009-10 season. The last time the Red Storm faced an opponent from the ACC during the regular season was against then-No. 18/20 Maryland in the Terrapin Classic in College Park, Md., on Dec. 29, 2010. St. John's lost a close game to Maryland, 66-60.
Duke was the last ACC team the Red Storm played against and that was in the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2012.
Coaching Match Up
Joe Tartamella is 4-2 after making his coaching debut at the WBI Tip Off Invitational on Nov. 9-11. Tartamella earned his first-career coaching victory, 72-54, vs. UCF (Nov. 11). Tartamella has been part of the Red Storm coaching staff for the past nine years, moving up the ranks from graduate assistant to assistant coach to associate head coach; before he was hired as the eighth head coach in program history in April. He has been an integral part of four NCAA Tournaments appearances, with an undefeated record in the First Round, including St. John's run to its first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 in 2012.
Duke University's Joanne P. McCallie is in her sixth year as head coach of the Blue Devils. McCallie boasts a 148-32 record with Duke and a 464-180 record over her 21-year career as a head coach. She is 1-0 against St. John's.
On This Date in St. John's history
The last time St. John's played on Dec. 9 was during the 1999-2000 season. The Red Storm lost to Georgetown, 52-61 in Carnesecca Arena.
The last time St. John's won on Dec. 9 was during the 1986-87 season. St. John's defeated Northeastern at home, 54-48.
Overall St. John's is 3-2 when playing on Dec. 9.
Last Time Out: STJ 49, Boston University 66
The Boston University Terriers used a first half lead and 11-for-21 shooting from the outside to get a win over No. 17/15 St. John's, 66-49, at Case Gym on Dec. 1. For the Red Storm (4-2), sophomore forward Amber Thompson scored a team-best 11 points to go along with eight rebounds. It was her first double figure game of the season. Senior guard Shenneika Smith had nine points with seven rebounds for the Red Storm. She also added three blocks.
Boston University led 34-18 by halftime, helped by 42.9 percent shooting on 12-for-28 from the floor and 8-for-12 from beyond the 3-point arc. In the second half, the Red Storm held Boston University to just 3-for-9 from long range, but the eight 3's in the first half took its toll.
St. John's played down two starting guards on Saturday, as senior Eugeneia McPherson missed her first full game after a season-ending ACL injury (right knee) on Nov. 25 at Hartford. Senior point guard Nadirah McKenith dressed but did not play on Saturday due to back spasms.
Shenneika Smith recorded a career-best five blocks against Hartford (Nov. 25), giving her a season-total of 12 to date. For her career, Smith is No. 5 all-time with 105. As of the Dec. 4 NCAA statistical rankings, Smith is No. 15 of all Division I players and No. 2 in the BIG EAST. Smith has helped St. John's to a No. 6 ranking in the NCAA rankings. St. John's leads the BIG EAST with 6.5 blocks per game.
The St. John's men's basketball team also has been successful blocking opponents. The Red Storm men also lead the BIG EAST and are No. 4 in the country with 8.3 per game.
Smith Among BIG EAST Elite
Shenneika Smith is one of the conference's elite in career scoring. Smith is sixth in the BIG EAST with 1,334 career points to date. Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers is No. 1 with 2,025. She is followed by Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), Kayla Alexander (Syracuse), Monique Reid (Louisville) and Anna Martin (DePaul).
St. John's will host its fifth annual STJ-Chartwells Holiday Classic on Dec. 15-16. The Red Storm will host Tennessee Tech on Saturday at noon. UCLA/Saint Mary's will follow at 2:30 p.m. The consolation game will be played Sunday at noon, followed by the championship game at 2:30 p.m. All four games will be broadcast on ESPN3.