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St. John's Falls To No. 23 DePaul In BIG EAST Final, 65-57

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Red Storm hit 8-of-14 of its 3-point attempts while allowing its opponent just three makes on 15 tries from behind the arc and held the conference’s top-scoring offense 19 points below its season average but it wasn’t enough to prevent top seed DePaul from claiming the 2014 BIG EAST Tournament title, 65-57, over second-seeded St. John’s in Tuesday’s Final from Allstate Arena. The Red Storm drops to 22-10 on the year while the Blue Demons, who also claimed the BIG EAST regular-season title, improve to 27-6.

Sophomore guard Aliyyah Handford scored a team-high 13 points with six rebounds, five steals and three assists and was named to the All-Tournament Team after guiding St. John’s to its fourth BIG EAST Tournament title game and first since 1988.. The All-BIG EAST First Team selection scored a game-high 25 points in the Red Storm’s six-point Quarterfinal victory over seven-seeded Seton Hall on Sunday and 19 points in a thrilling 68-63 triple-overtime win over third-seeded Creighton in Monday’s Semifinals.

“Obviously we’re disappointed to not be able to come away with a win,” said St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella. “I’m so proud of our young ladies, though, and how they played in the last three days. Depaul did a great job, and congratulations to them and coach [Doug] Bruno. Our season is not over, is what I told our players in the locker room. To do something that our university hasn’t done in a long time, since 1988, says something. They know they want to get this opportunity again in the future.”

Senior captain Briana Brown joined Handford in double figures with 12 points on 2-of-4 3-point makes on Tuesday while senior Keylantra Langley came off the bench to hit all three of her attempts from behind the arc on her way to nine points. Freshman Jade Walker added eight points and four rebounds, including three on the offensive glass, to see St. John’s outscore DePaul, 17-6, in bench points. Senior Eugeneia McPherson added a 2-of-3 effort from 3-point as all three Red Storm seniors connected from deep in the first half, which saw St. John’s lead by as much as three before Seton Hall took a 30-29 advantage into the break.

Sophomore Danaejah Grant opened the second stanza with a 3-pointer to give the Red Storm a two-point edge, which would ultimately prove to be the team’s last despite St. John’s never being too far off the lead and mounting a number of comeback bids.

Brown continued the Red Storm’s hot shooting from behind the arc in tying the score at 35-all with 17:42 remaining, before Walker scored shortly thereafter to tie the score one final time at 37-all with 16:27 on the clock. The Blue Demons managed to open up a 44-37 lead with the midway point of the second half approaching before a long ball by Langley and field goal by Brown 21 seconds apart saw St. John’s remain within two points at 44-42 with 11:10 to play.

Langley hit another 3-point with 2:45 remaining to keep the Red Storm within striking distance at 57-53 with 2:45 remaining but that’s as close as St. John’s would get the rest of the way.

Held to 41.4 percent shooting and forced into 15 turnovers, the Blue Demons did most of their damage from the free throw line, converting 14-of-17 attempts including 12-of-15 after halftime. DePaul put four players in double figures and was led by Brittany Hrynko who scored 15 points.

The Red Storm will now await Selection Monday and the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday, March 17.

Most Outstanding Player
Jasmine Penny, DePaul 

BIG EAST All-Tournament Team
Brittany Hrynko, DePaul
Aliyyah Handford, St. John's
Katherine Plouffe, Marquette
Ka-Deidre Simmons, Seton Hall
Sarah Nelson, Creighton