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St. John's Senior Briana Brown Beats Buzzer, USC In NCAA Opener

Monday, March 24, 2014

KNOXVILLE, TN (March 23, 2014) - St. John's senior guard Briana Brown’s only basket of the game came with four-tenths of a second left to beat the buzzer and the University of Southern California (USC) 71-68 in the opening round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships at the University of Tennessee on Saturday night.

Brown’s 3-point basket culminated a thrilling comeback that saw St. John’s battle back from an 11-point deficit in the first half.

"I knew I hadn't made a shot the whole game, but my teammates were behind me saying you're going to make the next one,'" Brown said. "It happened to be the big one."

Aliyyah Handford led the #8 seed Red Storm (23-10) with 27 points and 4 assists for the victors who play #1 seed Tennessee (28-5) in Knoxville on Monday night for the right to advance to the Sweet 16. Amber Thompson added 10 points and 17 rebounds for St. John’s while USC’s Brianna Barrett tallied 24 points for the Trojans in defeat.

St. John's, participating in their fifth-straight NCAA tournament, called a timeout with 25 seconds remaining and the game tied at 68-all to set up the winning play. St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella noted, “We wanted to make sure we took the final shot,” and his prophetic words came true as fellow senior Keylantra Langley fed Brown with a perfect pass to set up the last second heroics.

The game featured a combined 54 fouls and 64 free throws. St. John's hit 27 of 33 from the charity stripe to keep them close throughout the contest.

St. John's first lead of the game came with 3:07 left when Langley (9 points) scored inside for a 66-65 advantage. Amber Thompson's basket gave St. John’s its biggest lead at 68-65 with 1:39 left before USC’s Ariya Cook tied the game with a 3-pointer with 1:19 to play. It was USC’s first basket since the 8:02 mark of the second half as the Red Storm’s defense put the clamps on the Trojans late to swing the momentum of the game.

Fifth year redshirt senior, Eugeneia McPherson, who added nine points, four assists and three steals, summed up the wild finish in the locker room after the game.

"We've actually practiced that play, and I always tell my head coach I hope it never comes down to it because every time we practiced it we missed it,” McPherson admitted. “But we made it when it counted, especially for our senior (Brown) to hit the shot."