TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- St. John's came into the NCAA women's tournament still angry over its loss in the Big East tournament.
They took that frustration out on Princeton.Da'Shena Stevens scored 19 points, Shenneika Smith added 13 points and 12 rebounds and the sixth-seeded Red Storm ran away from the 11th-seeded Tigers 65-47 Saturday in the first round of the Dayton Regional."We played hard, we played physical, we matched their intensity and exceeded it at times," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "And I thought we did a tremendous job on the defensive end and really took away their strengths. I'm just pleased to be still playing."St. John's (25-6) will play Florida State (27-5) in the second round Monday night.Nadirah McKenith and Centhya Hart each scored 10 for the Red Storm, who were sharp despite a 13-day layoff after losing to Notre Dame in the Big East quarterfinals, outscoring Princeton 27-8 over the final 15½ minutes of the first half and easing home from there."I know the big question was how we were going to come out after so much time off," Barnes Arico said. "I think that our team really stepped up."Niveen Rasheed, who played most of the game with cotton stuffed in her left nostril to stop a nosebleed, scored 11 for Princeton, which shot just 28 percent."If you told me we were going to shoot 17 for 60 from the field, I certainly would not have believed you," Tigers coach Courtney Banghart said. "I know the Ivy League is a better conference than a lot of people think and we were hoping to show people that."Ivy League champion Princeton (26-3) came in with the nation's third-longest winning streak, a 21-game run that stretched back to early December. Never at any point had the Tigers faced more than a 12-point deficit during that run, and led wire-to-wire in 12 of those victories.This was different. Much different.Laura Johnson's layup with 12:24 left in the half drew Princeton within 15-12. It all unraveled quickly for the Tigers from there.Princeton missed all but one of its next 16 shots before intermission, and the Red Storm went into the break leading 34-18. It wasn't like the Tigers didn't have chances, either -- they grabbed 12 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes, managing to score off only three of them."It was really frustrating, but we tried to play through it," Rasheed said. "It just wasn't going our way."And even though the Tigers shot 40 percent after halftime, doubling what they managed in the first half, St. John's lead was never slimmer than 14 in the final 20 minutes."We wanted to pressure them on defense and get out to their shooters," Stevens said. "I think we were able to do that."Hart grabbed 11 rebounds for the Red Storm. Lauren Edwards had a game-high 13 rebounds for Princeton.