No. 20 St. John's 73, Hofstra 47
NEW YORK (AP)
Shenneika Smith and Nadirah McKenith weren't going to let St. John's lose to Hofstra again.
McKenith scored 24 points, and Smith added 18 points and 15 rebounds to help the No. 20 Red Storm beat Hofstra 73-47 on Saturday.
Last season the Red Storm (2-1) fell by nine to the Pride.
''Absolutely no one wants to lose,'' said Smith, who also had five assists. ''When you get an opportunity to play a team again you go back to what you know and try to perfect it. We had to play together, play team defense. It's a great win and now we move on to the next team.''
Smith has been a vital part of the team's success during her four-year career. She helped St. John's advance to the NCAA tournament regional semifinals for the first time in school history last season and hit the game-winning 3-pointer that ended UConn's record home-winning streak.
The Red Storm were forced to play the season opener against Texas without her last week. Smith had to sit out that game because of her participation in a non-sanctioned game this summer.
''The team is real different when she plays,'' McKenith said. ''She's talented and gets our team to go on offense. She's our first scoring option, defends the other team's best player. It feels great to have her out there.''
While last season's game was fast paced, with Hofstra winning 92-83, this year the Red Storm clamped down on defense.
St. John's held a seven-point lead with 7 minutes left in the first half before McKenith took over to break the game open. She had 12 of the Red Storm's final 17 points before the half. The senior point guard got her run started by hitting a 3-pointer and capped it with a three-point play with 30 seconds left.
''I just was trying to go out there and make plays for our team,'' McKenith said. ''Things opened up for me to score. I saw I had the opportunity to score, and I attacked the basket.''
St. John's led 43-31 at the break. The Red Storm dashed any hope of a Hofstra comeback by scoring 10 of the first 14 points in the second half. McKenith, who fell two points short of her career high, had a nifty no-look pass for a lay-in by Briana Brown during the burst.
The Red Storm held the Pride to just 16 points in the second half.
''St. John's did a good job, and we didn't step up to the task at all,'' Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said.
Shante Evans scored 12 points before fouling out with 5 minutes left to lead Hofstra (1-2).
''We were able to get some of their key players out of the game,'' first-year St. John's head coach Joe Tartamella said. ''They like to start off the game with all pistons firing and throw the first punch. We found a way to counteract it. We knew it was going to be a grind. They are a young talented team.''