No. 18 St. John’s 81, Southern Miss. 50

With just over two minutes left in the game, St. John’s coach

Kim Barnes Arico turned to her bench looking to substitute for

injured guard Shenneika Smith.

There was nobody there.

At least, nobody who could still play.

Her roster ransacked by injuries and foul trouble, Barnes Arico

had to go with four players the rest of the way Saturday. It hardly

mattered in an 81-50 rout of Southern Mississippi.

”It was really unbelievable,” the coach said afterward. ”I’ve

seen injury bugs hamper teams before, but nothing like this. It was

just one after another.”

The Red Storm only had 10 players suit up Saturday, and one by

one they went down.

First, Da’Shena Stevens was lost to a concussion. Then, Centhya

Hart went down with an ankle sprain. Sky Lindsay was the next to go

out when her Achillies’ tendinitis flared up. Smith had been

nursing several injuries and Nadirah McKenith fractured her thumb

in practice this week.

When reserve center Jennifer Blanding fouled out with 5 minutes

left, Barnes Arico put McKenith back in. About a minute later, she

aggravated the thumb injury, running off the court in pain. Smith

re-entered the game and with 2:14 left and came up hobbling with a

sprained ankle, leaving the Red Storm with four healthy


”I looked down the bench and everyone was icing,” said St.

John’s guard Eugenia McPherson, who had a career-high 23 points to

lead the Red Storm. ”We didn’t panic.”

It helped that the Red Storm had a 35-point lead. The remaining

four players closed it out.

Barnes Arico isn’t sure who she’ll have back for the

championship game of the holiday tournament Sunday, when the Red

Storm face UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos beat Fresno State 64-62 on


”Can we cancel the game?” she said, laughing. ”It will be

interesting to see who’s able to go. I don’t think Da’Shena will be

able to go. We’re going to be down a few at least.”

After Sunday’s contest, the Red Storm will have nine days to get

healthy before heading to Maryland to play in the Terrapins’


Stevens was set to become the 17th Red Storm player to reach

1,000 points. She needed seven coming into the game and had an

early basket before getting hit with an elbow 2 minutes in.

Rachel Vigers scored 19 points to lead Southern Miss (5-5).

Jamierra Faulkner added 14.

Smith’s previous career high was 20 points against Seton Hall

earlier this month. Lindsay and Amanda Burakoski had 10 points each

for the Red Storm (10-1), who forced the Lady Eagles into 27

turnovers and converted them into 37 points.

The Red Storm built a quick nine-point lead, converting

turnovers into easy baskets. Hart had back-to-back layups that made

it 18-9 with 12:37 left.

Vigers scored the next seven points for the Lady Eagles,

including a three-point play with 11:01 left that made it 18-16.

But the Red Storm scored 17 of the next 18 points to take command,

with McPherson starting the spurt and scoring seven during the


St. John’s pressure forced four straight turnovers by Southern


Danielle Johnson finally ended the 6-minute drought by banking

in a floater in the lane that made it 35-19. The Red Storm weren’t

daunted, closing the half on a 15-3 run to take a 50-22 lead at the

break. The Lady Eagles trailed by as many as 39 in the second


If it wasn’t for the injuries, it would have been just about

perfect for St. John’s.

”I hope their players are OK,” Southern Mississippi coach Joye

Lee-McNelis said. ”I just told the coach before the game, lets not

have any injuries. We’ve had three knee surgeries, an ankle surgery

and a kid is having an open heart surgery.”