St. John’s women still buzzing from upset of UConn
St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico’s phone hasn’t stop
It’s been 48 hours since the Red Storm’s thrilling 57-56 upset
victory over then-No. 2 Connecticut on Saturday night ended the
Huskies’ 99-game home winning streak and the texts keep coming.
”I had 100 texts waiting for me when I got on the bus and they
just haven’t stopped,” Barnes Arico said.
One was from Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma saying he was proud
”It just goes to show how much of a class act he is,” Barnes
The team enjoyed its 2-hour bus ride home from Storrs, singing
and dancing all the way back to New York.
”I’m the first to say let’s focus on the next game, but after
this one I was like lets enjoy tonight,” said Barnes Arico, who
became the school’s winningest women’s basketball coach earlier
this month. ”You never get to do that so much with the kids. They
were taking pictures, passing the phones around watching the
highlights. I’m kind of glad it was away, because if it was home we
probably wouldn’t have gotten to enjoy it together like that.”
The victory was Barnes Arico’s first over UConn in 10 tries and
ended the Red Storm’s 27-game losing skid to the Huskies that dated
to 1993. Finally beating Connecticut will give her a reprieve from
her toughest critic – and biggest fan – 10-year old son Trevor.
He’s been reciting the score of his mom’s first loss to UConn, an
87-46 drubbing in 2003, for years. Now he’s got a new one to
remember – 57-56.
Trevor missed the monumental win, which was decided on Shenneika
Smith’s 3-pointer with 8 seconds left, as he was in New York
watching the Harlem Globetrotters. He was all smiles when Barnes
Arico recounted the victory over the phone to him on the bus ride
The win, which also ended UConn’s 261-game home winning streak
against non-ranked opponents, has created a buzz around the Red
Storm, who jumped back into the Top 25 at No. 20 on Monday. Barnes
Arico and the players have been inundated with media requests over
the last 48 hours.
”We definitely have enjoyed this one,” Barnes Arico said. ”I
told the kids in the locker room after the game that they will
always remember this. Not many teams have won here.”
In fact, the Red Storm became just the fifth team since 1993 to
win in Storrs, joining Rutgers, Tennessee, Georgia and Notre
St. John’s assistant coach Megan Duffy was a star player on that
Irish team, which beat UConn in 2005. Duffy’s squad ended the
Huskies’ 55-game winning streak at Gampel. A year earlier Notre
Dame stopped UConn’s 121-game winning streak against unranked
opponents, topping the Huskies in South Bend.
Barnes Arico just wishes her team had a little more time to
savor their win. The Red Storm (18-8, 10-3 Big East) host West
Virginia on Tuesday night in a key conference matchup. The
Mountaineers, who had their own shocking victory at then-No. 2
Notre Dame a week earlier, are sitting a game behind St. John’s in
the conference standings.
”We really need to get ready for Tuesday night,” Barnes Arico
said. ”Fortunately we’ve had a bit of a rivalry with West Virginia
lately so the kids will be up for the game.”
St. John’s had been on a roll even before its victory over
UConn, winning 10 of its previous 12 games. That run started when
the Red Storm finally got healthy. Senior Da’Shena Stevens, who had
15 points in the win over UConn, missed the first 10 games of the
season while recovering from an offseason injury to her left
”She’s a special kid,” Barnes Arico said of Stevens. ”We lost
the face of our program when she was out. It was a devastating blow
in all aspects. Once she returned you can see how the confidence
grew throughout the team.”
Since her return, St. John’s has knocked off four ranked teams,
beating Rutgers twice, Louisville and now UConn.
”It feels amazing just for our team and the stretch we’ve been
playing so far,” Stevens said. ”I think we’ve been playing great.
We’ve been beating teams. Right now we are just feeling it.”
The Red Storm have three games left in the regular season and
with a little help could finish second in the conference surpassing
their best mark ever under Barnes Arico – a third place finish in
2005-06. St. John’s did share the conference title in 1983 and
A third straight trip to the NCAA tournament seems assured now.
The Red Storm have made it to the second round the last two
”A couple of years ago, when we were first on the national
scene, it was a different role for us,” Barnes Arico said. ”These
kids have been there. They know what it takes to be successful.
I’ve been lucky to have kids who aren’t fearful.”
Barnes Arico refuses to think about what could happen down the
road, only wanting to focus on the next game.
”Big picture things I can’t stress about that,” she said.
”I’ll just give myself a big stomachache. We just need to focus on
West Virginia and take it one game at a time.”
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