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SJU women get revenge, top Providence, 79-67

The St. John's women's basketball team avenged a loss to Providence three weeks ago with a 79-67 victory at Alumni Hall in Providence, R.I., Saturday afternoon, snapping a three-game losing streak.

While the win, the team's second in conference, was pretty impressive, some aspects of the victory are especially notable.

The Red Storm, a team which averages 16.8 turnovers a game, had only five for the entire game Saturday. This team, which turned the ball over five times in the final eight minutes of its 72-67 loss to Georgetown, did the same in the entire 40 minutes against the Friars.

While St. John's (7-12, 2-7 Big East), which is ranked second in the Big East in turnover margins, had just five turnovers, Providence turned the ball over 20 times.

"That was just unbelievable," St. John's head coach Darcel Estep said. "We were being pressured, but we made some good decisions based on their defense. We did some really good things with the ball."

St. John's also did a great job shooting the ball. Second to last in the conference in field goal percentage at 38 percent, the Red Storm shot 44 percent from the field, 46 percent in the second half.

"[The win] was the epitome of what I had envisioned this team doing," Estep said. "It was a prime example of how the system allows different members of the team to be a factor. Not just one player, but two, three and four players. We were really consistent on offense and defense."

Leading 12-10 in the first half, the Red Storm went on an awesome 18-0 run to go ahead, 30-10 with 7:37, keyed by Latasha Thompson's 11 points during the span.

Providence (9-9, 4-4) answered back with an 11-0 run, all on points by Jen Gombotz and Meghan Hinds (19 points, 12 rebounds) to cut the Red Storm lead to 37-27 with 1:23 remaining.

Just when it looked like the Friars had the momentum, Thompson struck again, nailing a three-pointer to end the run and put St. John's up, 40-27. The 5-foot-7 junior guard scored 22 first half points, en route to a game-high 31, which was the best scoring performance by a Big East player in a conference game this season. Thompson shot 9-11 from the field, including 4-4 from three point range in the first 20 minutes.

"Latasha is a player who realizes she has to play at two different speeds," Estep said. "There is the speed when she has to get past someone and then there was the speed she used at Providence, where she took her time, passed the ball around and got everyone involved. Latasha is not a shooter, but she is a scorer."

Thompson, along with Alissa Murphy of Boston College, were named co-Big East Players of the Week. Sophomore forward Aiysha Smith was also honored by the league, garnering Big East Rookie of the Week honors.

The 6-foot-2 forward picked up her seventh double-double of the year against Providence, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Smith is tied with Becky Gottstein from BC for the league lead in double-doubles.

"Aiysha is a young lady who had a lot of pressure because she was Ms. Basketball in Michigan," Estep said. "We try and make her understand and take what she was blessed with and incorporate it into our system to make her a better player. She's always been a consistent scorer and rebounder. She had the knack to be able to have a breakout game."

Providence got as close as 42-35 on a Hinds' three-pointer just before the half, but the Red Storm went on a 15-0 run at the start of the second half, capped by Thompson's 10-foot jumper as St. John's went ahead, 57-35, with 11:31 left in the second half.

The Friars came back again, cutting the Red Storm lead to 11 on an eight-foot jumper by Hinds, with 1:36 left, but St. John's knocked down five of six free throws in the final minute to preserve the win.

Ana Pericic added 11 points, three assists and two steals for St. John's. Dani Trippany had 13 points for the Friars.

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