But it was a six-minute stretch at the end of the first half that proved to be the difference, as the Red Storm struggled on both ends of the floor and the Lady Monarchs erased a six-point deficit to take a 32-24 halftime lead en route to a 65-52 win.
"For 40 minutes you have to be on your toes, you have to alert and ready for anything," St. John's head coach Darcel Estep said. "I just think there were stretches in the game where we kind of fell asleep sometimes. When you have a team like Old Dominion and you make those types of mistakes, they're going to burn you. If anything, we'll walk away learning this."
Freshman center Corrina Turner led Old Dominion (2-3) with a game-high 19 points, along with 10 rebounds. Senior forward Maiga Hamchetou added 11 points and six boards for the Lady Monarchs, the nine-time defending Colonial Athletic Association champions. Monique Coker, a 6-foot-1 freshman from the Bronx out of Monsignor Scanlan, made her return to New York and scored six points for ODU.
St. John's (3-3) was paced by senior forward Tynisha Myles, who had 18 points and 13 rebounds, while junior guard Rasheedah Brown added 13 points and three assists.
"We took ourselves out of the game because of not doing the little things, doing what we knew we were suppose to do," Brown said. "We were fumbling the ball and throwing the ball away. We brought it all on ourselves. It wasn't anything that they showed us that we haven't seen before."
Old Dominion exploded out of the game to take a 9-1 lead when Turner drove to the lane and was fouled, converting the free throw. But the Red Storm came right back and took its first lead, 11-10, on a Myles putback with 13:01 left.
Turner and Myles continued to battle in the post. Myles scored from the right blocks to put St. John's ahead, 15-14, and Turner answered right back from the left side to put ODU up.
"She's a very good player and had a couple of inches over me so I tried to execute some of the things we were taught in practice and some of the things worked, some didn't," Myles said of Turner. "She's a great player, she's strong and I tried to play the best that I can on her."
But after pushing the ball inside to Myles for much of the first half, the Red Storm went outside. Giani Bowles dished to Eukeisha Iton, who hit a 12-footer. Brown followed with a three-pointer from the left wing and an 18-foot jumper to put the Red Storm ahead, 22-16, with 6:10 left, forcing Old Dominion head coach Wendy Larry to call a time-out.
"We were stopping them on the defensive end, we were executing our plays and getting good shots, getting the ball inside to Tynisha and she's getting the fouls or the bucket," Brown said. "We were executing our plays and getting the ball in the basket."
St. John's, though, would not get another field goal the rest of the half, settling for two free throws in the final six minutes. The Lady Monarchs capitalized, outscoring the Red Storm, 16-2, to close out the half, capped by Okeisha Howard's baseline three to put ODU ahead 32-24 at the break.
"When we have the lead, we just have to sustain that lead," Estep said. "We have to make sure that, at that point in time, the whole goal is to continue to hold the lead and move forward. But a couple bad decisions and momentum swings....if you keep making those mistakes in that small time period, a team like Old Dominion is going to capitalize off them, and they did."
The Red Storm played well in the second half, but couldn't erase its halftime deficit. The closest St. John's would get was 41-37 on two made free throws by Myles with 13:44 left in the second half, but the Lady Monarchs extended its lead to 15, 61-46, on a trifecta by Sharron Francis with 4:44 left.
Notes: St. John's continues its non-conference slate Sunday at Alumni Hall against Buffalo after taking on the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in a game scheduled for Tuesday night. Tip-off for Sunday's game is 2 p.m.
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