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Winning ugly: Red Storm women beat Pittsburgh

Luckily, the opponent for her and the St. John's women's basketball team Saturday was Pittsburgh, the team she scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds against in a St. John's win on Jan. 20.That game, at Pittsburgh, marked the last time Clark had a double-double in a contest. This game, a sloppy 49-39 St. John's (17-6, 6-6) victory at Carnesecca Arena, was not much different - the sophomore forward had 13 points and 11 rebounds before the buzzer even sounded to end the first half.Clark did not score a single point in the second half, partially because she injured her wrist in the final period and had to wear a brace, but her jump-out-of-the-building rebounding ability - she finished the game with a career-high 16 boards (half of them offensive) - was the winning ingredient for a Red Storm team that only shot 23.6 percent from the field (3-for-23 shooting in the second half)."Today I saw the old Angie on the court," St. John's freshman guard Kia Wright, a high school teammate of Clark's, said. "There were times when I thought I had the rebound and she just came right over me (with) her jumping ability. I was in awe."Wright finished the game with a game-high 15 points and 8 rebounds of her own.St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico challenged Clark this week during practice, asking her why she was so dominant last year when she earned Big East All-Rookie Team honors and why she has not duplicated that same assertive play this season."Sometimes (Clark's) scoring kind of affects the rest of her game," Barnes Arico said. "But she can be such a dominant player even when she doesn't score and she can create her own points by rebounding the ball."Clark added: "The last few days in practice (Barnes Arico has) just been pushing me and pushing me and pushing me, (saying) you got to be more aggressive, you got to be more aggressive."Despite the ugly statistics for St. John's (17-6, 6-6 Big East) throughout, the Panthers (down by seven at the half) could not manage to mount any sort of comeback. Pittsburgh (11-11, 3-8) could only muster a field goal percentage of 25.5 percent for the game"I thought the first half was pretty bad, but the second half just got worse," Barnes Arico said. "I think it says something about this team to still win this game."The second half was worse, indeed. St. John's went through a stretch of over 11 minutes without a field goal.Defense and rebounding were the key for the cold-shooting Storm. St. John's outrebounded the Panthers 46-41 and forced 25 Pittsburgh turnovers."We really tried to make a conscious effort on (Pittsburgh freshman center Marcedes Walker)," Barnes Arico said. "As poorly as we played offensively, I feel like we did what we needed to do to win the game."Walker finished with 12 points (10 coming in the second half) on 5-of-13 shooting and turned the ball over four times.Even in the victory, the 49 points tied for St. John's second lowest total of the season (with its 64-49 loss to Rutgers), the first coming in a 60-32 defeat at the hands of Connecticut. Pittsburgh's score of 39 was also the lowest for a Red Storm opponent this year.St. John's did its damage from the free throw line in the second half with 15 out of the team's 22 second half points came from the charity stripe and the Red Storm finished shooting 72.4 percent from the line."That's how we won the game, going to the free throw line 29 times," Barnes Arico said.Added Pittsburgh coach Agnus Berenato: "We can't put a team on the line 29 times."Reach contributing writer Marc Raimondi by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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