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Notre Dame's Megan Duffy believes the St. John's women's basketball team is easily the most improved team in the Big East. On Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena, St. John's more than validated the senior guard's statement.
The Red Storm held on to beat the No. 12-ranked Irish 66-63. It was St. John's first win over Notre Dame in 16 tries and their first against a ranked opponent since they beat then No. 16 Boston College 69-52 on the road last season.
"It's got to be one of the greatest wins." St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "But we can't relax."
Notre Dame is looking to regroup.
"This is a really, really, really, really bad loss." Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "They have to look in the mirror and know that they got to be ready to play every night or anyone can beat you."
Notre Dame (9-3, 0-1) looked as if they had control of the game at halftime. They held St. John's (11-2, 1-1) scoreless for more than five minutes, outscored them 13-0 and took a 31-26 advantage with 2:31 left in the half.
Then Tara Walker changed everything.
"Second half she came out fired up," junior guard Kia Wright said. "I just kept giving her the ball."
Walker scored all of her 13 points in the second half, beginning with three 3-pointers in her own 9-0 run. The surge gave St. John's a 41-37 lead with 17.52 left.
"A team like Notre Dame, they're a good defensive team." said Walker, "When you're open you want to shoot the ball. I hit the first one. The second one I was wide open so I shot that and so on."
St. John's, which was led by Angela Clark's 18 points, extended their lead to 54-64 with 9:14 remaining. They shot 47 percent from behind the arc for the game, forced 24 Irish turnovers and turned them into 20 points.
But Notre Dame, behind Melissa D'Amico (14 points) and Lindsay Schrader, slashed the Red Storm lead to just 62-61 with 44 seconds left. On the next possession, Wright penetrated and found a cutting Danielle Chambers for layup. D'Amico hit a jumper with nine seconds remaining, but then Wright found Greeba Barlow deep for an easy layup to seal the win.
"That's a great win for St. John's," McGraw said. "They were ready to play the game and we weren't. They played well. They made a lot more three's then we had hoped"
St. John's led by as many as 11 in the first half. Monique McLean scored 10 of her 13 points in the period.
Notre Dame received 13 points from Duffy. Crystal Erwin added 11.
When Duffy entered Carnesecca Arena, she knew that she was going to faced an improved team from the one the Irish beat 72-65 last season. But it is doubtful the senior imagined what it was going to be like leaving.
"I don't think we ever want to have this taste in our mouth again." Duffy said.
Meanwhile, St. John's is looking to not get too caught up in the moment.
"I don't think it really hit me yet," Walker said. "It's a good win, but we don't want to get over confident."
©2006 Community Newspaper Group
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