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Not so perfect Storm falls to Marquette

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Down by 10 points at halftime yet surging, the No. 23 St. John's women's basketball team appeared well on its way to a tremendous second-half comeback.

But Marquette's Svetlana Kovalenko and Krystal Ellis had different plans.

The duo hit back-to-back three pointers with 11:07 left after the Red Storm tied it and the Golden Eagles would never relinquish the lead again.

"I don't even know what happened," St. John's junior guard Kia Wright said. "It happened so fast. After we tied it, things just went so downward for us."

St. John's dropped the game, 74-59, Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena to a Marquette team, in its first season in the Big East, that also defeated the Red Storm on Dec. 6. The Golden Eagles also ruined any hopes of an undefeated home record, with the Red Storm dropping to 8-1 at Carnesecca Arena/Madison Square Garden.

St. John's (18-5, 8-4 Big East) battled its way back and tied it at 37 with 13:23 to go. The team seemed replenished and poised for yet another Big East victory after a disappointing first half that had the team down, 29-19. But before the moment could even be enjoyed, it was gone.

Aside for the first seven minutes of the second half, things looked dismal for St. John's throughout.

The Red Storm started with a 10-4 lead but quickly let it get away. Marquette (16-6, 7-4) was led by Ellis, a freshman, who scored a team-high 21 points, including 3-for-5 from behind the three-point line.

The Golden Eagles' zone defense was unfamiliar to the Red Storm, which was unable to get inside for most of the game.

"We fell into the trap that they wanted us to: We set up for three-point shots," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "We took thirteen three-pointers in the first half."

The team shot only 17 percent in the half.

Added Wright: "We were very stagnant. We didn't do what we did in practice."

Wright led the second-half surge that started with an 18-7 St. John's run but the Red Storm wasn't able to keep it up. Marquette had 19 free throws in the second half alone, more then St. John's had all game, and was able to sink 16 of them.

"We try to get physical with the other team but it seems like everything's always against us," Wright said. "We have no control over the refs; we've just got to play our game."

Lost in the disappointment of a loss was Wright's tremendous performance. She had a season-high 26 points and had five rebounds. She didn't have much help, though, as no one else was able to crack double digits in points.

Junior forward Angela Clark, sporting a brace on her ankle from an injury in Sunday's win against South Florida, did not seem fully healed. She scored only eight points (her third lowest mark on the year) but did chip in with 10 rebounds.

"She's hurting," Barnes Arico said. "She played through it."

It was not enough against Marquette, who had five different players score at least 10 points.

"We weren't able to stop them," Barnes Arico said.

As for the rest of the season? Barnes Arico and the Red Storm hope to put this behind them and move on.

The coach said: "We've just got to start preparing for our next game and that's the way we always take things."

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