However, there was added importance to the Red Storm's first-ever meeting with South Florida. Two days after earning its first top-25 national ranking in two decades, St. John's was humbled at No. 9 Rutgers. A second consecutive loss would likely mean a drop from the nation's elite.But like it did four other times this season, No. 25 St. John's had a positive response after a loss, beating South Florida, 78-71, in front of 1,502 fans at Carnesecca Arena Sunday afternoon.It was announced Monday that the Red Storm moved up two spots in Associated Pres Top-25, with Louisiana Tech and Texas A&M ranked below them."When we lose, as far as UConn and Rutgers, we feel we're right up there with them and if we would have done a few things differently, we could have won those games," junior guard Kia Wright said. "That motivated us to come out today and work hard and get the 'W.'"As has been the case so often this season, St. John's (18-4, 8-3 Big East) was paced by balanced scoring. Greeba Barlow tied a career-high with 20 points, Angela Clark (10 rebounds) and Wright scored 16 points apiece and Tara Walker added 10 points for the Red Storm, which improved to 9-0 at home.Clark was helped off the court with 2:50 left in the second half with a sprained left ankle."She's been injured all year long so hopefully she'll be able to bounce back," Barnes Arico said of Clark.South Florida (15-8, 5-5), a team that received votes in the top 25, also had four players score in double figures. But the Red Storm limited Jessica Dickson, the nation's leading scorer, to 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting - 5.4 below her season average."I thought [Barlow and Wright] combined did a tremendous job on her," Barnes Arico said. "They both played her man-to-man a lot and really did a nice job on her. We made her take some tough shots, we made her miss some shots."Shantia Grace had 15 points, Rachel Sheats had 13 points and Nalini Miller added 12 for the Bulls, which lost to a nationally ranked team for the sixth time this year.While the Red Storm has responded after each loss, it hasn't had the chance to avenge a defeat - until now. St. John's hosts Marquette (15-6, 6-4) in a game scheduled for Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena.The Golden Eagles handed the Red Storm its first loss of the year, a come-from-behind 60-57 win Dec. 6."Out of any team, after how we lost that game, I'm happy we have an opportunity to play them twice and it's great to have a chance to play them on our court," Barnes Arico said. "I think the players on our team are going to be excited about that opportunity."Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2006 Community News Group
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