Tidings of Joy

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Kim Barnes Arico knows what she’s going to get from Joy McCorvey every single game. The junior forward is always good for a gutty performance against bigger players, a handful of hard-fought rebounds and non-stop talking.

The thing the St. John’s coach couldn’t always count on from McCorvey? Points. But maybe that will change this year.

The 6-footer from Brewton, Ala., had 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Red Storm to a 70-52, season-opening victory against Northeastern on Friday night at the newly renovated Carnesecca Arena.

Barnes Arico joked with McCorvey in the press conference that now she’s going to be expected to put together that kind of game every time out. She was 7-of-10 from the field, showed improved footwork around the basket and a better shooting touch.

“She did a much better job,” Barnes Arico said. “Her confidence is high. … Take away all her points, she had 12 rebounds, she’s undersized, she doesn’t stop talking the whole game. She just has so many intangibles for us. She’s our leader, she’s our captain.”

Improving her offense was definitely a concern. McCorvey, who averaged 5.4 points per game last year, said she worked on her shooting and finishing around the basket – and everything else, too.

“I know that last year she was a little hesitant, but now she’s more aggressive,” said senior Monique McLean, who had 13 points and seven rebounds.

It was an emotional night for Barnes Arico and not just because it marked the start of her seventh season at St. John’s. The Northeastern coach, Daynia LaForce-Mann, was an assistant for Barnes Arico at St. John’s and a close friend.

“I don’t really get nervous much anymore,” she said, “but I was sick to my stomach today.”

That feeling was relief to start the second half. St. Johns (1-0) led Northeastern (0-1), 35-25 at halftime, but the Red Storm were able to open it up after the break. A McLean basket and free throw capped a 10-0 run and gave St. John’s a 53-33 lead with 12:12 left in the game.

“Coach told us the first four minutes of the second half are the most important,” McLean said. “We just wanted to come out and get on them early.”

Senior guard Kelly McManmon had 13 points, freshman forward Da’Shena Stevens had seven points and eight rebounds and freshman guard Britney Murphy provided a spark off the bench, especially defensively.

“She was like a little Energizer bunny,” Barnes Arico said.

Jasmine Crew led Northeastern with 14 points and Kendra Walton had 13 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Jamie Conroy, a graduate of Bishop Ford HS in Brooklyn, got the start at point guard and had a huge rooting section.

The biggest concern for St. John’s was rebounding, despite McCorvey’s play on the boards. The Red Storm outrebounded the Huskies, 43-38, but NU had 16 offensive rebounds and the teams St. John’s play in the Big East will be bigger and stronger.

“We better be able to block somebody out,” Barnes Arico said, “or we’re in trouble.”

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