On Sunday, the St. John’s Women’s Basketball season ended with a WNIT quarterfinal loss to West Virginia, but they still had a strong season and went further in that postseason than ever before.
While the St. John’s men’s basketball team did not go to any postseason this year, the women’s team had other ideas as they extended their season into March. While it wasn’t the NCAA Tournament, Joe Tartamella’s team made the WNIT for the second straight season and for the third time in his tenure.
This season, they made it further than ever as the Lady Red Storm made the quarterfinals of the WNIT for the first time since 2007-08, but they lost to the West Virginia Mountaineers, 78-62, on Sunday afternoon. Despite that loss, St. John’s won 19 games this season, which is the ninth time they have at least won that many games in the last ten years.
The Lady Red Storm had three players that averaged in double figures, but one name that way key for their scoring and rebounding was senior forward Maya Singleton. Singleton averaged 11.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, she had 17 double-doubles, and she had the most steals on the team (54). With those stats, she was named to the All-Big East Second Team.
In terms of her performance on the glass, Singleton’s best game of the season came on Dec. 18 when St. John’s took on Kanas. That night, she had 24 rebounds to go with 14 points in the team’s 65-53 overtime win. Those 24 boards tied a school record set by Mary Doyle in 1976 and they were one off of the Big East record set by Peggy Walsh from Connecticut (1986).
Out in the backcourt, Akina Wellere averaged 10.5 points per game for the season. However, the junior did have 18 games where she had ten or more points, including the 23 points she had in Sunday night’s loss to the Mountaineers.
Despite playing in four fewer games, the junior increased her assist total this year to 53 (38 last year) and decreased her turnover number to 63 (86 last year). Wellere will be one of the key pieces on next year’s team since she is going into her senior season.
This year’s team had four seniors, but there is a good young backcourt emerging in Queens that could be tough for Big East opponents the next couple of years. Tiana England, in her freshman year, was third in the conference in assists per game (five) and played a significant amount of time (34.6 minutes per game).
As for England’s backcourt teammate, Quadashah Hoppie averaged 10.1 points per game in her first season in Queens (third on the team). Plus, she was one of the more reliable players on the team in terms of shooting free throws at the end of the game. She was second on the team in that category (78.2 percent), which trailed only sophomore guard Alisha Kebbe on the team (84.7 percent).
So, while St. John’s did not reach the NCAA Tournament, they were one of seven teams in the conference to reach postseason play and that is an accomplishment in itself. It is a team that has a bright future and still had some good moments in 2017-18.