On Feb. 19, 2012, the St. John’s Red Storm stunned the then No. 2 UConn women’s basketball team 57-56 inside Gampel Pavilion. That win gave UConn their first home loss to an unranked opponent since 1993 while ending a handful of streaks spanning more than 100 games. Fast-forward 11 years and two days, the Red Storm entered the XL Center and shocked the Huskies, this time ranked fourth, 69-64.
“It would have been a sin if they [St. John’s] lost that game,” head coach Geno Auriemma said afterward. “They played like they were the better team, and they were.”
Although they scored in double figures against UConn at UBS Arena, Kadaja Bailey and Danielle Patterson led the surge for the Red Storm with three 3-pointers apiece. Patterson had her best game in a St. John’s uniform, scoring a season-high 20 points off the bench with two blocks. Bailey scored 20 points for the second time this season, 11 of which came in the first quarter, while notching four rebounds.
Lou Lopez Senechal led the Husky offense for a second straight game with 18 points, 11 in the first half, on 5-13 shooting. Her efforts could not help UConn overcome a night where they shot a season-low 35.5% from the field, 38% from beyond the arc and scored less than 70 points for a fifth consecutive contest.
“At this point in the year, nothing is fixable,” Auriemma said. “This is who we are right now.”
Despite being shutout in the opening 2:30 of the game, the Huskies’ defense held the Red Storm to three points in that same span. UConn grabbed the lead back on a Caroline Ducharme three, but that is when both offenses woke up for the rest of the frame. Even with that intensity, the Johnnies’ defense shut down the Huskies for almost three minutes, which allowed them to take a five-point advantage. Both teams concluded the first quarter by exchanging 3-pointers as Bailey answered Lopez Senechal before Patterson responded to Nika Mühl’s first in two games.
The story remained the same to begin the second as both teams made one three in the opening three minutes, the first of which gave the Red Storm their largest lead of the night. Partially supported by a technical foul on Unique Drake, UConn clawed back into the fight as a 6-0 run within 70 seconds made it a three-point game.
Despite the momentum on their side, they could not capitalize on the chances they were given, and a second-chance basket from Danielle Cosgrove put St. John’s ahead by five heading into halftime. Patterson could not be stopped on both ends of the floor as she shot perfect from beyond the arc for 13 points with one block.
The Huskies shot 9-29 from the field and allowed seven triples in the first half, but began the second playing like the team that dominated the front end of conference play. Led by Mühl finding her 3-point stroke, UConn took an eight-point advantage and aimed to shut out the Red Storm in the third quarter. Despite their intentions, St. John’s ended their six-minute scoring drought on a three from Jayla Everett, but then one spark swung the game in the other direction.
Aaliyah Edwards tried to grab the rebound following a missed three from Ducharme, and after initially getting charged with a regular foul, got assessed an intentional foul. That allowed Bailey to make both free throws before a driving layup from Drake turned a four-point deficit into a tie game within seconds. The Huskies responded with multiple jumpers, but could not stop the Red Storm from closing out the frame strong as Jillian Archer got on the board and Everett made a traditional 3-point play.
The struggles continued to begin the fourth quarter as no one scored in the opening two minutes of the frame. Once Bailey buried her third three of the game, St. John’s consistently answered UConn’s offense that helped them maintain a six-point advantage for most of the quarter. This continued until a deep three from Lopez Senechal and a free throw from Dorka Juhász made it a two-point game, but the Huskies could not find a way to tie the contest despite the support of their home crowd.
Once Everett answered a miss from Ducharme with a pullup jumper, the game seemed to be out of reach. UConn made it a one-possession game multiple times in the final minute, but fouls on Bailey allowed her to ice the game at the charity stripe. As Juhász’ 3-point heave came up short and the final buzzer sounded, the Red Storm celebrated on the court like it was 2012 while improving their chances of going to March Madness.
Three other Huskies scored in double figures with Juhász burying three triples and Edwards nabbing a double-double with 10 boards. Muhl had one of her better games offensively with three triples for 13 points despite recording just three assists. Despite having six rebounds and two steals, Aubrey Griffin got limited to two points and no field goals.
Everett put herself on triple-double watch with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists for St. John’s. The redshirt senior came up big on defense as well as she forced four steals and rejected two shots on the defensive end. Rayven Peeples may have gotten shut out, but that did not stop her from dominating the glass as she collected 12 rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end. The Red Storm outrebounded UConn 42-37 and 14-11 on the offensive glass while outscoring them 29-3 in bench points.
The Huskies’ (24-5, 16-2 Big East) still have one more mountain to climb before the Big East Tournament, and it comes against Aneesah Morrow and the DePaul Blue Demons in Chicago, Ill. Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. on Fox.