Hofstra women beat St. John's, 93-82

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Some at the Mack Sports Complex Friday night might have come mostly for a peek at a talented St. John's women's basketball team, ranked in the preseason Top 25 after a second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

But Hofstra wasn't interested in any of that, and in an early battle for area women's basketball supremacy, the Pride -- 1-11 against St. John's before Friday -- opened some eyes. Hofstra beat the Red Storm, 93-82, thanks to a frenetic pace and accurate shooting.

Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said she was well aware of Hofstra's previous lack of success against St. John's but tried to make sure her players didn't know. "I was praying they didn't look at those game notes,'' she joked.

Hofstra didn't look intimidated. Sophomore Katelyn Loper had a career-high 29 points and Shante Evans added 27 points and 14 rebounds for the Pride (2-1). Nicole Capurso had 14 points and Candice Bellocchio added 12 points and 12 assists.

Eugeneia McPherson scored 22 points and Nadirah McKenith had 19 points and nine assists for St. John's (1-2).

The night began on a somber note, with a moment of silence in remembrance of Oklahoma State women's coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna, who died in a plane crash in Arkansas on Thursday night. The on-court action, though, was active from the tip.

Hofstra began the game shooting 8-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-5 from three-point range, to build a 25-12 lead. But St. John's moved within 45-44 when guard Shenneika Smith (18 points, nine rebounds) stole the inbounds pass and hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer.

Loper hit her fifth three-pointer with 3:14 remaining to give the Pride an eight-point lead. "It's fun going into a game knowing we're going to get open looks every night,'' she said.

St. John's, still without injured 6-1 forward Da'Shena Stevens, struggled to keep pace with the Pride's revamped offense, which is averaging 90.3 points per game. "That was ridiculous,'' St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "I don't know if I've seen anybody make shots like they made shots tonight.''

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