St. John's women make it four straight NCAA tourney appearances

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A new season, a new coach, but the St. John's women didn't miss a beat.

For the fourth straight season the Red Storm qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

St. John's (18-12), a 10th seed in the Bridgeport Region, will host No. 7 Dayton in a first-round game on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Carnesecca Arena.

The road to the tourney was a little tougher than usual for first-year coach Joe Tartamella and his squad, which lost senior guard Eugeneia McPherson to a torn ACL five games into the season.

"[McPherson] was the last player I thought we'd lose because she's always been there," Tartamella said. "But we never gave up and came back game after game. This certainly wasn't the easiest season."

St. John's also lost three games at the buzzer, including one to Syracuse on a half-court shot.

"We lost a few close ones early, but we found a way to get past those loopholes," said senior guard and leading scorer Shenneika Smith.

St. John's won eight of its final 10 games, including a first-round Big East tournament game against Seton Hall to qualify.

The tough road had a grand result in the end, however, as the Red Storm gets to host at least one tournament game.

"It's awesome," senior point guard Nadirah McKenith said. "Not many people get an opportunity to play in the tournament in front of their home fans."

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Getting a chance to play in the tournament for a fourth straight year is also special. St. John's advanced to an NCAA regional semifinal last year under former coach Kim Barnes Arico.

"It's extra gratifying," Tartamella said. "The seniors get to go out playing in four straight tournaments. Our goal has always been consistency."

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