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St. John's women fall to Florida State in overtime

St. John's Eugeneia McPherson, left, and Centhya Hart

St. John's Eugeneia McPherson, left, and Centhya Hart watch as time runs out in their loss to Florida State in the women's NCAA Tournament. (Mar. 22, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

A size-versus-speed matchup usually creates a lot of intrigue.

It did Monday night, but it didn't end on a positive note for the St. John's women's basketball team.

Jacinta Monroe's layup with 28 seconds left in overtime gave third-seeded Florida State a 66-65 victory over the sixth-seeded Red Storm in an NCAA Tournament second-round game in Tallahassee.

With eight seconds left and St. John's trailing 66-65, Florida State's Courtney Ward missed the front end of a one-and-one.

St. John's freshman point guard Nadirah McKenith raced up the court and dished to Da'Shena Stevens, but the sophomore's jumper hit the rim as time expired.

St. John's (25-7) was denied its first trip to the Sweet 16. Florida State (28-5) moves on to the regional semifinals for the first time in three years and will face the Mississippi State-Ohio State winner this weekend.

St. John's took a 60-55 lead with 1:51 left in regulation on a driving layup by McKenith. The Seminoles answered with five points in the next 50 seconds, tying the score at 60 with 1:01 left.

The Red Storm had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but freshman Eugeneia McPherson (North Babylon) missed long on a 15-footer as time expired.

With 39 ties and lead changes, the game was as close as the score indicated.

Despite the loss, St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico was upbeat about the program's future. "The whole country got a chance to see us play,'' she said. "We are moving in the right direction."

On the positive side, it was another balanced effort on offense from St. John's, which featured four double-digit scorers. McKenith had 15 points and Stevens added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Joy McCorvey had 13 points and Shenneika Smith 10.

The Red Storm faced a daunting task, playing a bigger Florida State team on its home floor. "That's the best thing about it," Barnes Arico said. "We don't get intimidated."

Despite the size differential, St. John's, with only one of its rotation players more than 6 feet tall, matched Florida State on the backboards, outrebounding the Seminoles 32-31.

"We've been doing that all year," Barnes Arico said. "We faced teams that were bigger than us in the Big East all year. We have some of the toughest kids in the country."

Still, it was a struggle guarding Florida State in the paint. Monroe, a 6-4 senior, had 16 points and four blocks. Cierra Bravard, a 6-4 sophomore, added six points and seven rebounds off the bench.

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