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St. John’s women’s basketball wins Big East championship

St. John's 's Aliyyah Handford, left, shoots over

St. John's 's Aliyyah Handford, left, shoots over Creighton's MC McGrory (3) during the first half of the Big East Conference NCAA women's college basketball tournament championship game, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Chicago. Credit: AP/ Charles Rex Arbogast

CHICAGO — Aaliyah Lewis had 14 points and eight rebounds and No. 4 seed St. John’s won its first Big East Tournament championship since 1988 in a 50-37 victory over seventh-seeded Creighton on Tuesday night, earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

St. John’s is headed to its sixth NCAA Tournament in the last seven seasons and has 10 overall appearances.

“This is a thing that doesn’t go away; it’s for all time,” coach Joe Tartamella said. “It bonds us, and we’re very excited to represent the Big East as the postseason champ as we move into the NCAA Tournament.”

It was the first time since 2006 that the Big East Tournament didn’t feature the No. 1 seed after No. 18 DePaul fell to the Red Storm Monday. St. John’s was the lowest seed to ever win the title.

Lewis made a layup to give St. John’s a 41-33 lead and she drew a foul on Creighton’s next possession, which led to Jade Walker’s two free throws for a 10-point lead.

Aliyyah Handford, who was the tournament’s most outstanding player, added 11 points for St. John’s (23-9). She had 56 total points in three games.

Audrey Faber led Creighton (17-17) with 12 points and MC McGrory added 11.

Akina Wellere opened the fourth with a three-pointer from the wing to give St. John’s a 31-28 lead. Lewis hit a layup on their next possession for a 33-30 advantage. Jade Walker made it 35-30 on a turnaround jumper and Danaejah Grant’s layup gave them a seven-point lead.

Audrey Faber sank a three-pointer to pull Creighton to 37-33 with 4:40 left, but Handford answered with a long jumper.

St. John’s was just the second No. 4 seed to advance to the tournament final — joining Seton Hall in 1984.

New York Sports