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St. John's women thump Princeton to advance to second round of NCAA Tournament

The dance won't be short and sweet for St. John's women's basketball team. Just sweet for now.

Fueled by a balanced attack, the sixth-seeded Red Storm made short work of 11th-seeded Princeton, 65-47, in a first-round Dayton Bracket NCAA Tournament game in Tallahassee Saturday.

St. John's, which ended Princeton's 21-game winning streak, will face Florida State in a second-round game Sunday night.

"Being here and being able to move on is a great feeling," said sophomore forward Da'Shena Stevens, who led St. John's with 19 points. "This will make people pay attention to us and that will help the program move forward."

Shenneika Smith added 13 points and Nadirah McKenith and Coco Hart added 10 points each.

"It was a total team effort," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "Da'Shena did a great job getting around their post players in the paint."

It's the second NCAA Tournament appearance in five years for St. John's (25-6), which advanced in the second round in 2006 and fell to eventual national champion Maryland.

Barnes Arico said she was also pleased with her team's defense, which limited Princeton (26-3) to 28.3 percent shooting. Niveen Rasheed had 11 points and was the only Princeton player to reach double figures.

The Red Storm, which doesn't have a lot of size, held their own on the boards, outrebounding Princeton, 39-38. Smith and Hart led St. John's with 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively.

"We really wanted to pick up our defense and stop them on three-pointers," Stevens said. "And everyone got on the boards. Coco had a double-double and Shenneika also had a lot of rebounds."

The game turned in St. John's favor as the Red Storm, trailing 10-7 with 15:23 left, ended the first half on a 27-8 run to lead 34-18 at the break.

The dominating nature of the win wasn't enough to convince Barnes Arico her team has arrived just yet.

"We're not at that point yet. We can't look past people," Barnes Arico said. "Princeton only had two losses before this game, against Rutgers and UCLA, so we had to focus on winning just this game."

Now she can focus on the second round.

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