NORMAN — It was a month ago today that it all clicked for St. John’s. Playing against the vaunted Connecticut Huskies, it put together the biggest victory in the program’s history.
The 57-56 win at UConn not only broke the Huskies’ 99-game home win streak, it ended the Red Storm’s own 27-game losing streak to the national powerhouse.
Since then, the Red Storm have lost only one game. That was to UConn in the Big East Tournament.
No coach wants to ever admit that there is such a thing as a good loss. But as the Red Storm head into today’s first round game in the NCAA tournament, they are acting like a squad that is focused on the task at hand and not basking in its regular-season success.
“I think we learned that it’s like a new season,” St. John’s forward Da’Shena Stevens said. “The regular season is over. It’s postseason now. Any game you can lose and any game could be your last game. You have to leave it all out on the floor.”
The third-seeded Red Storm (22-9) are facing 14th seed Creighton (20-12) at 4 p.m. today at the Lloyd Noble Center. The winner will take on the survivor of the Oklahoma-Michigan contest Tuesday with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line.
St. John’s and Creighton have never faced-off in the past. A first-time meeting in the national tournament adds intrigue to the matchup for the Red Storm.
“It’s exciting to be here and play a team we’ve never faced before,” St. John’s guard Shenneika Smith said. “It’s going to be exciting. So we are going to come out and play hard.”
The Red Storm are in the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year and feature a lineup full of veteran players who are battle-tested .
The Bluejays, on the other hand, are making their first appearance in the tournament since 2002. After starting the season 0-3, even the players didn’t know if they would make it this far.
“Starting out this season we were thinking this isn’t looking good,” Creighton guard Carli Tritz said. “Maybe we are really young and this is our rebuilding year. That thought was out there, but there is a difference between buying in to that thought and giving in to it.
“I think it may cross your mind, but we were tough enough not to give in to that.”
Michael Kinney 366-3537 firstname.lastname@example.org