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St. John’s Holds Off Yale, 56-52

Ale Aguirre. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Ale Aguirre. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

JAMAICA, N.Y. – The Yale women's basketball team went into one of the toughest places to play in college basketball Thursday night and pushed St. John's to the limit, rallying from a nine-point deficit and tying the Red Storm 52-52 on a layup by first-year forward Camilla Emsbo with 1:55 to play. But after the Bulldogs missed two chances to take the lead with less than a minute to play, St. John's delivered the knockout punch it had been looking for all night long. Guard Alisha Kebbe's three-pointer with 22 seconds left proved to be the game-winner, and a late free throw made the final 56-52.

St. John's (6-2, 0-0 Big East) is now 110-33 at Carnesecca Arena since the start of the 2009-10 season, but getting that 110th win was not easy. After leading by as many as seven early in the second quarter, the Red Storm saw Yale rally to tie the game 18-18 with 5:38 left before the half on sophomore guard Ale Aguirre's first career three-pointer. She then followed up with another 90 seconds later, and a three by junior guard Roxy Barahman with 2:02 left gave Yale a seven-point lead.

Aguirre's six points helped Yale's bench outscore the Red Storm's bench 13-9.

"Ale was awesome," said Allison Guth, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "That kid can shoot the three-ball really well. I loved what our bench gave us tonight. They were the reasons we were in the game defensively in the first half."

But St. John's eventually rallied to tie the game 26-26 at halftime, and outscored the Bulldogs 14-5 to start the third.

"In the second half, we were getting buried in the post," said Guth. "We had to switch to the 2-3 zone, and that got us some great stops."

Sparked by a three-pointer from Emsbo, the Bulldogs cut the Red Storm's lead down to one before a buzzer-beater made the score 44-41 in favor of St. John's at the end of the third.

Yale (5-5, 0-0 Ivy League) fell behind by seven early in the fourth, but mounted another comeback. A three-pointer from Barahman started a 9-2 run, capped by a three from sophomore forward Alex Cade, that tied the score 50-50 with 4:25 to play.

After St. John's went back ahead on a jumper by guard Quadashah Hoppe, Emsbo's layup tied the score again. A defensive rebound by junior forward Megan Gorman -- one of seven on the day for her -- gave the Bulldogs a chance to take the lead, but after a missed jumper and layup by the Bulldogs the Red Storm got the rebound with 51 seconds left.

That enabled Kebbe to make the go-ahead three-pointer, part of a 12 point night for her. After a missed three-pointer by the Bulldogs with 13 seconds left, Red Storm guard Tiana England got the rebound, got fouled and hit one of two free throws. That made the final 56-52.

Emsbo led Yale with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Barahman added 13 points and 11 boards. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Red Storm 46-29 but were hurt by 20 turnovers and 30% shooting from the field.

Yale plays at Vermont Saturday, the second of three straight road games.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity