March 16, 2023 

St. John’s keeps making history

And five BIG EAST teams are dancing

Before Thursday’s 66-64 win against Purdue in the NCAA’s First Four matchup, St. John’s women’s basketball had already had an historic season. The Red Storm started the season off with a program-best 12-0 record. In December, the program received votes in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2015. On Sunday, St. John’s clinched its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016 and 11th in program history.

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St. John’s made more history en route to their victory on Thursday, eclipsing the program record for 3-pointers in an NCAA Tournament game (eight) by hitting 11 threes on 47.8% shooting from beyond the arc. Redshirt senior guard Jayla Everett hit three 3-pointers on her own en route to 20 points on the game. Everett, who transferred to St. John’s before the 2022-23 season, also hit the game-winning shot to clinch the win for the Red Storm.

Thursday’s win is another peak of St. John’s historic climb this season. After last season’s disappointing 12-19 (7-12 in BIG EAST) finish, head coach Joe Tartamella looked to the transfer portal for a roster boost. Everett (Pittsburgh), guard Mimi Reid (Mississippi) and forward Jillian Archer (Georgetown) all took their talents to Queens, and worked their way into the starting lineup. Tartamella sees the growth in his team this season.

“From where we were a year ago to what we’ve done all year, the things we’ve accomplished and being able to have the wins that we’ve had and really have no bad losses, I think, is probably the better thing that I look at for us as a group,” Tartamella said BIG EAST Tournament weekend. “We have a win at UConn on the road. We have a win against Marquette and Creighton. But to have no bad losses is pretty amazing. And I’ve coached a long time.”

“But I couldn’t be prouder of this group from where we came from. They shattered some things this year. And I think it’s a great springboard for our program.”

The No. 11 seed Red Storm now advance to a first round matchup against No. 6 North Carolina on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET.

BIG EAST goes dancing

With five teams advancing to the big dance, the BIG EAST has its most teams in the NCAA Tournament since conference realignment in 2013. Rising competitiveness, elite coaching and All-American players have elevated the conference to new heights this season. Let’s take a look at where the other BIG EAST Tournament teams landed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament field.

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No. 2 seed UConn

For the 34th consecutive season, national powerhouse UConn has advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies have advanced to 22 Final Fours during that time frame, including the last 14 consecutive Final Fours. Simply put, UConn has been absolutely dominant for the past 30 years. After a challenging season, the Huskies look to keep their streak alive and reach the Final Four in Dallas. The quest to the Final Four begins with a game against No. 15 seed Vermont on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET.

No. 4 seed Villanova

As a No. 4 seed, the Wildcats earned the opportunity to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Villanova senior Maddy Siegrist was named an AP First Team All-American on Wednesday, and deservedly so. The country’s leading scorer averaged 28.9 points this season and set the Villanova and BIG EAST scoring records. Her 984 points this season leave her just 16 points shy of becoming the fifth player in NCAA women’s basketball history to score 1,000 points in a season. Maddy Siegrist is usually the best player on the court, and that advantage could take the Wildcats on a postseason run. Villanova faces No. 13 Cleveland State on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. ET.

No. 6 seed Creighton

Last season, Creighton was the cinderella story of the NCAA Tournament. As a No. 10 seed, the Bluejays upset No. 7 Colorado, No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Iowa State en route to the Elite Eight. This season, Creighton went 22-8 (15-5 BIG EAST) and finished the season at No. 3 in the BIG EAST standings. Creighton looks to make another postseason run this year, starting with a Friday matchup against No. 11 seed Mississippi State (6:00 p.m. ET)

No. 9 seed Marquette

The Golden Eagles are making their 14th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. The “big three” of senior guard Jordan King, junior forward Liza Karlen and senior forward Chloe Marotta pace Marquette’s offense and combine for 42.2 points per game. Head coach Megan Duffy is an outstanding leader and motivator. Marquette’s first round match up against No. 8 seed USF kicks off Friday’s slate of NCAA Tournament games. Tip off is 11:30 a.m. ET.

Written by Tee Baker

Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.

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