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 St. John’s Women’s Basketball Drops Nail-Biter at Villanova, 70-68

 After erasing a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to retake the lead with just over a minute to play, the St. John’s women’s basketball team fell to Villanova, 70-68, at Finneran Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.  

For the 11th time this season, Leilani Correa paced the Red Storm (5-8) in the scoring column with 20 points. Correa also grabbed 10 rebounds to record her first double-double of the season and the seventh of her career. The Manchester, N.J., native, who has now tallied 20 or more points six times in 11 opportunities this season, also added four assists and two steals in her return from a one-game absence.  

In her first appearance since the second game of the season on Nov. 14, Rayven Peeples logged her first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Peeples shot at a 50-percent clip from the floor and grabbed six of her boards on the offensive glass. Sunday marked the first time this season that two Johnnies have registered double-doubles in the same game.  

 Unique Drake made the most of her sixth start of the season. The junior out of Columbia, S.C., extended her double-digit scoring streak to five games with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Drake also chipped in three rebounds and a career-high four steals.    

 Maddy Siegrest, who made the game-winning play for Villanova (8-5), led all scorers with 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds.  

 The first quarter was tightly contested between the Red Storm and Wildcats with no team pulling ahed by more than six points. Drake paced the Johnnies in the opening frame with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. Villanova clung to a one-point lead, 17-16, after one period.  

 In the second quarter, Drake picked up right where she left off, draining all three of her field goal attempts, including a spinning layup that gave the Red Storm the lead, 36-34, with less than a minute to play. The junior guard tallied 15 first-half points to lead all scorers.  Peeples began to establish herself in the paint, pouring in four points to finish the half with eight points while converting four of her five shot attempts. After 20 minutes, St. John’s held a one-point lead, 37-36, heading into the locker room.  

 Villanova flipped the script coming out of the locker room. The Wildcats ripped off a 10-0 run late in the third quarter to wrestle back the lead, 52-47, with less than two minutes on the clock. A Brooke Mullin 3-pointer with 23 seconds to go extended the Wildcat lead to six, 55-49, after a tense a half-hour of play.  

 Villanova opened the fourth quarter with a quick 4-0 spurt to extend its lead to nine, 61-52 with less than eight minutes to play. St. John’s refused to go away and roared back with 8-0 run of its own to tighten the score at 61-60 heading into the final media timeout. Villanova scored four quick points to move back ahead by five, but the Red Storm rallied, using three Correa buckets and a pair of Drake free throws to take a late lead, 68-67, with 1:22 remaining. The one-point advantage, however, would not hold up, as Siegrist grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a clutch three-point play with four seconds remaining to give Villanova the win, 70-68.  

 St. John’s will be back in action on Friday, Jan. 7 when it returns to Carnesecca Arena to take on Xavier. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on the BIG EAST Digital Network.  

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