St. John’s sophomore point guard Amari Carter disappeared for long stretches of Tuesday night’s WCAC showdown against No. 2 Good Counsel. She looked youthful on a court flooded with Division I prospects and was overshadowed at times by the brilliance of her own back-court mate, Notre Dame-bound Lindsay Allen.
But with about five minutes left in the game and her team trailing 67-60, the lanky Carter took over on four straight possessions, scoring nine consecutive points to key a pivotal 11-1 run and lift the third-ranked Cadets to a 77-73 victory over the Falcons.
“I knew my teammates would get me the ball . . . I kind of had a nice stretch,” said Carter, who finished with 19 points. “We were planning so much for this game. We could not lose this game. It was crucial that we won this game.”
Carter had relief in her voice after the win, knowing her team was desperate to avenge last season’s heartbreaking loss to Good Counsel (4-1) in the WCAC final. Tuesday night’s rendition had all the makings of a playoff game, even though it was December and the Falcons were playing without star guard Lindsey Spann, who has missed the early part of the season due to a lingering leg injury.
Carter and Allen (26 points) capitalized on the absence of Spann, but not until the second half, when the Cadets (3-0) rallied from a 35-32 halftime deficit. Allen hit four three-pointers in the third quarter, including a pull-up bomb at the end of the frame that gave St. John’s a 58-57 lead heading into the fourth.
“There are very few matchups at this point [in the season] that rival this, in terms of intensity,” said Good Counsel Coach Tom Splaine, who expects Spann back within the next few weeks. “They had a stretch run there, where, you know, [Allen] got a feel . . . they’re a great team.”
Good Counsel countered with strong performances from senior post Amanda Fiorvanti (17 points, 10 rebounds) and senior guard Jordan Light (27 points), who hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one from the left perimeter that tied the game at 73 with 1 minute 40 seconds remaining, just after Carter had gone on her tear.
But on the ensuing possession, Carter ran the point up to the Good Counsel defense, and the ball eventually swung to Allen. The quickness of the 5-foot-7 guard allowed her to penetrate into the lane and fade away for a 15-foot jumper that gave St. John’s back the lead, and Carter iced it with two free throws in the final seconds after the Cadets reclaimed possession.
“It was about finding our groove,” said Allen. “Amari Carter is a great player. When I was going, she was dishing the ball. When I was cold, she was just hitting shots.”