Feb. 16, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shenneika Smith scored 23 points and Da'Shena Stevens added 21 to help No. 22 St. John's upset No. 4 Notre Dame 76-71 on Tuesday night for the biggest win in the program's history.

Sky Lindsay scored 13 points for the Red Storm (21-5, 9-4 Big East), who had never beaten a top five opponent. They are off to the best start in coach Kim Barnes Arico's eight-year tenure.

They were coming off a 66-52 loss at top-ranked UConn--the closest any team has come in the conference to the Huskies this season. The close loss to UConn helped St. John's move up to No. 22 in the poll Monday--its highest ranking since 1983-84.

Skylar Diggins scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half and Brittany Mallory added 17 to lead the Fighting Irish (23-2, 10-2), who had won eight straight since losing to Connecticut on Jan. 16--its only other loss of the season.

Leading 61-57 with 8:30 left, St. John's held Notre Dame without a point for over 6 minutes to extend its lead to 69-57 with 3:15 left.

Ashley Barlow finally ended the Irish's drought, hitting a 3-pointer with 2:25 left. The Irish cut the deficit to 69-65 on Diggins' three-point play with 52.6 seconds left after Lindsay had missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

Stevens hit the first of two free throws and then rebounded her own miss and was fouled. The sophomore forward connected on both to make it 72-65.

Notre Dame was missing starting guard Lindsay Schrader, who sprained her left ankle in Sunday's win over DePaul. Schrader had played in 119 straight games for the Irish, including starting the last 73. She is day-to-day and was on the bench in a protective boot. Notre Dame plays at Georgetown on Saturday.

St. John's led by 11 points early in the second half before Diggins took over. She scored seven of Notre Dame's 10 points as the Irish cut their deficit to one. The freshman guard started the spurt with a three-point play then converted four free throws around Mallory's three-point play.

Smith ended the run with five straight points to extend the lead back to 56-50 midway through the second half.

Notre Dame cut its deficit to 61-57 on Devereaux Peter's putback with 8:30 left.

St. John's took an 18-6 lead in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game as Lindsay had seven points. Nadirah McKenith's nifty drive down the middle of the lane for a layup capped the early spurt. St. John's made eight of its first 12 shots, but then went cold from the field missing nine straight as Notre Dame climbed within 21-20 on Erica Williamson's layup.

Kelly McManmon finally ended the 7-minute drought hitting a 3-pointer to start a 16-5 spurt that restored the 12-point lead. Smith's layup with 2:08 left made it 37-25. Notre Dame closed to five and trailed by 39-32 at halftime.

Notre Dame leads the all-time series 18-3, but St. John's has won the last three meetings at home, including a win over then-No. 9 Notre Dame in 2008.

St. John's assistant coach Megan Duffy was a star guard for Notre Dame from 2003-06. She is one of three Irish players ever to have 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals in her career.