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Game #7, St. John's 69, Ohio 71

A heartbreaking loss was the result of St. John’s last game against Ohio University in the respective teams’ opening round match in the Rainbow Classic. In front of a crowd of what seemed to be 15-20 people, St. John’s received solid performances from DJ Kennedy, Eugene Lawrence, and even Sean Evans to come back from 7 points down in the final minutes, fouling to put Ohio on the line and shooting threes.

But...

After two free throws put Ohio up 69-66, Lawrence nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing to tie the game at 69 with 1.6 seconds remaining.

Walther then inbounded the ball the length of the court to Williams for the game-winning layup.

There was no video, so I couldn’t tell if it was a great pass leading to a layup at the other end, or just a blown assignment, but the results are the same. A third loss in a row, a second loss on the road for a team that has 4 road wins in Coach Roberts’ 4-year tenure, and another game where the same problems happened:

- St. John’s’ lead slipped away in the second half.
- The other team shot 20+ free throws (this time, 34), more than doubling the Red Storm’s attempts (16). Ohio scored 25 points from the charity stripe and St. John’s netted 10.
- The big men fouled more than they scored: Tomas Jasiulionis: 0 pts, 3 fouls, 0 rebounds, 0 blocks, 1 assist, 11 minutes; Dele Coker: 2 pts, 2 fouls (an improvement), 5 rebounds, 0 blocks, 1 assist and 1 steal, give credit where due, 14 minutes; Sean Evans (who should be playing PF): 5 pts, 3 fouls, 2 rebounds, 0 blocks, 2 assists, 18 minutes in the best performance, by far, of the three.

That’s a total of 7 points, 8 fouls, 7 rebounds, 0 blocks, 4 assists and a steal in 43 minutes of playing time. Justin Burrell’s game was also underwhelming: 7 points, 4 fouls (at least one to intentionally put the Bobcats on the free throw line), 7 rebounds, 0 assists, steals or blocks in 33 minutes; the man who should be the offensive centerpiece only took 5 shots (hitting on 3). Adding his production we have 14 points, 12 fouls, 14 rebounds, 0 blocks, 4 assists, in 76 minutes of playing time.

On the plus side, such as it is,

- the game featured a spirited comeback in the final minutes, where Larry Wright forced the issue and took a three point shot that he hit.
- Sean Evans really didn’t hurt the team as much as he did in previous games.
- DJ Kennedy was special, and I take back anything I might have said about his game (which I thought was a little overrated)—he just makes plays. He scored 17 points, had 2 assists, 3 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers. Plus he hit 2-4 from beyond the arc; the kid might have a good sense when to shoot the ball.
- And speaking of comebacks, Rob Thomas came back to the court for 4 minutes, scoring 2 points, fouling once; and Anthony Mason Jr. played 17 minutes, stopped shooting three-pointers after his first attempt, went 2-4 from the field and had 2 rebounds (along with 3 turnovers and 3 fouls).

The Fire Norm contingent grows. This team needs a victory.