It didn't result in a victory, but day two on the island was much improved from a disastrous outing against Vanderbilt on day one.
St. John's failed to defeat Indiana, losing 83 to 73, in the losers bracket of the Maui Invitational but they played with more fire, benefited from 16 Hoosier turnovers and had more composure. Ron Mvouika led the team with 17 points and five boards along with Federico Mussini, 17 points, and Felix Balamou, 14 points.
Yankuba Sima continued to show potential (when he wasn't in foul trouble) as he scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked one shot playing against the physical, talented Thomas Bryant (19 points on 7-of-9 shooting).
The Red Storm were once again without two critical players, Malik Ellison (foot) and Darien Williams (shoulder), who have both missed the first two games in Hawaii.
Indiana was able to open up a 17-point lead late in the first half thanks to hot shooting from three and a monster effort from Bryant, who schooled Sima and Jones in post with his combination of power and touch. St. John's went on a mini run and Durand Johnson (seven points) knocked home a three with 15 seconds remaining before the break to cut the lead to 11.
Even though they let the Hoosiers shoot 64 percent overall and 46 percent from downtown in the first stanza, Mullin's team got to the free throw strike 10 times, shot 35 percent and held up on the boards (17 to 17).
Using that momentum, the Johnnies cut the Indiana lead down to four with 16:05 remaining as they started to hold Bryant in check. But Indiana responded to score a rash of easy buckets to jump back out to a comfortable lead that they would not relinquish for the remainder of the afternoon.
St. John's had only seven assists and they didn't move the ball very well, but once again their turnover total was relatively low (11) and they attacked the teeth of a poor Hoosiers defense.
Tom Crean's team was carried by Bryant's first half outing, but they also received solid contributions from Yogi Ferrell, 22 points and seven assists, and their other top scorers. Surprisingly, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams came off the bench to begin the game after a rough defensive effort against the Demon Deacons. But that didn't hold them back as they entered the match-up early in the first half and did not fail to make an impact in the box score, combining for 19 points.
St. John's will play their final game of the Maui Invitational Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in the 7th place game against either UNLV or the host, Chaminade.