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St. John's vs Providence Big East Tournament final: Johnnies suffer early exit again, 74-57

The Johnnies half-court offense was not effective and their defense struggled to defend the three.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into Thursday's quarterfinal showdown at Madison Square Garden, not one player on St. John's roster had won a Big East Tournament game in their careers. The program's last victory in the event was back in 2011 against Rutgers and that was during Steve Lavin's first season.

The Johnnies weren't able to change that on Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinal; they dug themselves an 18-point hole in the opening half against Providence and were unable to overcome it, losing 74-57.

Rysheed Jordan led the Johnnies with 18 points (five turnovers) while D'Angelo Harrison scored seven points on 3-of-15 shooting. Sir`Dominic Pointer, seven points, and Chris Obekpa, four points, struggled in the paint against the size of Providence centers Ben Bentil and Carson Desrosiers. Phil Greene put up nine points and only shot 3-for-9.

The Johnnies defeated the Friars twice during the regular season, but Providence proved it's difficult to beat any team three times in a row.

In the opening half, St. John's stormed out to a 7-0 lead before the Friars went on a massive 16-0 run thanks to a solid defensive game plan as well as a very stagnant Red Storm offense.

The Friars kept them out of transition in the opening half and the Johnnies didn't respond well. They shot 27 percent from the field, 11 percent from downtown and were settling for the outside shots instead of attacking the basket. Even though it wasn't pretty, 10 free throws and Jordan's impact in the final three minutes kept Lavin's squad within only 13 points at the break.

In the second half, the Red Storm cut the lead down to eight but with only a six-man rotation, no successful half court sets and players banged up, it just wasn't enough. Every time St. John's seemed to receive a spark and we're ready to go on a long run, Providence responded, punching right back.

The Johnnies shot 31 percent in the game, 27 percent from downtown, turned the ball over 13 times and were dominated on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 49 to 36.

They also struggled to distribute the ball, only putting up seven assists on 18 made field goals.

Co-Big East Player of the Year Kris Dunn, led the Friars with 17 points and 11 assists while the Big East's scoring leader, LaDontae Henton, scored 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting.

Now the Johnnies will have to wait for Selection Sunday, where they are expected to make their first NCAA Tournament since 2011.

Losing two straight going into the Big Dance is not what the Johnnies wanted; now they may have to shock a superior opponent as a double-digit seed.