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St. John’s final: Johnnies fall to VCU 75-69

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Young hearts make mistakes

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-VCU vs St. John's Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s dropped their second game in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, 75-69, to VCU. The Red Storm will face off against the loser of Old Dominion and LSU, tonight’s nightcap.

Shamorie Ponds led St. John’s with 18 points; Bashir Ahmed added 13, Yankuba SIma had a strong performance with 12 and Marcus LoVett added 10 (more on him to come).

VCU was paced by some explosive scoring from junior Jonathan Williams (22 points) with 15 points each from Mo Alie-Cox and Jequan Lewis.

In the glass-half-full view of this recap, we can talk about St. John’s leading by as much as 13 in the first half. Or we can talk about the Johnnies coming back top tie the game with just under seven minutes to play. Or perhaps the better performances from Kassoum Yakwe (five points, five rebounds and six blocks) and Yankuba Sima (12 points, seven rebounds). Or a burst of scoring from Federico Mussini (six of his seven points in the second half). Or the ball movement that the Johnnies tried to create.

But in the glass-half-empty view, St. John’s lost a 13-point lead by the end of the first half. Or how VCU had St. John’s on their back foot for much of the second half. Or the youthful play that directly led to the margin, particularly from Marcus LoVett.

Now, for a team that has depended on the scoring and passing punch of LoVett, it’s unfair to lean on his play as a reason for the team’s loss; there was much more than that.

But along with some hot passes - making the slashing and ball movement moot when a teammate couldn’t catch the pass - LoVett had a pair of plays that lost what seemed to be easy points:

  • At the end of the first half, LoVett was dribbling at the top of the key, waiting to attack as the half came to the close. But he got his pocket picked by Jonathan Williams, who scored on a layup with four seconds left. Two points lost.
  • With the game tied at 45, LoVett deftly stole the ball and eased up the court... but tried a dunk, that he missed. VCU returned on the other end and hit a three-pointer, though they had been struggling to hit from outside the arc. Five points lost.

Those plays were indicative of a St. John’s teams that just lacked some maturity, some experience acumen - attacking the rim against a well-set VCU defense, an inability to convert going to the basket, and a team that made the little mistakes that are the margin between defeat and victory.

Tomorrow will be one more chance for a win for the 2-3 St. John’s squad in the Bahamas. They’re not bad, but they are young - and it shows.