All season long St. John's has been competitive due to their heart and tremendous determination. But on Sunday, the Johnnies didn't play with any toughness, fire or energy in an embarrassing 100 to 59 loss to the Creighton Blue Jays at the CenturyLink Center.
Christian Jones play was the lone positive as he scored 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbed four rebounds. He had no supporting cast though as Kassoum Yakwe finished with zero points and two boards, Yankuba Sima added 13 points (most of the buckets were in garbage time) and battled foul trouble, and Malik Ellison put up five points. Federico Mussini played limited minutes once again and had five points on 1-of-6 shooting.
The graduate transfers, Durand Johnson and Ron Mvouika, scored 14 combined points on 6-of-21 shooting while Felix Balamou had two points.
This was the team's final road game of the season and the Johnnies didn't show up at the defensive end of the floor. Creighton shot 63 percent overall, 42 percent from beyond the arc and they grabbed 12 offensive rebounds. The Johnnies played zero transition defense, gave up free lanes to the basket, weren't challenging the outside shooters and had no presence in the paint (something that was a clear strength against Seton Hall last week). Creighton was able to get whatever they wanted and the game was never in doubt.
Everything went wrong for the Johnnies in the first half as Sima went to the bench two minutes into the game due to foul trouble and the Red Storm opted to play zero defense. Creighton went on a 29 to 4 run from the 10:47 mark to the final minute and a half, to open up a shocking 29-point lead that put the Johnnies into a major hole at the break.
The Red Storm let the Blue Jays shoot 67 percent from the field, knock down 8-of-12 threes and grab 21 rebounds to their eight in the first half. Chris Mullin's unit had less turnovers than Creighton but they didn't make a three, let Maurice Watson Jr. dictate tempo and had no answer for Geoffrey Groselle on the interior, who scored eight of the Jays' first 10 points.
On top of the poor defense and lack of ball movement on offense, the Johnnies didn't get to the free throw stripe and Jones (who knocked down some excellent mid-range jumpers) and Ellison (who was attacking the lane and showing off solid penetration at times) seemed like the only two players who wanted to be on the floor. Add that all up and the Red Storm trailed 53-24 at the break with Jones scoring exactly half of the team's points and Yakwe getting shut out in both the rebounding department and in the scoring column.
It was much of the same in the second frame, as Creighton continued to pour it on offensively and frustration started to emerge from the road team. Mullin, who already had a technical foul, was thrown out of the game in the middle of the second frame and had to be led away from the refs by Mitch Richmond, Greg St. Jean, Barry 'Slice' Rohrssen and Mvouika.
Sima had an effective second half, making moves on the block, but the Red Storm shot just 37 percent overall, 18 percent from down town and went to the line 19 times compared to 30 times for Creighton.
The Blue Jays were led by Groselle, who finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, Watson (10 points and six assists) and James Milliken (19 points on four threes). Creighton's bench also added 36 points, doing most of their damage in the final 20 minutes.
The Johnnies (8-22, 1-16) will finish up the regular season on Saturday at Madison Square Garden against the reeling Providence Friars, who have lost five of seven. Although the Friars beat the Red Storm 83-65 in the first meeting at The Dunk, the Johnnies made a strong second half run to put a little pressure on the home team.