After nearly shocking Xavier at the Cintas Center, St. John's was smacked at Carnesecca Arena Saturday, losing 89 to 56 to a Butler Bulldogs team that needed to avoid a "bad loss" in the worst way.
"I don't know if it's mental fatigue or whatever," Ron Mvouika said following the loss. "We just collapsed (after the first eight minutes) and we couldn't stop the bleeding.
"We give Butler credit, it's a great team, but we shot ourselves in the foot. Mentality we broke down. We beat ourselves down."
The Red Storm didn't receive much offensive production but Kassoum Yakwe led the team in scoring with 11 points on 2-of-5 shooting while Durand Johnson put up five points on 2-of-11 shooting. Yankuba Sima, who returned after a seven game absence due to a hand injury, was rusty, scoring three points on 0-of-1 shooting, and had a difficult time against Andrew Chrabascz (five points) and Tyler Wideman (11 points and five boards) inside. Federico Mussini came off the bench for the second straight game and struggled, scoring just seven points.
Ron Mvouika added seven points and Malik Ellison put up eight after scoring five of the team's first seven points.
With a near sold out crowd rocking and Ellison playing with confidence, St. John's got out to an early 12-7 lead at the first media timeout. The momentum was short lived though, as the Bulldogs went on a 25-2 run over the course of seven minutes and the home team failed to record a field goal for nearly 11 minutes. The Johnnies had 11 turnovers, were stifled by Butler's defense and couldn't stop the road team's transition attack (eight fast break points) in the first stanza.
St. John's had good ball movement in the first eight minutes, but failed to make shots (just seven buckets) for the rest of the first frame and were controlled in the paint. They shot just 33 percent from all areas of the floor and 38 percent from downtown with Mussini and Sima scoring only a combined five points. The Red Storm's defense wasn't any better as they let Butler pick their spots on the floor on their way to 48 points and a 22-point lead at the half.
And there was no stopping the Butler offensive punch in the second half. They were firing on all cylinders with the Johnnies playing non-existent defense and failing to stop the ball or contest their opponents' open threes. Chris Holtmann's team had a 60-29 lead at the under 16 media timeout and it didn't get any closer than that.
Kelan Martin (18 points 6-of-12 shooting), Roosevelt Jones (10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists) and Wideman had a field day while Jordan Gathers added 16. Kellen Dunham had a quiet game as he put up nine points on 3-of-9 shooting but his normal production wasn't needed.
Butler shot 48 percent from the field, 48 percent from three and 68 percent from the free throw strike while the Johnnies shot just 31 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. The Red Storm had 21 turnovers to Butler's 14 and they were out-rebounded, 44 to 33.
"We made 15 field goals and they made 31," Chris Mullin said. "Even if you're a defensive guy, you have to put the ball in the basket. That's at any level. First you have to get shots and when you turn the ball over 21 times, that's a problem.
"There's stuff you can take from these games even though it's excruciating to go through. We'll take notes and remember some of these nights and pay them back when we can."
The Red Storm (7-17, 0-11), who have lost 14 in a row, will have a quick turnaround as they travel to Washington, DC on Monday to face another Big East bubble team, the Georgetown Hoyas.