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St. John’s Final: Red Storm prevail past Friars 91-86

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St. John’s looked like an experienced bunch as they pushed by Providence.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Providence Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s season has been all about growing as a team. The Johnnies are mainly comprised of inexperienced and raw talent. Conference road victories are vital along the rebuild process, and playing at Providence provided a feasible opportunity for such a win.

The Red Storm started quick and kept control over Providence for much of the first half. St. John’s took a 46-37 lead into the intermission. They got out to their lead by turning Providence over, defending the paint, rebounding, and knocking down shots.

Providence came out of the break with a vengeance, using an early 14-2 run to take an 59-53 lead. In those early minutes of the second half Providence reduced St. John’s to them old selves. The Friars bullied the Red Storm down low, drawing fouls, and creating turnovers.

St. John’s surprisingly responded in a very poised and mature manner. When all the momentum had shifted over to Providence, the Johnnies focused on attacking the basket and drawing fouls. This resulted in numerous layups, dunks, and free-throws. The Johnnies also did a great job rebounding, grabbing 27 shots off the glass. This scrappy play silenced the Friar faithful, and brought St. John’s right back into the contest.

The game was back and forth for much of the last 10 minutes. Unlike the first half, St. John’s did a great job passing the ball around, and getting easy shots inside.

With just under 5 minutes remaining, the Friars hit a big bucket to regain a slim 78-77 lead. At that point the crowd on hand rose to urge on their Friar defenders. Marcus LoVett responded accordingly with a silencing bucket. That tranquil vibe at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center did not last long, as a Jalen Lindsey three-point field goal ignited the Providence fanbase, and gave the Friars an 83-81 lead. St. John’s again responded like an experienced team, as a Bashir Ahmed runner tied the contest.

Heading into the last minute of the game, St. John’s held a slender 87-86 lead. Coming out of a timeout, Providence attempted to attack the hoop, but were confronted by Darien Williams and Tariq Owens. The ensuing Red Storm possession resulted in a shot clock violation off LoVett’s blocked shot. With 14 seconds remaining, the Friars once again attempted to attack the basket, but Kyron Cartwright’s isolation drive was denied by Darien Williams. Cartwright finished with 16 points and 5 assists for the Friars.

Shamorie Ponds iced the contest on the free-throw line, as the Johnnies ran out of Providence with a Big East road victory. Ponds finished with 22 points, while shooting 4-5 from deep and 8-8 from the line.

Marcus LoVett arguably played the best game of his St. John’s career. He was constantly there to hit baskets when the team needed them most. LoVett tallied 26 points, while shooting 10-15 from the field.

Bashir Ahmed and Malik Ellison were also huge contributors, tallying a combined 30 points and 9 rebounds.

Up next for St. John’s is a home matchup with Xavier. Many highly regarded recruits should be at Madison Square Garden for that contest.