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St. John’s Final: Creighton bullies St. John’s 85-72

The Johnnies had no answer down low.

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Foster went up and threw down a vicious dunk off an alley-oop. That is how this contest started, and really how much of this game felt for St. John’s

Creighton controlled St. John’s from the get-go, dropping the Johnnies by a 85-72 score. They quieted a rather lively Carnesecca crowd on multiple occasions.

The Bluejays are known as a shooting team, but for much of the game they dominated the Johnnies down low. Creighton scored 28 of their 44 first half points in the paint.

Greg McDermott’s bunch got to the hoop in array of ways in the first half. One way was by turning St. John’s turnovers into easy transition buckets. The Red Storm didn’t look comfortable getting back on defense. Even if the Bluejays weren’t in transition, they were able to get the ball down low by simply spreading the floor and passing to open teammates.

Defensively, Creighton agitated St. John’s by making them take a difficult shot nearly every possession. Most importantly, Creighton played defense without fouling, not allowing St. John’s to take a single first half free-throw.

Creighton came out in the second half attacking St. John’s in the same way. They bullied St. John’s, just going right at the hoop forcefully. Creighton greatly outscored St. John’s from the paint. Bluejays big man Justin Patton was the main force in close. He finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds, while shooting 79%.

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

About half way through the second half, the Johnnies would put together a nice 23-9 run, cutting the Creighton lead to just 10. This run kept St. John’s and the crowd in the game, but ultimately the Bluejays would setback any Red Storm threats with easy, momentum killing baskets. Although at times it felt St. John’s was on the cusp of a comeback victory, Creighton never allowed the Johnnies to truly get in striking distance.

For St. John’s, they struggled shooting nearly the entire night. They would finish the contest shooting 39% from the field and 32% from three. Creighton on the other hand shot 52% from the field.

One thing the Johnnies did well was defend the three-point line. Creighton only hit 5 three-point shots, while shooting 28% from beyond the arc.

Although the team result was uninspiring, Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett played well. They continue to be St. John’s biggest weapons. They combined for 40 points and 6 rebounds.

Bashir Ahmed was very quiet in tonight’s game, coming fresh off solid performances against Butler and DePaul. He tallied 6 points and 7 rebounds, while shooting 23% from the field.

Creighton fans will remember from this one a nice performance from guard Maurice Watson Jr. His speed made it nearly impossible for St. John’s defenders to keep Watson in front of them. Watson was also there to hit back-breaking shots, fending off any late Red Storm runs. He concluded this contest with 19 points and 5 assists, while shooting 70% from the field.

Watson’s teammate Khyri Thomas also performed well. He did a great job complementing Watson Jr. and Marcus Foster in the backcourt. Thomas would conclude with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists.

The Red Storm will have a chance to get back on track this Saturday. They will pack their bags and head to Ohio for a bout with #16 Xavier.