In what was likely the most thrilling game of the Advocare Invitational, St. John’s took their first loss of the season, a 90-82 setback to the Missouri Tigers.
St. John’s falls to 5-1, and Missouri improves to 5-1, going to the Advocare Invitational championship game.
Throughout the game, St. John’s lack of size was evident. And while the energy was strong on defense, some issues in defending outside the arc also cropped up. Missouri shot 14/27 from outside the arc (52%) and strafed the Johnnies late in the game for the win.
St. John's held serve against the Missouri Tigers early in the first half... until a 12-2 run, sparked by forward Kevin Puryear, put Missouri ahead by 14. The Tigers led by as much as 16, crashing the offensive glass and nailing three-pointers.
In that stretch, Marvin Clark picked up a pair of fouls and a technical for saying a call was bull excrement. And the Johnnies, who had a disadvantage inside against the tall front line, found themselves struggling even more against the Missouri size. The effort was decent, but the scoreboard began to look like a blowout.
But Shamorie Ponds poured in nine points in the final six minutes of the half. Marcus Lovett added five points in the last six minutes, and St. John's was down only six at the half. That stretch also saw some good minutes by Amar Alibegovic, who stopped the proverbial bleeding on the glass.
St. John's tied the game on a corner three from Justin Simon with sixteen minutes to go. The second half saw the team aggressive and smart with their defense in those first ten minutes of the half, forcing six turnovers in the first six minutes from Missouri. Tariq Owens found his game, using some crafty defense and adding some scores on a dunk and a jumper.
The two teams went back and forth; the game had six lead changes throughout the second half.
But the Tigers came back and found their groove, raining threes down the stretch in a high-pressure game.
Kassius Robertson and Jordan Barnett each hit threes to give Missouri the lead with under five minutes to play. After that, Missouri held the lead, nailing shots from the outside. St. John’s sometimes-hurried shots and trapping defense could not make up what was as much as a ten-point deficit.
St. John’s was paced by career-high 31 points form Shamorie Ponds. Bashir Ahmed had 17 points, 15 in the first half, and Marcus LoVett added 14. Justin Simon handed out eight assists, Shamorie Ponds added seven. Simon also had nine rebounds.
Jordan Barnett led Mizzou with 19 points. Kassius Robertson added 17, Jontay Porter scored 16; Kevin Puryear added 15 in a balanced effort.
St. John’s will face the loser of the Central Florida/ West Virginia game this evening. That game will be on Sunday at midday.