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St. John’s at Creighton final: Johnnies fall 82-68

It was close at times, but not a great performance.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of things went wrong enough that St. John’s couldn’t take advantage of their inspired spurts, and the Red Storm fell at Creighton by the score of 82-68.

St. John’s falls to 13-17 and 7-10 in the Big East. Creighton improves to 23-7, 10-7 in Big East play.

Despite a Creighton team that missed easy shots in transition, St. John’s dug themselves an early hole - and struggled with the right offensive mindset against the Creighton defense.

The game started with an 11-0 Creighton run. The Bluejays slowed the Red Storm, and the Johnnies helped by looking to score with individual plays, while Creighton took advantage on the other end - and then forced three straight turnovers from a pressing Red Storm squad.

But Amar Alibegovic came in the game and combined with Darien Williams to slowly dig the Red Storm out of their hole. St. John’s got within four behind some strong play from those two and Federico Mussini. But a 10-0 Creighton run near the end of the first half gave the Jays a cushion to work with.

The second half saw some runs - including a personal 8-0 run from Malik Ellison - but the team’s overall play was not good enough to take out Creighton on the road.

The Red Storm’s big three of Bashir Ahmed, Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds struggled mightily from the field. Ahmed shot 3/11 for six points with seven rebounds and four turnovers. LoVett shot 4/11 to ad eight points, but struggled all game, despite tying for the team lead with three assists. Shamorie Ponds had some nice moments with his 16 points on 6/16 shooting and a career-high six steals.

The Red Storm forced 17 turnovers - 11 from the backcourt of Khyri Thomas (four) and Marcus Foster (seven) and held the Bluejays to under one pint per possession. The Johnnies kept the Bluejays at 47% shooting inside the arc and 32% from beyond the arc (6/19).

But St. John’s offense was rough all game long, looking for out-of-rhythm threes, shots off the dribble instead of from good ball movement. The team also struggled at the line (8/17 on free throws), where the team has been very good for much of the year. St. John’s shot 6/25 from beyond the arc, further inhibiting the chance for a comeback.

Creighton size and efficiency were much too much, and the Bluejays cruised on Creighton’s senior night. The Jays had 21 fast break points and seven dunk attempts (Justin Patton badly missed one).

Marcus Foster led Creighton with 18 points and Khyri Thoms added 14 with 12 rebounds from the guard position. Senior Isaiah Zierden, who battled back from injuries through his career, was sent off with a 12 point performance.

St. John’s finishes the season at home on Saturday against Providence at midday; Creighton takes on Marquette in Milwaukee on Saturday as well, at 2:30 PM.