Senior Day at Madison Square Garden for St. John’s did not go the way that Chris Mullin and his squad had hoped it would as the Providence friars would overpower the Red Storm in the regular season finale 86-75.
St. John’s returned to Madison Square Garden where they had won its last three contests. During the win streak at “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” the Johnnies averaged 83.3 points led by Shamorie Ponds 19.7 points per game. That offensive prowess was nowhere to be found today in their regular season finale.
Ponds was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Monday for a league-leading fifth time this season. Ponds averaged 19.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in two games last week. Teammate Bashir Ahmed was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll.
The Johnnies’ struggles continued for their second straight game as they were unable to gain any offensive success against the Friars.
Providence came into today’s game riding a five-game win streak with four of those victories coming at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Friars outlasted DePaul, 73-64, on Tuesday as four players scored double-figures, including a game-high 14 points apiece from Kyron Cartwright and Emmitt Holt. The Friars have gone 3-5 in BIG EAST road games this season with their most recent conference road victory coming on Feb. 22 at then-No. 23 Creighton, 68-66.
The Johnnies starting lineup remained unchanged with Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett in the backcourt, alongside Bashir Ahmed, Malik Ellison, and Kassoum Yakwe. The Friars starting lineup included guards Alpha Diallo, Jalen Lindsey, Kyron Cartwright, and forwards Rodney Bullock and Emmitt Holt.
The Friars got off to a quick start to get things started, scoring 10 quick points off of 4 of 6 shooting in the first four minutes of the 1st Half. Jalen Lindsey would account for 5 of the Friar’s first 10 points of the game. The Johnnies got off to a slow start, very similar to the start in their last game in Omaha in their 82-68 loss to Creighton. St. John’s would start the game only making 1 out of the first 8 shots on the floor over the first 8 minutes of the game.
The Friars would have a 20-12 lead at the 9:14 mark in the 1st Half, forcing Chris Mullin to take a 30-second timeout. St. John’s got into foul trouble early in the 1st Half, forcing Chris Mullin to go deep into his bench. Tariq Owens, Darien Williams, and Amar Alibegovic all saw minutes in the 1st Half, due to Malik Ellison earning three personal fouls and Kassoum Yakwe with two fouls of his own.
The Friars would increase their lead to 10 points at 25-15 at the 6:46 mark in the 1st Half, scoring four out of their last five shots. St. John’s would continue to struggle from the floor, only shooting 2 for 15, (13%). However, the Johnnies were able to stay in the game with their foul shooting, making 11 of their first 14 attempts.
Turnovers and foul trouble plagued both teams throughout the first 20 minutes of the game. St. John’s committed 8 turnovers, compared to the Friars at 7 turnovers. Both teams were in the double bonus in the first half, St. John’s committing 13 personal fouls and Providence with 14 fouls.
Sloppy offense by St. John’s allowed Providence to take a 12 point lead at halftime, 37-25. Jalen Lindsey led the Friars with 10 points in 18 minutes. Kalif Young excelled for the Friars off the bench, grabbing 10 rebounds and added 2 points. St. John’s would finish 4 for 21 from the field, and only 1-10 from 3-point range.
The Johnnies and the Friars would trade baskets to begin the 2nd Half, with Providence and St. John’s going on a 13-10 run in the first 7 minutes of the 2nd Half. However at the 12:39 mark, the Friars would increase their lead to 15 points at 50-35, forcing Chris Mullin to take another timeout.
Nothing seemed to go right for St. John’s this game. Tariq Owens and Darien Williams both had four personal fouls early in the 2nd half. The Johnnies lack of interior defense and inability to go on a scoring run kept them from making it a competitive game. Providence would have their largest lead would be at the 8:29 mark in the 2nd Half, leading 60-42, but St. John’s would quickly get it back to 62-49 with 6:50 left to play.
The Johnnies, as they always do, never quit in this game. Chris Mullin implemented a full-court press to force Providence turnovers. The Johnnies were able to make it 62-51 Providence, but at the 5:01 mark in the 2nd Half, Isaiah Jackson would make a crucial 3-pointer to make it 65-51, ending any momentum the Johnnies were trying to build.
St. John’s would do everything they could to claw their way back into this game in the last minutes of the 2nd Half. They would make it a seven-point game at 78-71 with 48 seconds left in the game but Providence’s efficiency on offense was too much for St. John’s to handle as they would go on to defeat the Johnnies 86-75. Four Providence players would finish with double digits in scoring, lead by Isaiah Jackson’s 18 points. Jalen Lindsey and Alpha Diallo would both have 17 points for the Friars as well. For the Red Storm, Shamorie Ponds would score a game-high 29 points. Ponds’ 29 point performance surpassed him over D’Angelo Harrison for the program’s freshman scoring record with 545 points.
The Johnnies would finish 23-62 (37%), from the field and 4-23 (17%) from behind the arc. The Johnnies lost the rebound battle 44-34 and turned the ball over 12 times. They allowed the Friars to score staggering 42 points in the paint and 26 bench points. The Johnnies will need a much better 40-minute performance if they want to win their next game on Wednesday night.
The Red Storm will enter the 2017 Big East Tournament next week at MSG as the No. 8 seed. St. John’s opening round matchup with No. 9 Georgetown is set for Wednesday at 7 p.m. on FS1. The Red Storm’s last victory at The Garden came against the Hoyas, 86-80, on Feb. 25 and they will need a similar performance against Georgetown on Wednesday night if they want to continue their 2016-17 season.